Monday, January 22, 2007

The Luck of the Race

Only four more days until I leave for Miami to run marathon number three. I can't believe I will have run three marathons in less than a year, and last year at this time, the furthest distance I had run was a half marathon.

As many runners can attest, the week preceding a marathon is a time of both nervousness and excitement. I am paranoid that I will slip and fall on the ice. Every little ache and pain that I experience, I automatically worry if it will still be bugging me during the race. I worry if I am over-doing the training during this week. Or if I am not running enough.

Many people have wished me "good luck" on this race and in others in the past. My initial thought is that running isn't a matter of luck. It's a matter of physical fitness and mental power. While running is not a matter of luck, racing actually is—to some extent. There are many aspects of a race that have to do with luck, or that are beyond the runner's control.

Here are my thoughts on what can and cannot be controlled in a race (particularly a marathon) and what the "unknown" factors are.

Within the runner's control:
  • Adherence to a training program, just "training" in general
  • How the runner paces him/herself during the race
  • What the runner eats and drinks before, during and after the race
  • The clothing/layers/running gear the runner wears
  • The runner's mindset and attitude during the race
Outside the runner's control:
  • The weather - An injury, soreness or illness(unless the runner brought it on him/herself by over-training)
  • Potential accidents during the race
  • The availability of Porta-potties at the start of the race and on the course
  • The water and fuel stations—this can be known, but not controlled
  • Travel delays or lost luggage if flying
  • The number of people running the race, potentially causing bottlenecks
  • Technology failures, such as the chip not working, the iPod malfunctioning or the watch stopping 
Provided that the weather isn't too rainy or hot, I don't get sick or injured, I can access a port-potty when I need to, I arrive to the race on time with my gear, and that my iPod or watch doesn't fail me, I anticipate a time of 4:20. However, I would be content with anything under a 4:22, and "beating my bib" which is 4220. Heck, just finishing the damn thing is an achievement, so I guess I would be happy with just crossing the finish line in one piece. I have a nagging soreness in my right inner thigh, but I wonder how much of that is "all in my head."

I have decided to take a vacation from my lap top, so the post-race blog will have to wait until Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday will be spent relaxing on South Beach. I will, however, use the lobby computer to post a brief bulletin upon finishing. So. . . wish me "luck" on Sunday!

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