Back in 2010, I was registered for this same race, but since the weather was in the low to mid 70's with nearly 100% humidity, I decided to run it as a training run, and stop at the halfway point. I ended up feeling better than expected, so I actually ran 18.5 miles that day, and then stopped because it was just a training run.
As for my science project, here is a side-by-side comparison of these activities.
|Weather||70-75 degrees, 100% humidity.||60-65 degrees, 85% humidity|
|Recent Crystal Run 5K Time||22:21||22:00|
|Goal||Training Run||Finish Strong|
In other words, I am in much better shape now than I was two years ago, and today's weather was cooler. Logically, one would expect my paces for today to be faster. Especially since today was technically a race and I wasn't trying to save my legs for anything else. Were they faster? Absolutely not.
|Mile||2010 Pace||2010 Heart Rate||2012 Pace||2012 Heart Rate|
When I stopped the run in 2010, the folks at the water station were asking me "Why are you stopping? You're in the lead! You look so strong!" I smiled and said back, "I feel great, but you know, I'm not on pace to BQ, and that's what I'm after. I'm registered for another marathon in two weeks, and I'll try to BQ there." Today, the people at that same water stop said "Are you okay? Can I get you some ice?" And it was hard for me to reply initially.
What I'm getting at here is that this is a very physical manifestation of something 100% mental. Mention the word "marathon" and something happens in my brain and subsequently my body that makes me incapable of even running at my easy training pace. It's not lack of sleep. It's not dehydration. It's not the weather. It's not my fitness level. It's not over-training. It's not nutrition. It's not going out too fast. It's in my head and whatever "it" is, I can't get it out.
It's not as easy as just trying to relax. The more I try that the worse it seems to be. In fact, today, I was in high spirits, completely just in it to have a good race. Time wasn't even an element here. I wasn't focused on time, I wasn't obsessively looking at my Garmin. I just listened to my music and treated it like a long run. But it didn't work.
I'm plenty nervous for races at other distances, and yet I can run those with no problem.
It's happened at every marathon attempt in the past 4 years and it's getting worse and worse. Seriously, my fastest mile was an 8:52?!? I do many easy training runs where my slowest mile isn't even that slow.
|2012, Photo by Cheryl Young|
I think my next approach will be to come at this whole running thing with a completely different mindset. I need to make it about finding my power through running. It's not about the PR or the time on the clock. I am happiest when I am running strong and feeling the power within me. I kept trying to find that today and it wasn't there. I wanted to get into a groove with the running and it never came. In most of the photos, my form was completely off (I chose one of the few good ones for this blog). I just looked like I was struggling so much.
I won't stop running them. I'm not a quitter and I won't give up. I will figure it out. Maybe not in time for Richmond this fall. Maybe not in time for a Spring marathon. But eventually, one day, it will happen for me.