It used to be that the main thing I wanted out of racing was PRs. And then I realized I was selling myself short and missing out on a whole lot of wonderful things- simply because I wasn't looking for them and seeing that they were there for me. Here is a list of possible "menu items" for next Saturday, in no particular order:
- Enjoyment of running a low-key race
- Development and experience as a runner
- Finishing the race
- Having a strong finish
- Pride in knowing that I ran my best race possible for that day
- Feeling loved and supported by Greg who will be at several places on the course
- Learning what works and what doesn't work, so I can refine my process
- "Testing" where my physical and mental training have landed me so far
- Camaraderie with other runners
- Feeling of "solace" without much crowd support and very few other runners
- That feeling of pushing through physical discomfort and enduring it until the end of the race
- Checking a new state off of my marathon list (I'm not going for all 50, but would like to do a lot of states)
- Getting into a "groove" in the early miles and finding a rhythm
I'm not going soft. I'm not lowering the bar. I will run this race to the best of my ability in whatever the circumstances may be. In fact, that's bullet number 4. It's just that I am really broadening my horizons on what I can get out of the event.
Don't Over Think It!
Keeping in mind that my goal is to get as many bullet points that are available (I know that these are not all within my control) I know I will succeed. I think that a lot of my previous anxiety stemmed from not knowing how the race was going to play out. Was I going to bonk? Would I meet my goal time? What would my splits look like?
Now I realize that: A) I can actually predict most of what will happen B) For the things that I can't predict, I know how I will handle them, and that's actually what makes racing so exciting.
I can predict most of what will happen. I'll have a pretty good idea of what the weather will be a few days out. I know everything I'm going to do on race morning before the race starts. I know what the course is like-- I've studied the map. I know what pace I will start at and that I will evaluate that pace at the 10K mark to see if I should maintain it or speed up. I know that I will see Greg along the course and I know when I will take my gels. I know that at some point the race will start to feel hard and I will need to continue to push through it. I know that barring any stomach issues or injuries, I will finish the race.
- I trained so that I would be physically prepared to run this race. If I struggle during this marathon, it doesn't diminish my hard work-- my training will serve me well at future races this spring.
- It's been 5 years since I've had a strong marathon finish, but I don't feel like I am "due". It will happen when it's meant to happen. And it hasn't happened within the past 5 years for a reason
- A marathon time goal is far less significant than all the other goals I am working on this year. I'm working on overhauling a perfectionist mindset that I've had my entire life. Showing progress in that area is far more meaningful to me than a time.
- I have a great deal of evidence to show that I can be happy, proud, and satisfied when a race doesn't go as well as I would have liked. The Love Rox half marathon is perhaps the best example of that.
- I also have evidence that focusing on doing my best will make me feel physically and mentally strong during a race.
I feel ready for this marathon. I've been sleeping well, feeling strong, and staying focused on "taking what's available" next Saturday.