“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” ~George S. Patton, 1912 Olympian, U.S. Army General
Well, the verdict is in – I didn’t fall off a ladder and break my leg or even twist my ankle this week (althoughI almost hit a buck tonight), so I guess I do have to run the Hershey Half Marathon tomorrow morning. I’ve spent this past week painting the upper half of our bathroom – 2 coats of primer, 2 coats of finish, and 3 coats on the trim. Painting was fun…. for the first 45 minutes, after that, not so much. I also spent the week thinking about the fact that I was trying not to think about the fact that I’m registered to “run” a half marathon tomorrow. My running neighbor, Mrs. T, would ask me at the bus stop each morning, “So, are you getting ready?”. I would pretend like I didn’t know what subject she was referring to even though I absolutely did, but I’ve been trying to appear to be more consumed with painting than gearing up for a race. In my efforts to appear nonchalant, I didn’t even check Sunday’s weather forecast until Thursday. Thankfully tomorrow is looking like a beautiful day!
Confession time – I have been gearing up, watching videos and reading articles about pacing, hydration, carb loading, and general race etiquette as well as trying to figure out how to adhere the words “If found on the ground, please drag to the finish line” on my shirt. The big question that hangs in my mind is… am I going to set a goal time? This is the question that has haunted me for the past 16 weeks. My friends who also enjoy running ask it almost every time I see one of them. “What pace are you going to try to run?” I’ve thought long and hard about this question although I think I knew the answer all along. My answer is (drumroll please….) I’m not setting a goal time other than hoping to finish +/-5 minutes of last year’s time. Why no specific pace time? You see, I’ve spent the last 16 weeks hitting goals almost every week.
Even though I ran a half marathon last October and am on the verge of publicly referring to myself as a “jogger,” I still view myself as that girl in 10th grade who couldn’t finish one mile in less than 12 minutes for the presidential fitness award test in gym class. I’ve spent the past 16 weeks realizing I’m not that girl anymore. I can actually go faster than that, and I can do it on my own without my neighbor to drag me through it. That was my goal this year – to do it on my own. It’s a lot easier to run 11 miles when there’s someone to talk to about your last cooking fiasco instead of thinking about how your right leg feels ploddy because your quad is beginning to cramp, your left knee is starting to hurt, and your hips just ache. I’ve run 3 double digit long runs on my own – almost 300 miles total of training, without stopping or puking or calling Daniel to come pick me up. Before this summer, 6 miles was the longest run I had ever done by myself, so this summer’s training in and of itself ranks up there with other events which I would call my defining life moments.
All of my training has taken place without a timing device. Other than trying to remember to check my start and stop times, I pretty much ran a pace that was comfortable and stretched me a bit for that day, so why should I try to run by the clock tomorrow? The year before Alice was born, Daniel and I spent summer evenings bike riding together. My bike was outfitted with a handy-dandy speedometer attached to my handlebars which I watched religiously; it took all the fun out of biking. I began to dread our evening rides. Once I got back on the bike a few years post Alice’s birth, I ditched the speedometer and have never looked back. That has been my approach to running, probably influenced by my neighbor’s lack of concern for her times as well, no gadgets or gizmoos to tell me I should be moving faster every time I slip on the running shoes. My life moves fast enough when I’m not in running shoes; so oddly enough, I guess I like to slow down and catch my breath when I run, enjoy the sunrise without needing to check my watch or step up the pace. I fear that a little device ordering me to move faster at 5:30am would squelch any desire I have to get up and actually move to beging with, so I choose to enjoy being clock-less for the most part. My theory on exercise is if you’re not enjoying it at least a little bit, there’s a better sport/exercise program for you.
So this brings me back to my semi-clock-less goal for 2012. While I usually try to mellow out and enjoy the scenery during my workouts, I do plan to give it all I have tomorrow morning. My goal will be not only to finish without stopping, puking or fainting and relatively close to my time from last year, but also to finish utterly and completely exhausted knowing I couldn’t have given one ounce more. It will be the first time I run 13.1 miles by myself, by my own motivation; and that is worth celebrating.