May 14, 2010

Someone to Identify With

It's a quiet night at home, and I just finished watching one of my favorite movies (Bridget Jones's Diary) and reading Marathon & Beyond magazine. I came across an article by Steve Paske titled "2:59:59 How close can you shave your goal?" I shared my blog recently with someone, and after doing so, I took a little reread adventure. (I had one of those, "OMG, is this person going to totally judge me?" moments.) Meaning, I went back and read some posts from awhile ago. Can I say that I am far less moody than my blog implies? I guess this is a little outlet for my feelings, because in real life, I am far less dramatic. Haha. I also realized that I haven't written about my own running much recently. I wrote a few things here and there, but nothing specific. I think it's time to address that.

At the start of 2010, I knew I had to change some things in my life. The first being my attitude. I was getting on my own nerves by the seriousness and influence the Sub 3 goal had over me. In reality, I think I used running to hide behind a lot of other feelings I was/am having. It's easy to get upset about running, b/c then you don't have to get upset about *real* stuff going on in your life. On top of that, stress was bringing down my running and my down running was bringing down my mood, making me more stressed! Talk about a cycle-whew. I'm not really sure at what point I made this little decision, but I decided to just run for fun this year. I decided I would only do races that I really *wanted* to do, races that promised to be a fun experience. So far, so good (except last weekend, but who can tell the pastor's wife no?). This decision might also be a way for me to put my Sub 3 goal on the shelf, out of view.

Back to the article. This man started aiming for Sub 3 in 2004. His training was right, he was on track with tune-up races, then injury hit. He came back too soon and too hard, only to be plagued by injury/illness/something funky in the Boston Marathon. The man is obviously a do-gooder, a teacher, and a coach. All things I can totally identify with. He and his wife moved to Bolivia to teach, only for him to catch E. Coli. He spent more time in and out of therapy for the injury, tried running again and again, but failed b/c of pain. During a time of depression, his wife divorced him.

He came back (again), trained, and made another attempt, only to be burdened with stomach problems. Quad Cities was a legitimate chance for him, and he dropped out after mile 23 when he realized he would not finish under 3 hours. More injury, more comeback.

The final race was a close one. This time, some girls from the cross country team he coached came to run the final few miles with him. The girls attempted to encourage him, just like he had done for them many times. And he makes it, 2:59:59.

Tonight was actually the 2nd time I read the article. I read it for the first time over breakfast on Wednesday, but had to put it down. It struck me in a way that was way too close to home. The number of trials and tribulations this man went through is quite lengthy. The thing that's inspiring is that he DID NOT GIVE UP. Not one time did he quit his goal, or think he couldn't do it.

What makes a person want to achieve things? Not just talking about running totally, but life in general? I know lots of lazy people, and I'm sure you do, too. What gives some people that fire and not others? There have been times recently that I've wanted to want to quit. Does that make sense? Like, I would actually say I quit, then rethink the decision. But, why? Even things that seem impossible, things that will never go right or be the way I want them to be. This little glimmer of hope is always there. Sometimes that little glimmer of hope feels like a curse. For a little while, it might be nice not to care. It's something inside me (and a lot of you) that forces that goal.

The article was a tough one to read b/c it made me realize how much I still want that Sub 3. I tried to deny it, like it wasn't important. It's a hard goal, a difficult one, one that seems farther instead of closer. My training is looking solid, but my racing... not so much. My LR paces are great, racing- no. That means there is one and only one problem- a mental barrier. Last weekend, I had my fastest LR in YEARS (one that was NOT an MP run, just regular training). This run felt awesome, easy, like I could've done a marathon. This is upsetting to me b/c it was the day AFTER the 5K. I wasn't even sore, not even a tad! Nor was I even tired. You might be thinking, "Wow, that's lucky." But no, not lucky. It means I was unable to push myself. As a track coach, I know that the athlete unable to push himself is the worst kind.

Is a goal on a shelf still a goal? And is my goal really still on the shelf? I know it's there, but I also know it's not happening any time soon. It's kind of like the National Board Certification. It is there, but no time soon. And, what would make it happen? I'm pretty sure it's not a certain training program or a certain coach. I'm pretty sure it isn't weight loss. I am only 2 pounds from Glover's Racing Weight now. I feel like I've gotten my vitamins and iron under control. That leaves one little thing- my BRAIN. I've read the books, tried the techniques, and nada.

All I can hope is that over time my Sub 3 race (and life in general) will come together. In this past year, my faith has really, really, like really been tested. At times it has even gone away (at least I thought it did). So I don't come across as a total hypocrite, I will admit that many Sundays I haven't been able to bear the thought of church. One prayer/thought/piece of encouragement that I always fall back on is that God always has a plan for us. When all else fails, I can just remember that there is a plan. Some days might be awesome, some might suck a major egg, but it's all part of The Plan. Thank goodness Someone's looking out for me!

Here's the final portion of the article by Paske:

What I did live through was feeling a sudden weight lifted from my shoulder. For years, this mundane goal had consumed me. The moment I crossed that line wasn't the best moment I've felt in running, but it was a feeling different from any other I've had, almost as if someone had taken a yoke off my next.


  1. Anonymous5/14/2010

    I just wanted to say that I liked this post and could relate to it even though I'm so far from even being allowed to think about a sub 3 hour marathon that it's not even funny.

    I wonder if the guy was like, "eh, 2:59:59?" was meeting his goal by one second enough or was he already looking for more?

  2. Anonymous5/14/2010

    such a great post. while i'm still a marathon newbie i definitely relate to chasing goals. i can't tell you how many times i've "quit" something only to get annoyed at myself for having that attitude and then attacking the goal with gusto. i guess the mental barrier is another thing that makes me a mini you :) but i have faith that the sub-3 is yours! only a matter of time girl!

  3. Goals and passion for them is a funny thing. I wouldn't say it's good to give up on a goal, but I think sometimes when we let our go just a little bit, we surprise ourselves. At least in my experience I tend to do best (and PR) in races where I've had the lowest expectations and been disappointed at races where I've felt a lot of pressure. Kind of like people who want to have a child for a really long time but don't conceive until they "give up" and adopt. I but you will get sub-3, and it will surprise the heck out of you. I can't wait to read that post :).

  4. So glad you found this article, it's just what you needed to know you are not alone in your quest for the holy grail.

    About that wonderfully fast run after the 5K - you can't put a negative spin on that, sorry, not allowed. Are you a 5K specialist or a marathoner? Be thrilled that you did what matters most to an eventual sub-3 runner, you had a breakthrough LR. Yay!!!

  5. Anonymous5/15/2010

    Sounds like a great article and this is a great post! I think every person you meet will have their own approach to such a goal. I'm not at your level, but if I were I would only be able to approach a serious goal like that if I were able to look at it as: I'm going for a sub-3 and if it doesn't happen I'm going to have some other amazing wins along the way like a new amazing PR, probably lots of awards, and really see how much my body can handle. I would have to be able in general to enjoy the journey and not use the a goal like that as a punishment, like I'm not good enough unless I reach the goal. But that's just me. I've never been through your level of trainging so I may not realy get it. I would imagine that all the setbacks make the moment that much sweeter when the goal is reached. And if it's not reached I would be satisfied knowing I really gave it everything I had.
    I love reading your posts! You are such a strong and amazing runner and person. I look up to you for being so honest and looking at things from every angle.

  6. I can definitely relate to your post (though for me its a sub 5 marathon). For me, I feel like running under 5 is a mental barrier. I know I can do it. I did a 20-miler yesterday that felt way too easy, as fast as I've ever done it, but too easy. I had more to give at the end that I could have given during the LR.

    I'm going to keep reminding myself of this during my training and during my upcoming marathon. Thanks for your post!

  7. Don't sweat all of this - the one thing that I've learned from all of my attempts at 3 hours is that (with you having worked at it as hard as you have) that it will all fall together, and not just once. It did for me in 2006, and I've been fortunate enough to run under three hours twice since. Bawled at the finish line like a baby the first time, though, and I'm never that emotional otherwise. Don't give up! RunningPT12