Sunday, April 04, 2010

surrender to the universe

Someone bought me a t-shirt once that said "surrender to the universe". It's something I'm not very good at - while I don't tend to think of myself as a typical type A (too many sloppy habits, I think) in truth I am quite controlling. I find it hard not to push for things to happen in a certain way, and much easier to drive myself to doing something than to sit back and let things happen for themselves. However, I am (very slowly) learning that most of the best things happen for me, and to me, when I'm not hell-bent and head-down pushing for a particular goal, but when I force myself to take my hands off the tiller and let myself see where I float. The problem, I think, with being too driven, is that I lose sight of whether what I'm driving myself towards is a good thing to be striving for in the first place. I lose touch with intuition and instinct when I'm too focused on a certain outcome.

Well, it's one thing to realise this - and that has taken me long enough, and I can't say it's truly sunken in - but quite another to live life according to these rules.

As I've said before, running is not something I grew up doing, or thinking I could do. I was and am pretty incompetent at most sports and grew up concentrating on my intellectual achievements rather than expecting anything of myself physically. My occasional attempts at getting fit in my twenties felt doomed before they even started - aerobics classes and sudden sprints around a park only seemed to prove that I was uncoordinated and incompetent. And unfit. It wasn't really until I found myself completely adrift from the goals I had set myself in other parts of my life (married, not working, mother of two small children, pretty broke rather than single, succesful career woman who put off having a family until she had everything materially and professionally in order) that I came to running. By that stage I had nothing left to prove, or lose (apart from, oh, 30kgs hanging around my belly, boobs and behind) and, thanks to John Bingham, I realised I could run slowly. Slowly, over time I improved and moved from the back of the pack to the midpack. Early last year, inspired by Jen who had told me that I could do it, I resolved to take my training to a new level and to do the Pfitzinger program. It worked for me in that I became much faster, much stronger and managed, in two marathons, to take well over a minute per mile over my previous PB and to Boston qualify. Completely beyond my wildest dreams, this.

And as you know, since December I have been training hard to get to Boston as strong and as fit as I can. I have had my ups and downs, my on weeks and my off weeks, but on the whole, things have gone okay. Until about 2 weeks ago, that is, when I developed runner's knee in my right knee, where I'd never had it before. I took time off, iced it, treated it, babied it and thought I was back to form last week. You read my post - I was back to happy times. However, after yesterday, my last long run of the season, it flared right back up again. I know what to do - I need to take more days off, and take it very easy now until the marathon. If I miss the last workouts of my taper, so be it.

As you can imagine, I am so disappointed. I had hoped that my knee was a temporary blip, and though I don't think it's anything deeply serious, it is clearly not in great shape and if I want to get to the marathon start at all, I need to give it a chance to heal up and for the inflammation to go down. And more so, of course, I am disappointed because I feel that I'm unlikely to put in a strong performance on marathon day. I want to rail against the fates and shout that it's not fair - this was meant to be my moment and I wanted to arrive at the starting line in tip-top form - not recovering from injury. Last night (at 3am, when else?) I compulsively went over my running stats from training for London and Berlin and I can see that I was a lot faster before those races, even before I got injured this time. I'm not sure what went wrong - maybe 18 weeks is too long to train for me. Maybe I'm just overtrained. Maybe I peaked too soon. Whatever.

But I'm back to where I started, aren't I? I can't control it all. Even if I were to arrive on marathon day in tip top shape and faster than ever before, bad weather or bad karma or whatever else could throw me off what I set out to do. Amazing how I've gotten so greedy so fast - to go from not running to being annoyed at not setting a PR at Boston...

So what is the point of today's blog? Well, I guess I'm trying to give myself a talking to. I'm sure you all agree I need it. I need to know - to understand - that it is how it is. I have done what I could to get ready for Boston. Whatever happens on raceday, happens. The only thing I can choose, I guess, is to really really enjoy it all - regardless of my time. Hard to let go of race time and pace, but once again, maybe the things I find so hard to do are the things I should be doing most of all.

So come and meet me in Boston, all of you who can, and let's have a great time. And if you think I need it, you can give me a quick slap around the head as well. Tell me to grow up, and enjoy. All I can change is my attitude right?

15 comments:

Marathon Maritza said...

You don't need a slap around the head, but you do need to trust in your training. Taking a few runs off during TAPER of all things, is not going to diminish all the hard work you have been putting in since December.

Seriously, you can do this. Just get to that starting line feeling healthy and good and then just roll with it. And have a fabulous time. IN BOSTON. Because my wonderful, inspirational, strong and kick-ass friend IS RUNNING BOSTON. High-five everyone, don't miss the sights by looking at the clock, who cares about the clock! Will you remember the clock or will you remember the feeling of it more? Don't miss the feeling, P. From what I hear, it's 26.2 miles of joy and party. Run with joy.

Lots of love, M

Irish Blue said...

Not sure I can improve upon what Maritza said. Running is one of those sports that generates so many emotions - joy, fear, excitement, anxiety, sometimes it's stress relieving, sometimes it's stress-creating. It can be punishing...and tough one day and feel like pure magic the next. Isn't that why we're all drawn to it...because it makes us FEEL things.

Go to Boston ALIVE. Drink it in - the people, the smells, the sounds, the experience.

"He conquers who endures."
~Persius

You will conquer Boston because you will endure Petra.

(Although if I were a bit worried, I would drive there and slap you in the head. ;-)

Susan said...

You are so dang wise. And AMAZING.

Take the rest. You need it and you deserve it. Like Maritza said, your training has been awesome so enjoy the Bean Town!!!

aron said...

hey lady! you know what you need to do, rest that knee up and get excited - TWO weeks to go!!! i wish i was going to be there with you so we could cruise the course and soak it up. seriously though, whatever happens on race day just make sure to ENJOY every second. who cares about your time and all that at this point? you worked SO hard to get there, don't let anything take away from that. if there was any race i was going into that i wasn't in my top game, boston would be the one i would want it to be. soak up the crowds, feed off the energy and just have yourself a little celebration party for actually BEING there! cant wait to read allll about it, now rest up those legs and don't worry <3

Road Warrior said...

Let it be. You have trained so hard and so long and given so much up to get to Boston. You're there now. Let the race be what it will be.

Boston is your celebration for everything that you worked so hard for and sacrificed so much for. Most people only dream of what you're about to do.

Let it be.

Tara said...

Petra I am like you and not a typical type A personality...at least I don't think I am...hehe You have worked your booty off to get where you are! You should be SO amazed with what you have achieved and embrace all that you have put into your trainig...the good and bad. I know all about injuries and they flare up at the most inconvienent times, but you're going to be at Boston!!!!! The holy Grail of marathons, so please enjoy yourself and not worry about your time. I'd highly reccommend running without a garmin or your timing device of choice, so that you can really soak up all Boston has to offer you! :)

peter said...

I agree with MM, and the rest, Boston is the reward, the challenge has already been met. It's for show, for drinking it in, a 26 mile celebration of your success at running, of your being a part of a special group. It just unfolds for you,the bus ride out there, the waiting for it to start, the flyover, the downhill stretch, Wellsley, HH, entering Boston, coming upon the finish. The pinnacle of your marathoning. A great run in a great city, and no matter what your time is, you'll do better than you think. Go collect the reward for your hard work!

Emz said...

Enjoy it! I am so jealous. I didn't qualify until late December so I missed out on the 2010 Boston. :( But I'll be cheering you on from AZ! Way to go!!

Emz said...

BTW - you are my new best friend. ;)
Thanks so much for the comment on my blog. I'll be following your blog!! [in a non-creepy way] ;)

Meg said...

So should I slap you before or after I hug and kiss you? Just kidding, I think we've all been through what you articulated so well...that's why I keep coming back. I just love your thoughts and perspective and it kind of "slapped" me back into what's important .
SO, we should all have those t-shirts made because "surrender to the universe" is exactly what I want to be wearing for the rest of my life...it's a pretty peaceful mantra!
Finally, you'd love my track coach because he is SO positive and he would say that at this point, we should embrace this race and run it with joy...forget about the peaking, the paces and the aches and pains and run for fun. I think that's why we're doing it, right?
Hugs, Petra...thanks for bringing me back to reality, Surrender today:)!
Sorry this is so long...

lizzie lee said...

Dear Petra... Regardless... regardless what happens, remember: you earned it, and conditions are NOT always the same. Racing is one thing and running is another. You and I have proven that time after time. I am going today for my last 20-miler and I know I will not perform even close to my 30K race two weeks ago, but I will surrender to the universe. It is mind over body. Let your knee whine, keep babying it, and still even if it hurts the day before of the marathon, you won't even notice it that gorgeous Monday of April 19th.

trust yourself, and yes surrender to the universe and smell the roses during those amazing 26.2.

sincere-lee
lizzie lee

runningcommentaries said...

You can do it. I'm so sorry to hear about your knee, but you can do it. And you're running Boston which is amazing, once in a lifetime and well-deserved.

And remember. You are an athlete. You are strong and you have this.

Julianne said...

I loved reading your post and all the wonderful encouragements/comments that others left you. And I agree with them. You're gonna do great. Just do your thang! I mean, it's BOSTON after all!!!

jen said...

I'm late to the pity party (joking!) but I do agree with everyone else. You'll going to do great. You are fast, even with a twingy knee. And Boston is going to be an incredible and memorable experience and you need to be grateful and excited about that. The longer you are out there, the longer you have to soak it in. I had the slowest marathon of my career there and it was the best marathon I'll ever run. But I doubt that will be the case, you're going to do great. Chin up sweetie! Life is good! :)

jeanne said...

The title of this post is positively prescient. How do you manage to do that??!