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?