Monday, March 14, 2011

Training for success?

This was going to be a post about my new Lenten resolution.  I was listening to a Phedippidations episode recently where Steve Runner suggested that instead of giving something up for Lent you made a commitment to spend the Lenten period going over your life, outlining your goals and the direction of your life and working out whether you were where you wanted to be and if not, what you could do about it.  Noble, and after a long run it was absorbed, as my father would say, like a sermon to an elder (it works better in Dutch, this, als een preek in een ouderling). 

All well and good.  Inspired by Amanda's prolific journaling (she has 3 tiny children!  She runs like the the wind!  and she maintains MASSES of journals AND her husband writes meaningful thoughtful considered comments in their marriage journal!  If I didn't adore this woman I'd have to resent her!) I decided I would try to write in my journal every evening and come to meaningful conclusions about my life, where it's taking me, what I need to work on, what I need to be grateful for. Etc.  (No marriage journal yet - I'm staying within the bounds of realism here folks.  I adore my husband, and it's mutual, but he's English).  

Anyhoo.  I was also going to post about effective goal-setting, and how I was doing this, and how this meant I was going to kick some mental *ss on Sunday by running the Ashby 20 miler exactly as the coach specified - 12 miles easy, last 8 at goal pace.  

Life sort of took over.  First off, the week leading up to this race weekend was too hectic for me to get my post in. (And therefore, probably, too hectic for me to actually prepare mentally).  I drove hundreds of miles to pick children up at races and reading competitions, drop children off, sort out bits and bobs for my kitchen which is nearly done, etc. etc.  Then I went to bed too late the night before the race and aaarggh - woke up at 1am and started one of my rare but very unpleasant sleepless nights.  The adrenalin about the race was coarsing through my veins, I was piling on the pressure.  (Note - I'm pretty emotionally full-on when sober, rested and in daylight.  At 2am I am unbearable. I know that). I probably fell asleep around 4:30, and the alarm went off at 6:30.  Bleary-eyed, I drove the 90 minutes to the race start only to find I was fairly underdressed for a damp, cold and windy day.  Nonetheless, I warmed up for 2 miles (coach had decided to make today my first ever 22 miler in training) and started full of good cheer and happiness and happily ploughed along for the first 12 hilly miles at a 9:40 minute mile pace.  I noted the hills, felt some fear, but then told myself I'd be fine.  And for 3 miles, I was.  Running slowly had put me towards the end of the pack and speeding up I found myself overtaking everyone - even on the uphills.  I was really pushing.  And then, 3.3 miles into race pace land (15.3 miles into the race for those counting), I was done. Spent. Exhausted. I made a split-second decision to go to plan B - finish the race - and switched off the Garmin program.  I slowed down to RP +20/30 and made it to the finish, still continuously overtaking people (not a ONE person overtook me, even when i had to stop and stretch out my cramping left leg 3 times in the last mile).  Finally, I finished in 3:08.  

Not an abysmal race.  I ran it in much better conditions in 3:07 2 years ago.  But still.  I had failed to achieve what I had set out to do. I had tried to convince myself I could do those last 8 miles at RP and I had failed.  I know I'm not meant to think that, but I do. 

I've come home, had a bath, slept like a log, and feel a bit better today.  My legs are fine, my knee's held up.  My ego is still feeling a bit battered (not aided by race photos which are just BEYOND hideous.  I do NOT look like that.  I know I said I wasn't going to be comparing myself but right now that is too challenging) but I'll just have to man up and do better.  Coach and I have talked and I think lack of sleep and bad nutrition (only one GU) have contributed.  Onwards and upwards. 

In the meantime, I want your views on this running metaphysical question  - how do I push myself, reset my central governor, focus on my time goal AND at the same time make it okay for myself if things do not work out for me in Boston? Tips / tricks and advice most gratefully received.  

Finally - ending on an upnote - this race has the best goodie bag I know.  A big comfortable soft hooded top and a cheese and tomato sandwich.  All I was missing was a bottle of beer and I might just have gotten over myself somewhat sooner... 


Kate said...

Awesome finish time! Isn't it kind of funny to step back and look at ourselves and the fact that we CHOOSE to run for 3+ hours at a time? We are crazy people.

I love that idea to work out the direction of your life. It gives you a reason to reflect on each day and process it all. Amanda is pretty amazing and so is her husband for taking part in the marriage journal. But then again, he's not english. ;)

I love journaling and reflecting - it comes down to making time for it.

That's it, you've inspired me! I am going to make an effort to do the same.

THANKS for yet another thought provoking post. Keep up the strong running. You're kicking some serious boo-tay.

(and sorry for the super long comment- I just always have so much to say in response to your posts!)

Lindsay and James Cotter said...

for some reason, getting past 15 miles is such a mental battle. The weight falls in and you just want to give in. Nice job petra!! YOu surpassed it!

Emz said...

I love your writing.

I love reading your writing.

I love that Lent photo. I need that. it's way too good.

Can't freaking wait to see you!!

Meg said...

You ARE the real deal, always, 100%. Transparent and honest...that is one of MY goals this month!

So...I've been down this road before and let myself slide off the road, down into a gully. It's not fun climbing out!
I think you need to totally forget this run, it was fine, you did it, now move on. Head up, know that you are capable of all of this AND MORE and let that be your guide and motivation. Don't look back in the rearview mirror, look forward!
What I've learned from my last training period, last fall, was that you can have a goal. You should have a goal. Put your head into your training and do the best you can but remember, it's just training towards your goal. It's not the end all. That helps me remember that it's like practice for any other sport, we get more chances to improve our fitness and technique; physically and mentally. You can't "fail" at training, it's just practice. Your real goal should be for the race!
Regarding the race, you've done the hard stuff and now it's just your body and governor's chance to pull it off. Another wise coach told me last year, your time goal is just a number. What is your REAL goal for this race? Hmmm...that really made me think! It also gave me another reason to run the race...and enjoy it!

Meg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Cheese and tomato? That sounds like heaven! :)

What seems to work for me is to majorly psych myself up before a race, i.e. have myself CONVINCED that it will go beautifully (hense Cowtown, where that worked for 24 of 26.2 miles). If the wheels start to fall off, you'll be in a good place and will handle it better than if you're going into it all worried about pace. In other words, just run the damn race! (How's that for end-of-the pack advice???)

Jill said...

Hey Petra...

I wrote this on your buddy, Amanda's, blog recently....but there goes: It's not easy to take something we've invested so much time and energy and even money on and NOT feel bad when things do not go according to plan, especially the long run, which is pivotal in our mindset (My God how can we do 26.2 miles at MP when we can't even do 8?? etc)....but you've got to not let this one run control need to control IT! You are stronger than this one run and you WILL persevere in Boston. You will get your nutrition and hydration down pack and you will run like the wind and you will DO your Boston gig - and you will cross smiling big!! :)
(In the winter of '09, I couldn't nail a long run - AT ALL. None of them. Not even the easy slow runs - my pace was all over the map and nowhere near I wanted it to be. But I stood on the start line of Boston and I pushed all those runs to the side. I didn't think for one second about those past long runs....I just ran, and I stuck to my plan, and I crossed better han I expected - even with the stomach cramps I got at mile 22).

Y0u can do it, Petra!! You get to go to Boston and meet some of your favorite bloggers, you get to finally make that journey to the start line after that stupid volcano ordeal last year and you GET to run Boston. How can that be anything but a WIN!?!

Trust your training, you put it in the right hands - all is going to be amazing!

Love the picture, love your smile! :)

Anonymous said...

That hooded top was in your goodie bag? That is WONDERFUL (take note race directors!) Sounds like you've pinpointed two key factors: sleep and nutrition. Get those basics covered and there will be less to worry when focusing on your time goal. Trust your training. The training and the races leading to Boston are just part of the foundation that you'll draw from at Boston. You will do it!

Aka Alice said...

There are so many thoughtful responses here so far...and ditto to them kind to yourself.

I run like absolute crap on not enough sleep and a busy week of running kids around.

I think Kate said it best...isn't it funny that we choose to do run (and can't imagine life without it). I felt like such a failure that despite being hurt I "only" ran 6 miles on Saturday.

Sometimes I think we all need to be kinder to ourselves.

Fran said...

I have no experience with marathon training but reading the other comments I think they gave helpful advice to you.

So I'm just gonna write what I want to write: to me you're a rockstar for finishing 20 miles!

And funny but I don't know the Dutch saying, never heard of it and that comes from a girl with a Christian background LOL

I never knew that Lent is "held" in so many other countries. The only thing I know about it is that it starts after "carnaval" and that the Dutch do celebrate Carnaval as you know but as soon as it's time for Lent they don't do that :)

Anonymous said...

The idea that while marathon training, I will run 4-5 hours...I cannot even wrap my brain around that information! Crazy!

And someecards are hysterical! I post them on my FB on a weekly basis at least!

Running and living said...

Blogger just ate my comment...

I don't think you ran a bad race. You ran 22 miles, not 20 like last year, you ran 3+ miles at goal pace, and did all of these on 2 hour of sleep, prerace stress, bad nutrition. These negatives are all changeable. For Boston you will be tapered, rested, not running around in circles like you did before this race.

I wrote this post recently about defining a good race - I think it is what you are asking for, how to run a race and not be disappointed if you don't get your goal.

lizzie lee said...

Dear Petra, in every training run you learn something, so nothing bad about it. We train for long, not only to get physically and mentally prepared, but also to get logistically prepared. You live and learn...

Now, if our friendship permits.. Can I scold you for a second?
Only one GU?

much love across the Atlantic

Amanda@runninghood said...

oh Petra, I am so glad I saw this. I've been horrible about blogs lately and just tonight I sat down and decided I'd try to hit up the ones that I love the most (yours being one of them) and I saw this. Thank you for your kind words about me and I'm so glad you adore me and not resent me.

You are such a raw and honest writer. I love your writing so much. Always makes me know you better and see that you are so genuine!

I think all these comments that others had to say were great..i don't know that I could add anything. Especially after Meg's comment. :)

Just move past this run and focus on the future! I'm so sad that I won't be in Boston to meet you! :( So many of my favorite people are going to be, Raina, Meg, Janae....I will be cheering you from afar!

Love the idea of using Lent to really take a deeper look at our life. Thank you for this!

Love to you! Amanda