I can't explain yesterday's race other than I believed I could.
I'm still trying to process what happened yesterday on the course of the California International Marathon. All I know is that I do have a race report to write that will come with time and reflection.
So first, about barriers. How we put them up. How we stare at them with fear. How we think they'll always be unbreakable. And how we take the steps to reconcile what barriers are -- by tactically scaling them, avoiding them altogether, by taking them with a head and heart full of steam.
When I relate barriers to my running life, I think about how far I can run, how fast I can run far and whatever limitations I have, whether it's an imperfect stride or a straying diet, gets in the way of the barrier, let alone any goals. I've written of the notion of fear, and how it can motivate you to greatness.
Belief is a strong thing. Yesterday, I could feel it envelope me. By the time I had made it to the start line, I had heard from my coach who said she believed, from friends who thought I had it in me. Even as I was at the start, blissfully unaware of the three plus hours ahead of me, I was happy, confident, purposeful. I believed.
On the course, I would draw upon it step after step. I asked myself so many questions. Can I run this fast this late? Can my hamstring hold? Can I catch up to that pace bunny that I could only see with my minds eye and a glance at my watch. Can I break that barrier?
Boston's ultimate qualifier is a 3:05. When the bar was moved higher and higher, years back, I got so intimidated that I would only wait for myself to age, which would move that bar just a little lower. My comeback this year, I thought about how I want to take that down that I would look past 3:15. I removed the barrier. I just wanted to go as fast as I could aspire to. I wanted to train up to my potential, not to a barrier one race put in front of me.
So yesterday, when I passed the 3:05 bunny with 5k to go, I thought nothing of how comfortable it would be to settle in for the ride. The barrier was no longer a number, but a measure of effort, a test of will and a expression of fitness and of belief.
Belief is a tricky thing. Some blindly believe, just trusting that great things will happen. My version of belief is spiritual yet grounded in reality. Yesterday I thought of the miles I put in, the run streak, the fast times I've closed in workouts and races.
Belief was manifested yesterday in the reflection of the work put in, in mantras I uttered on the course and of the experience I bought to my 29th marathon. Belief was spurred on by the emotional and logical sides of my makeup, expended with each stride that at one point was happy go lucky and on the next step purposeful. At the end of it all I couldn't believe I had crossed the finish in 3:02:55 but I had been present in every second that preceded the finish and it was belief that fueled the run. Only this morning I have come to that conclusion and it's the most happy-amazing-gratifying-emotional feeling you can think of. I ran my fastest yesterday simply because I believed I could.