Monday, September 22, 2008

How I got here

In mid-May, I was reading the Pfitzinger Douglas book Advanced Marathoning, which I have called my marathoning bible for the past two years. I was flipping through the well worn training section at the back, the 55 mile, 18-week program. But my hand turned a few pages and I started to pore over the 70 mile, 18-week section.

It was only a few weeks after I'd run my spring marathon and I felt there was unfinished business. But looking at those pages, I was intimidated. I counted more than 5 20+milers, two or three mid-week runs of 10 to 15 miles. A Thursday or Friday (Who the hell trains on Friday!) run of about 10 miles. To me, it was staggering. Six days of running and an average mileage in the mid-60s and topping at 70. The thought of logging 112 kilometres in a week while commuting and working was pretty scary. That's even without factoring the LT runs, the V02 sessions, the pace runs.

Not to mention that I had a new marathon pace of a 7:15 mile or 4:30 kilometre for that 3:10 goal. Fact is, I knew I had to step up the volume. Nothing but hard work and extra hours on the road would get me up to fitness.

It was intimidating, but I took the challenge. I gave up summer evenings out in favour of running the trails. When I did go out, I was always planning my next run.

It's funny, I'm deathly afraid of the last 6 miles of the marathon. I've hit the wall pretty hard twice and even though I ran a great consistent marathon in May without hitting the wall, the fact that it exists scares me.

If there's one thing that is giving me some peace, some feeling of confidence moving into race day, it's something I read on Simon Whitfield's blog a few weeks back after he won the silver medal in Beijing. His race was amazing and he dug down when they counted him out. One excerpt of his race report really stuck out. Not only stuck out, it was almost a revelation :

Race day I felt so relaxed and happy, the days leading into the race set me up to arrive at the pontoon knowing we had done everything possible to get to the start line prepared and ready to take a crack at it. Jennie sent me the perfect email the night before, it contained words of support that were the final nail in the coffin for any fear I had of failure. I felt like all I had to do was express my fitness, I wasn't hoping for miracles, simply expressing fitness earned through hard work. The race unfolded perfectly and when I tossed my visor off with 800meters to go I was basically stating to myself that I was going to fight to win all the way to the line and after running so patiently for 9.2 kms - it was now or never.
So that's my own pep talk I've been repeating now and again "expressing fitness earned through hard work." How true is that? Marathons aren't necessarily about pulling out a miracle on race day. True, weather, fuelling, race course can work for you or against you. You need the mental toughness in those final miles. But the foundation of that is fitness, earned through hard work.

They say race is your victory lap, that the race was the training that got you to the starting line. I think after all these thousands of miles, I'm slowly learning -- and believing -- what that means.


Marlene said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by! I love coming across more Torontonian running bloggers. As you know, I'm a "virgin marathoner" going for my first this weekend. The best advice anyone has given me is to treat the marathon as a reward for the training. I get the same message from your post.

Sounds like you've done some intense training this summer and I'm sure it will pay off on Sunday. Looking forward to reading about it!

Marky Mark said...

You are SO ready!

Meanwhile, I've screwed up. I now realize that I have logged about 525 miles in my shoes! Should I buy the identical ones in a new pair and run the two more runs I'm planning before Sunday in the new shoes and then use them on race day? Or too late to change?

Sonia said...

Good job on the pep talk!! I believe you =)

You'Re going to kick some marathon ass this week-end!! I will be in NS but will look at your blog to see how you did!

peter said...

Real nice post, yumke. Nice inspirational thoughts and sayings. You've come a long way since the Pig and worked hard. Now you're going to take your reward.