And here we are, in April, which means only one thing: race month.
When we last chatted, I had just run a strong 21-miler at the Arboretum with Mort, and I had about a month and change left til Eugene. Now, as the weekend approaches, I’ve got my third and final 20(+) miler of the training cycle, as well as the world’s largest 8k race the following day, and then will slowly and gradually start to taper off the long distances each Saturday morning from here til 4/28. (Sidenote: the only real goal for Sunday’s 8k is to be faster than last year’s 36:51, which I did after having my second sinus infection in four weeks, not running for five consecutive days because of it, and running 20 miles the day before in an obviously sub-par state. If I can’t post sub-36:51, I’ll be irked).
If you follow me on twitter and/or dailymile, it’s redundant of me to say in this space how cautiously optimistic and borderline thrilled I am that my training seems to be clicking these days. Last weekend’s 18 miler, back out at the Arboretum, except this time around, with David and a bunch of his friends from the Evanston Running Club, went exceedingly well, with a 7:36 average and two of my last 6 at a 7:01. David needed to run a 7:49 average for his 13 miler, and I thought that was a tall order–since that’s faster than my projected Eugene MP–but we stuck together and flew through it on the Arboretum’s hills.
Aside from these past couple strong long runs, my speed stuff of late has been surprising me as well: 8x800s a couple weeks ago, ranging between a 3:04-3:23, and just a couple days ago, 4 sub-7 mile repeats embedded into a 10 miler.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not listing all my training “accomplishments” to boast or anything like that–but I think what has helped things to “click” from the beginning of this training cycle has been my balls-out effort to convince myself here *points to forehead* and here *points to heart* that I am totally capable of going sub-3:30 in 24 days (wow… hello, wave of anxiety).
I would be lying if I told you that I haven’t been talking to myself–yup, out loud and everything–on some of my hard workouts in the past few weeks.
You’ve probably seen it just as much as I have, all this literature about sports psychology, flexing your mental muscle, overcoming your fears, chasing your A goal, all different sorts of “you can do it! just believe in yourself!” new age-y, self-help, ultra-motivational diatribes out there; hell, I linked to a bunch of resources about this very topic just a couple months ago!
While I think there is definitely some degree of “yeah, but…” that inevitably comes with folks believing that they should go after their ultimate race goal (namely: how has your training been… for starters, have you been training? any nagging injuries? and your diet, how have you been fueling your machine?), I think I am slowly but surely coming to the realization that, barring absolute catastrophe (read: hurricanes and superstorms, GI malfunctions), there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to finally realize my dream of entering club sub-3:30 in 24 days.
Nobody else is putting this pressure on me but me, myself, and I, and truthfully, I’ve started and stopped writing this post repeatedly–and have even considered deleting it–because the vulnerability of putting myself and my goal OUT THERE like this is just… well, it’s fucking scary. Heebee-jeebee inducing.
However, I need to.
I’ve got nothing to fear about this goal any more.
I’m doing the work–the training, the speed, the strength, the core stuff–and the important ancillary stuff–sleeping and fueling effectively–so the only person (or thing?) weighing me down from *not* realizing my goal, at this point, is me.
So… here we are.
Twenty-four more days to wrap my head around my goal, to continue to train as well (read: effectively and intelligently) as I can, and perhaps most importantly, to continue to train… uh, my head (?), that FDR must have been a closet marathoner, talking about realizing our race goals, when he said that we had nothing to fear but fear itself.