This week is the somewhat predictable mix of nerves and doubt (plus excitement), a.k.a. the pre-race racing of the mind. I’m sure if you were able to record my internal dialogue it would be some manic jumble that would leave you awkwardly shaking your head and backing away slowly. At least there are some more reasonable thoughts in there too like “Did I do/think this last time?” So this is a record of my pre-race insanity to look back on next time and be like “Oh, yeah. You went off the deep end then too and you still had a fine race.” Future Sarah, here’s a glimpse into your brain 4 days before your target half marathon.
I suppose it’s inevitable that when you get to the end of a training cycle, project, etc. you stop to reflect on the leg of the journey you’ve just completed, and while I’ve done my fair share of reflecting on the specifics of workouts and paces, mostly I find myself pondering what it means to me to be on this particular journey. I am both a physical and, for lack of a better word, sensitive, person by nature, and I’ve found much credence in the idea that if you want to find your true passion you just need to imagine yourself at 10 years old. Our 10 year old selves had no imposed filter for joy, and for me play was 100% physical. My best friend and I were known to the school nurse as the Blister Sisters because we were always coming to her after intense bouts of monkey ring challenges for bandages. After school I biked, I ran around the woods behind my parents’ house. We stayed outside until our noses (and gloves) were crusted, until it started to get dark and we were forced in for dinner. Summers were swimming, barefoot games in the grass, more swimming. The sensitive kid in me had an intuitive handle on herself, which paid/pays off in being able listen to my mind and body.
This morning when I checked the temp to suit up for my run, I was greeted with the harsh reality of a 35 degree low. Yes, it’s late October, but this cold snap came on very suddenly. Sunday afternoon I was sitting on my porch in a very comfortable 70-something degrees. But even if it had been a more gradual descent into colder weather, and this morning hadn’t felt quite so jarring, I’d still prefer the warmer temps.
I’ve been feeling the itch to write lately, and I remembered this little space of mine sitting here neglected, so I blew the digital dust off my login screen and am sitting here wanting to say everything and nothing (but mostly everything).
First thing’s first, I’m gearing up for a half marathon and training is going swimmingly. I am loving my workouts, I am hitting my goals, and I am getting more and more eager to see what happens on November 4th, with the appropriate amount of nervous energy also starting to accumulate. My grand 5K experiment last spring resulted in a PR, though not until August when I was starting my half marathon build-up. It took me awhile to get the hang of 5Ks, and I learned many times over that they are not easy and, oh my, they do not feel short. I had some fantasy of them feeling like the first 3.1 miles of a half marathon I started too fast, which is to say I wanted to feel like an winged goddess for an effortless 3 miles and then stop. As it turns out, you can also start a 5K too fast and that least lone mile can feel like a small eternity. The silver lining was figuring out what it really felt like to run hard, and discovering that it feels, well, really (really) hard. It’s been nice to return to longer forms of speed work, and also to be hungry for a longer race. It’s possible I’ve confirmed, for myself at least, that my propensity is for longer distances, but I’m glad I shook things up and tried something slightly uncomfortable and new.
Well, let’s just call my daily writing challenge a fail and move on, shall we? It’s not so much that I am unable to sit and write every day, I actually enjoy writing quite a bit. I think I’ve created other, unnecessary, blocks for myself. I sit down to write and I realize I’ve failed to take any pictures, and sometimes taking said pictures, of myself anyway, requires stepping outside of my comfort zone. Does it matter that I don’t have image heavy posts? Probably not. Mostly I’m compelled to document and share my journey, and for me that means writing about it. Will I write more if I remove this self-created pressure? Maybe, and perhaps if I revamp my goal with this caveat (no pressure to snap daily running selfies) I’ll find a happy medium for myself. Okay, enough of the meta talk about blogging. I’ve probably written more about writing than anything else. Let’s talk running.
The past few mornings when I’ve opened the door to head out to run, I’ve been greeted by the sound of chirping birds, which has been a noticeable, and welcome, change. I don’t know how birds’ internal clocks operate. Maybe they can see some hint of the rising sun that I can not yet detect, and part of the reason I started to notice was that it was very dark and suddenly, oddly loud. At any rate, I’ve appreciated the newly soundtracked start to my runs and have started to get spring fever in a big way.
Let’s just get this out of the way…I’ve missed two days this week of my writing challenge, yesterday being another. While I’ve failed to write every day, I’m writing a heck of a lot more often than before, so that’s something. If in the end of this whole shebang I end up slightly under 30 consecutive days of writing, but I’ve still got 5-7 blogs posts here a week, it will be a huge success in still creating this as a much more active space for myself. Okay, phew. I feel so much better for having cleared the air. You? Now onto more exciting things, like mini golf and long runs.
You guys, I failed to write yesterday, which I suppose means technically speaking my 30 day writing challenge was a bust, but like anything else (especially running), I’m picking myself back up and keeping this thing rolling. This is day 12, but I missed day 11 (in case you’re keeping count too). Yesterday, well, I don’t even know. It was busy, I got home from work and was so relieved that this week was almost over and that I would be sleeping in this morning that I created my only little party. By that I mean, I excitedly curled up on the couch to stay up a little later to finish my book. I live on the edge. At any rate, taking a few minutes out of this wild night to blog completely slipped my mind.
This is day 10 of my writing challenge, and I’m pecking this out on my phone with a glass of wine, so you can judge for yourself how this day has gone. Some small frustrations, and one emergency turned avoided crisis, But hey, all is well now and I’m prepared to enjoy the rest of the evening drama free.
This is day 9 of my 30 day writing challenge.
Yesterday, I was reading a blog post about what to do when your performance stagnates, and after a laundry list of ways to shake up your training, the coach/author said something like “unless it’s time to accept that you’ve peaked and there are no more gains to be made.” Gulp. This hit me surprisingly hard. What if that is me? How will I know? Don’t worry, I don’t actually think this is me, and have concluded either way that I’m still going strong and want to try to kick it hard, so I brushed off this dismissal and went about my merry way. Going after a specific goal can be a vulnerable thing, no matter how loose or specific your goal is. It requires you to acknowledgement it in some form, even if it’s only to yourself, and then proceed as if you can achieve it.
The post did, however, make me think of all my own secret running fears, the things that tend to crop up after a bad workout or race, or also possibly when you’re tired, hungry, or having a plain old bad day. Perhaps some of them are more justified than others, but here are some things that commonly rattle around in my head.