Do you think the Cowardly Lion could have run a marathon? After all, he overcame all kinds of fears and obstacles throughout The Wizard of Oz. And at the end, he was awarded a medal for his bravery. Kind of similar to training for and running a marathon. What changed for him? What made him realize that he wasn't a coward, but that he was brave? When he wanted to run from the Witch, what made him stay and help Dorothy?
Are you brave? Brave enough to tackle a race? Any distance.
Strong enough not to bail at the starting line?
It takes courage to line up to run a race.
You have to trust that you trained well. Trust that you are prepared to go the distance.
But there's so much more to running a race than physical preparation.
I've written a lot about this. Last year when this cowardly lion trained for my second Chicago marathon, my so-called redemption run, I did as much mental training as I did physical training. My first attempt at Chicago was a disaster. I did the work, put in the miles, but as usual, my anxiousness and fears brought me down. I was not mentally prepared to run that race, and the results showed. After I finished, people kept telling me I should be proud that I ran a marathon. It was an accomplishment, sure. But it wasn't the race I knew I had in me. I was ashamed of my finish time, of the fact that I fell apart. I made excuses, blaming the heat, but I knew in my heart that it was all me. I learned a lot about myself during that race, but I was so scarred by my experience and my inability to run strong that it took me 3 years to get up the courage to face this distance again. When I had the opportunity to run it again last year by winning a free entry, I knew it was meant to be. But I also realized I had a lot of work to do, both physically and mentally. I wasn't going to have another bad race. No how, no way. Not happening.
|It should say "start again". I absolutely love this quote.|
Oh to be sure, my training was different. I followed a training plan designed by my coach Becky. Becky isn't a running coach. She's a CrossFit coach. She's also really smart, and she designed a plan that would make me stronger, both physically and mentally. There was running, sure. But there was also speedwork, which I hadn't done before, and there was CrossFit 1-2 times/week. Prior to this, we had been doing a variety of things to strengthen my glutes, hips, and hamstrings. Now our training was much more focused on one thing: getting me across the finish line feeling good enough to have a beer. Ha!
You know that me having a beer really isn't about the beer, right? That beer represents a strong race, feeling good at the finish, and running a race I can be proud of. Most races serve crappy beer--I'm not sure you can even call it beer, really--at the finish. Chicago serves Goose Island 312 at the finish line. This is a good one, one of my favorites, and I wanted to savor it.
Remember my post on my speedwork, a few weeks ago? I posted a quote about having to run uncomfortable to run faster. Of course, I still can't find the exact quote. This one by Jillian Michaels will have to do. What I can tell you is that pushing through hard workouts, like my speedwork and the workouts I do with Becky, the ones that make me want to quit...those are the workouts that count the most. This training was harder than anything I've ever done. But I was so determined to make this race a success that quitting wasn't an option.
Sure, I put in the miles. That was actually the easiest part of my training. The CrossFit intervals and speedwork were tough. But the hardest work is the most rewarding work. Having the courage to push through those workouts, to not quit...that's what made me mentally tougher.
I finished that race strong and happy. I was thrilled with my finish time and got to enjoy my beer! Even after that great marathon, I still didn't get it--I didn't realize the progress I had made, mentally. The race that showed me how far I've come was my 10 miler last week. I went out way too fast, and by the time I realized it, I was in too deep. By mile 3, I was in trouble. I felt like I was going to throw up. And I'm not a puker. The old me would have quit. Those voices inside my head? Do you ever hear them? The ones that tell you can't do this, that this sucks, that you may as well give up? Those voices? The ones I heard at mile 18 of my first marathon? When I called my husband, crying, to pick me up? (Yes, that really happened.) Anyways, this time I shut those voices down. I slowed my pace and monitored my breathing. Told myself that I needed to get it together. Told myself that I wasn't quitting, no matter what. The negative voices kept coming back. I kept tuning them out and focused on my music. Motivational lyrics, courtesy of Eminem. By mile 4, I felt well enough to start sipping on my Tailwind. And at mile 5, I started hitting my pace. Kept sipping on my Tailwind. And finished strong with a 4 minute PR.
I felt so bad, I didn't know what was going to happen if I kept going. But I figured I may as well find out. Thank God I didn't quit! What a great race! There was good beer at that one too, Lagunitas IPA. I was well aware that it was waiting for me, and that was one more incentive to keep moving forward.
Becky and I talked about this race at our session this week. She told me how proud she was and that she was amazed at the difference, both physically and mentally, that she has seen in me over the past year. Self doubt? Minimized. That word "can't"? Struck from my vocabulary. Of course, during marathon training, she was threatening me with burpees every time I said I can't...I am afraid of burpees...
This year, it isn't a matter of if I run another marathon, it's which one.
My goal? Because of course I have one. Sub-4. That means I'm going to have to run about 9 mins/mile for the entire race. I"m going to have to push hard and run uncomfortable.
Will the third one be the charm?
I'm not scared.
|"Read what my medal says. It says Courage. Ain't it the truth? Ain't it the truth?" from The Wizard of Oz|
What are you afraid of? Have you ever been scared lining up to run a race? Wanted to DNS?How do you overcome your fears?
I'm linking up with DebRuns and her Wednesday Word Link Up. I'm really liking this link up! Head on over and see everyone else's take on Courage.