Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Courage


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.
What changed for me? What was different this time around?

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. I'm still waiting to hear about the Chicago lottery. I'll be sad if I don't get in, but I've got few on the back up plan. UPDATE: I'm in!!! #3, here I come!

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.

26.2 miles.

Will the third one be the charm?

I'm not scared. 

I'm ready. 

"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.











I'm also linking up with Diatta and Sheila for Workout Wednesday! Check out the other posts!






84 comments :

  1. Anxiety and fear have gotten the best of me a few times as well. Nice post and certainly something to think about for all of us.I keep meaning to jump into this linkup!

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  2. You are right - its totally a mental game. Kinda sounds like you're winning the game at the moment though!
    Funny, I'm also terrified of burpees, although I do love their name.

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    1. My legs are threatening me with a mutiny tho...I'm going to give them a little break after Sunday's half!

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  3. Right now I don't have the courage to ride my bike on a certain twisty, hilly, trail

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  4. love this post!! I ran scared my first marathon because it was several months after recovering from injury. For me it was more mental than anything else. I was disappointed in my finish yet happy that I finished. I'm going to tackled my next marathon with a different mindset (I hope!) so I can run the race I feel I know I can run. Great post!!

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    1. Thank you! If you only knew how scared I was to attempt marathon #2...but when I won the entry, I figured it was "meant to be"...

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  5. Great post and I think you are very courageous! I can't say that I ever wanted to DNS. I'm not nervous at the start of a race. But, the travelling and logistics of getting there on time and using the facilities, etc. is what makes me nervous.

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    1. I'm much better at the starting line now. Like you, it's all the logistics that get to me!

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  6. It is mostly mental. Good training makes us more confident. I've been PLENTY uncomfy this year. I think 9:00 can be comfy for you. Sure everything gets hard at 22 miles or so. Then you just dig down and hang.

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    1. I think I can do 9s. It will all be mental for sure! You got me here, my friend, you'll have to keep me going!

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  7. I LOVE that courage quote as well, it's my absolute favourite. Fear is something I'm still working on with my training. This session my mental training has been tough.

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    1. That mental training is way harder than the physical. For me, it's always a work in progress.

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  8. Running is completely mental! I ran my very first half marathon on pretty much zero training. The longest I'd ever run prior to then was 8 miles. Yet, I was still able to finish in one piece - and my time from that race stood as my half PR for well over a decade! It is so true when they say that you are stronger than you think.

    I absolutely believe that you can run a sub-4 marathon. There is no doubt in my mind! GO WENDY!!!

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  9. Once I figured it was all in my head I finally moved past 3.1 miles- but dang it was some work! I love the post and you are honest about the struggle- we all let our fears freak us out from time to time. Courage it is!

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    1. It took me a long time to move into the double digits! Isn't that something?

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  10. Yup. Running is such a mental game. it took me several years to get the courage to run a half marathon and I still find it daunting. Don't know if I'll ever get the courage to run a full.

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  11. Did you get chosen in the lottery? I hope so!

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    1. Yay! I'm so happy for you! I can't wait to meet you. :)

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  12. Running has never been a problem for me , but cycling is a whole new issue.

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    1. And let's talk about those clip in pedals, while we're at it...

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  13. I love this post for multiple reasons, mostly that you came back and kicked butt :) You can snag that sub 4 for sure.
    I had a half I got sick at and it was a tough day, it bugged me for a year until I ran a half the way I knew I could.
    I am always nervous before a race, even a 5K...silly but true.
    I also thought I was ready to tackle the marathon distance and ended with a stress fracture during training. I am worried about trying again, I think about it all the time...

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    1. After my first marathon, I developed a stress fracture in my foot. So for #2, I trained completely differently--much lower miles and lots of cross training. It was much more successful that way.

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  14. Every week I'm so inspired by your honesty here. haha my first half I called my best friend to come cut off my feet. Talk about poor training! But you are right, remove can't and suddenly you find ways you can!!

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    1. I'm all about keeping it real. I try to stay positive, though! But I feel like if I can do it, anyone should be able to.

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  15. I love this post!! Congrats on how far you've come this past year. People often overlook the mental aspects of training...that's often what's holding us back on really reaching our goals! And yay for getting into Chicago, can't wait to follow your training!

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    1. They say that running is 90% mental. I believe it.

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  16. I was terrified each time I lined up at the start for a 50 mile race (3) and it showed because I wasn't mentally tough enough to finish. Now I'm not sure that I have it in me to try again.

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    1. That's what happened to me after that first marathon. I never thought I'd have it in me to do it again. I'm so glad I did! But it was a lot of mental fitness as well as physical that got me there.

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  17. It's a total mental game for sure. I was terrified to run my second marathon in 2013, but ended up digging deep and knocking my race out of the park!

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    1. #3 is purely for fun. I will be spending 5+ hours with my amazing sister. That's going to be enough for me!!! <3

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  18. I had to back out of a half due to injury. As much as I hated not being able to even start the race, it took a lot of courage for me to actually decide NOT to do it. I wanted to push myself despite the injury, but I knew it wouldn't be a good idea. Now I'm recovered and running stronger than ever. And.... I just signed up for the Dopey Challenge! EEK!!! I've never done back-to-back races, let alone 4 in a row!

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    1. I think sometimes it's harder to back away than to try to run it injured! Good luck with the Dopey challenge! One of my friends did it a few years ago, to celebrate her 50th birthday!

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  19. I have anxiety issues so sometimes my own mind is my biggest enemy. I work hard on trying to anticipate all outcomes and telling myself that I can handle anything that comes my way. Its tough though!!!

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  20. Love this post as courage is my power word for 2015! Congrats on getting into Chicago.

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  21. This is a phenomenal post. My fears and anxiety usually get the better of me at the starting line. I've never wanted to DNS, but I have wanted it to be over. You are going to be incredible.

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    1. Oh, don't get me wrong, I have trouble enjoying the race...I want to be done...LOL

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  22. You are awesome! Overcoming fears and living courageously is hard for me. I don't LIKE to push myself. (Does anyone?) You have come along way and it looks like you are heading in an amzing direction! Congrats!

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    1. I don't have a problem pushing myself. But it's hard to push through that anxiety. That is a work in progress.

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  23. Loved this post! Congrats on getting into the lottery!

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  24. YOU CAN DO IT, WENDY!! WOO HOO! I'm so excited for you!! You train so diligently; you're going to have to trust your training and your coach, (who has definitely proven herself!) and let your body do what it's ready to do!! YAY!!

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    1. Fingers and toes crossed that this one brings me success!

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  25. I think the Cowardly Lion would run a Marathon, however, I don't think that he would courage to run a race with a bunch a witches. #wowlinkup

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    1. Maybe he'd run from the witches? Incentive to run faster?

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  26. Congrats on getting in!!!! So excited to follow your training!
    Mental training is always a work in progress for me.

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  27. I admire your courage!! I'm learning to get comfortable with my fear of yoga inversions....it's a slow process, haha.

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    1. I love inversions. Most of them anyways. A few of them, I"m afraid I'm going to fall on my face.

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  28. I think I deal with anxiety before every race! Which is why I can't sleep the night before. Thoughts about getting there late, what happens if one of my old injuries pops out, what if I mess up my pacing etc... they have taken over before. CrossFit actually is something that helps me get through this... having to DNF a wod in CrossFit is very public. And that sort of awareness has helped me learn to push through mentally. And a sub 4 marathon sounds like an awesome goal!

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    1. I'm so much better than I used to be. Probably because I've done so many races. And once I line up, all that anxiety just goes away!

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  29. I also got into chicago! It will be my first time there so I would love to see a post on tips and advice for chicago first timers ;) I totally feel ya on the feeling embarassed about your time. My first marathon is exactly like it. I majorly bonked, puked at the finish line and finished miserably. People also told me to be proud that I did it but I was still embarassed about my time. Thankfully the second time was much better (felt good the whole way), and I'm hoping now for my 3rd marathon at chicago to go under 4:30...but we'll see :)

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    1. I'm so excited to hear that you'll be here in October! We have to meet up. This is my third time, so if you have questions, I'm your gal.

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  30. Trust and fear...all things that I have been thinking about recently....being prepared physically and maybe more importantly mentally!

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    1. Much bigger obstacles than anything physical, right?

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  31. I don't think I've ever been scared lining up for a race, I try to not put that much pressure on myself, but it isn't easy. I have big goals as well and I'm definitely scared of how I will achieve them. It's not going to be easy. But I figure, i've given birth to two kids, anything is possible, right? You are going to kill Chicago. So excited for you!

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    1. I have that one big goal left for the year. Can I do it? My coach says yes. So I have to believe it.

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  32. I hardly ever do things I'm afraid of. Usually the things I'm afraid of also fall in line with things I don't like. So it works out well for me lol
    Yay you for facing your fears though :D

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    1. My life would be very small if I didn't face my fears--I"m anxiety girl, after all!

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  33. I have no doubt that you are going to have a fantastic race. Face those fears and conquer them!!! You've got this! <3

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  34. Sorry that I'm late to the party but YAY for getting into Chicago--marathoning, throwing your hat into the mix--that takes courage. Going after what you want, it takes courage. Balancing life (which I know isn't easy, ever or at the moment) with the right amount of risk--courage. You, my friend, have the right stuff. And we better meet, dammit! Which takes courage in and of itself.... lol

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  35. I think being fearful when running a big race is normal, as long as it isn't extreme! I always get a bit of anxiety at the start line of a race, but after about 5 minutes in, I start to settle down and run my race. I agree it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and do something challenging. Goodluck on your marathon!

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  36. Oh great post! FEAR ruins joy... it is something that I struggle with. Fear of failing. Fear of succeeding. I am trying to not compare... but FEAR usually wins.

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  37. Fantastic post! I let fear and anxiety get in my way far too often!!

    Jen@Jpabstfitness.com

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  38. Great post! Alright..... THAT'S IT!! I'm registering for my FIRST MARATHON! Oh lord. :)

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  39. Congrats on getting into the marathon! Three of my MRTT friends got into it as well! After reading your post I started daydreaming about running Chicago in 2016..... Or perhaps the 2016 spring half.....

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. Yes please! I'd love for you to come to Chicago! Altho I'm dreaming about Big Sur next spring...but isn't that a subject for next Weds post?

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  40. What am I afraid of? Oooh chile that is a LOADED question and we don't have all day or all year for me to share all that stirs doubt in me BUT I will say that I am going forward in spite of! God told me to move and I am moving. Not fast...every step is measured but I am going forward because life is short and I do not want a life of regrets. NOW back on this beer thing - I stopped drinking it after I had my son but do they really have crappy beer at the end of races? :-) #wowlinkup

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    1. That's what we all need to do! Keep moving forward in spite of. Stealing that! Love it!

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  41. Great post! I've bonked hardcore about halfway through my last two half marathons. I'm sure it was due to mental weakness as much as physical. I've made a vow to myself that as soon as I get this hip back under control and can start running again, I'm going to take a very different approach to training.

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    1. Last year, I made a huge effort to work on mental fitness. It has really paid off. I've still got a lot of work to do, tho.

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