Monday, November 5, 2012

So Many Thoughts

I had a lot of things on my mind this morning during my run. Here’s a snapshot of what goes on in my mind when I run. Or at least what is going on in my mind while I run just six days before the half marathon.
My injury- I am still not back to 100%. My five mile run on Saturday and my 3 mile run this morning both weren’t great. They weren’t bad either. They were just ok. I am able to run. I am just still feeling some residual soreness. The doctor says that this injury is not caused from running and that running won’t affect my recovery time but it doesn’t make running feel good. This weird pain (pain really isn’t the right word to describe it, maybe tightness or restriction- ugh I don’t know, nothing accurately describes this weirdness) in my hip/thigh/pelvis area is still there. It’s not bad and it isn’t preventing me from running but just the fact that I can feel it when I run freaks me out. I think it just makes me nervous that I am going to run up a hill during the half and have it seize up like it has twice already. But I have been continually reminding myself that when I take it slowly and run at an easy pace I am ok. I just can’t push myself too hard.
The half marathon-as you all know my half marathon is this Sunday, 11/11. I am beyond excited for it. I am now in week 17 of training which is really crazy when I think back on it. I can’t believe I even decided to do this. It was kind of a whim. When we got the news that Paul was picked up for the Navy and that he would be going away to OCS I decided to run the half. I thought the training would help me keep focused on something while he was gone. It would provide me a healthy outlet and distraction and help me to work towards a goal I never thought possible. Now as I sit here just 6 days before the half I have some really strong thoughts that keep swimming through my mind.
I am not racing against you
I am not racing against the clock
I am not racing against myself
I am not racing- period, end of sentence
I am just a girl on a mission. A mission to prove to herself that she can achieve any goal, no matter how big or small, by setting a plan, dedicating time/energy/resources to it, and staying focused. My only goal is to finish that half marathon happy. I want to go out there and have fun. I want to run each mile without concern about my pace, the time elapsed or how I am doing compared to other people I know. I just want to listen to some good music, smile at the other runners and give them words of encouragement when I can and enjoy the crowds. I want to finish with a huge (non-forced) smile on my face, although more than likely I will finish crying tears of joy, and I want to look back on that race as one of the best days of my life.
I don’t care that you are faster than me. I don’t care that my time will be ‘slow’ or that there will be marathoners finishing at the same time I do. On Sunday, I vow to only care about me and the beauty of running for fun.
Expectations- BUT, in order to do this I need to set my expectations aside. I never set a time goal for the half and I still haven’t. However, when I registered the form did ask for an estimated completion time. Based off some website’s half marathon time calculator thing where I put in my 5K pace and it tells me what I should expect for a half marathon I put down 2:30. That is not a realistic goal for me though. That’s an 11:27 min/mile pace. More than likely I will be above a 12 min/mile pace, which I am 100% ok with. But even thinking that I might be able to run at a 12 min/mile pace is still putting ideas in my head. Maybe I can come in at 2:45. Maybe less. Is that possible? Ahhhhh (that’s me screaming) enough already! It doesn’t matter. Just run, Dacia. That’s all that matters. 2:30, 2:45, 3:45- they are just numbers. They mean nothing. Crossing the finish line is the only thing that holds any real significance. And even so I would still say that just attempting to do this is what matters most.
The plan- not to be confused with my expectations or goals. Even though I keep reiterating how I just want to focus on the run and not the time I still need a plan. A way to make this half marathon enjoyable and achievable. So here it is. It’s quite simple.
Mile 1- Run the first mile slowly.  I know this will be difficult trying not to get swept up in the crowd but my goal is to start off slow. Ease into it. Let my body warm up and the jitters subside. Be comfortable. This might be the slowest mile I run.
Mile 2- step it up a bit. Keep it easy but work towards finding my rhythm. Normally I can fall into my groove during mile 2. The pace I settle into is usually the pace I will keep for the duration of my long runs.
Miles 3-9: maintain easy comfortable pace. Stay in my rhythm and focus on the crowds, the music and the people around me. Really enjoy the race.
Miles 10-13: slowly start to increase my pace. Just a little bit faster with each mile. The strategy I am sticking to is running a fast 5K after a slow 10 mile warm-up run. BUT if come mile 10, 11 or 12 I just can’t push harder then I won’t.  I will only go as fast as I can comfortably maintain.
The last tenth- 13-13.1: SPRINT!!! The finish is uphill and around a bend. Quite evil in my opinion. But I do plan on sprinting across that finish line come hell or high water.
My running- what I hope for as a runner is to have endurance like Forrest Gump (or Scott Jurek, if you would prefer a comparison to an actual person) but I am not too concerned with speed. Yes, I would like to progress as a runner and maybe shave a minute or two off my mile times but ultimately I just want to be able to run, preferably for increasingly longer distances. As my training continues I will still do intervals and hills and tempo runs to help me both with speed and endurance. But I know that I will only want to continue running as long as it is still fun for me. I feel that this half marathon will be great and it will propel me forward into my training for the duathlon (Dec 8), my next half marathon (Jan 13- birthday present to myself) and the Austin marathon (Feb 17) which is why I continually remind myself of the importance of enjoying this half marathon, not racing it.
I don’t want to cross the finish line puking, or in pain, or injured, or miserable.
I don’t want to cross the finish line cursing myself, or others, or running.
I want to cross that finish line happy, proud, full of confidence and love. Ready to take on the next adventure.  And more than likely ready for a beer or four.
"I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart." ~Mike Fanelli