Facing fears

We all go into our races with some sort of goal.  Whether it is just to finish, to set a personal best, or to qualify for a prestigious event, endurance athletes seem to be hardwired for goal seeking.  We train for the goal, write it down, tell our friends or sometimes, just keep it to our selves.  But it’s there in our head, and usually at the forefront of our mind on race day.

Then there comes a point in the race where the we will question our ability to hit that goal.  I’m sure it happens to you, just as it happened to me at the Philadelphia marathon last week.  I knew I had the training for a personal best, and had trained with a goal time in mind.  When the weather began to cooperate, I began to really believe I could set a PR and possibly a stretch goal 5 minutes faster.  As the race progressed I focused on each mile, tried to stay loose and smooth, and maintain my fueling and hydration strategy.

Then around the 20 mile mark, I hit the point where fear took over.  I knew that I was not going to be able to hit my stretch goal, and a PR would require me to maintain a pretty aggressive pace.  I was hurting, but I was moving, yet the fear of having to hurt that much, or even more through the end of the race was daunting.

Facing our fears is a big part of why we all do these events.  We know that at some point that we will hurt and have to push through that discomfort to reach our goal.  Doing so is about facing the fear of the pain, and pushing back.

The fear is always much bigger than the reality.  You know it when you sign up for the race, but it seems to grow with each passing mile until you face it and push through it.  It doesn’t take a huge mental effort, tribal scream or some personal mantra to overcome the fear, (though these can help).  Sometimes it’s simply recognizing the fear, acknowledging it and bringing it along for the ride.

So at mile 20, the fear rose up and asked me a question.  It told me that there was no way I could reach my stretch goal, so what was the point of pushing on in pain.  I could give up, jog/walk the last 10k and finish, or I could keep my pace, pick up the last 5k and get a PR.

The fear lies to us and steals our dreams.  It’s up to us to pull back the curtain and reveal it’s insignificance.

I decided to own the fear, and the pain.  I decided it wasn’t “all that” and I wanted the PR more than I wanted to slow down.   And as I made that decision, I knew that that hurt wasn’t going to get worse, that striding out a bit and picking up the pace was going to get me to the finish faster, the fear began to shrink and the pain wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the fear had made it out to be.

I ended the race completely spent, but very happy with an 8 min PR.  And the fear was left standing along Boathouse row, dropped like a sack of rocks.

Posted in run

Yippee

Looks like the blog is staying clean, and the Garmin connect links are working again.

I’m not really sure where today’s run came from.  I was feeling pretty beat up after yesterdays weight set and 5k swim, and a serious lack of sleep last night.  Grabbed some coffee around 3:00pm and that seemed to help.  I finally logged off the work computer and headed out the door at 5:20 for my run.  The workout called for an hour, with intervals, but I didn’t want to push it too far hard.  I chose to do a my standard 5k loop instead, and just let the run happen.  After a bit of a cludgy start, faffing about with HRM strap and wonky HR readings, I was cruising pretty effortlessly through miles 2-3, and ended up with comfortable negative splits (IF = .987).

I think I’m going to be just about ready for some fresh FTP and pace testing next week!

Dusting off the cobwebs

The MAFW picnic rides were cancelled today due to rain.  I was really looking forward to my first brick workout in a long, long time and was pretty disappointed when the rides were cancelled.  On the way home I suddenly realized that Ironman Wisconsin was going on today, so I decided to do an “indoor brick” on the CompuTrainer and the treadmill.  When I pulled the tri bike off the hooks in the basement I noticed that it still has the IMWI and Tri-Bike Transport stickers on the frame, both tires were completely flat and the bike was covered in a thick layer of dust.  I don’t think I’ve been on that bike since the race.  So I pumped up the tires, and loaded up the IMWI course on the CompuTrainer.  I also noticed that the workout room had cobwebs hanging from the corners and most of the light fixtures.  I supposed that was fitting as my workout room and my body appear to be in the same shape.

I rode for an hour at a nice aerobic pace, then hopped on the treadmill for a planned 20 min run.  After about 13 minutes the achilles started to ached so I cut the run short (15 min).  It’s a long way from being Iron Fit, but I’ve dusted off the cobwebs, literally and figuratively.

The lost year

Fitness wise, I’ve lost an entire year.  I made some attempt to train and race through the 1/2 marathon in April, but after that I didn’t do much at all.  This was mostly due to total mental block, but increased work stress, heavy school loads and a slow-to-heal-injury played into the mix.

Now that vacation is over, and I’m healing up fast I’m considering signing up for the 1/2 marathon in Philadelphia.  I’ve got a copy of Hal Higdon’s training plans and it looks do-able, though possibly a bit of a stretch considering my current lack of fitness.  I’m meeting with the doctor tomorrow for a follow up from my PRP 6 weeks ago.  If it looks like my achilles is healing up well, then I’m going to go for the November race.

Spring is just around the corner

I finally decided that I needed to kick my own ass out of my funk.  The weather forecast all week called for a spectacular day for Sunday, so that became my target.  If I could just make it through to Sunday I’d be ok.

So this morning I slept in a bit, ate a big healthy breakfast, and then got out for a nice & easy bike & run.  For some reason I wanted to ride the dirt roads through the horse farms of Bedminster, which means I needed to swap the slicks for knobbies on the Surly.  Normally that’s a big PITA, but this morning I was in the flow and everything went smoothly.

I made it up and over Schley Mtn easy enough, and when I came across the River Rd. Park bridges, I came across this lovely sight:

A sign of springThere was a small field of these flowers poking through the underbrush in a sunny patch along the bike path.  That one image made me smile through the rest of the ride.

I got home with a bit over 21 miles, switched to my VFF’s and headed out for a quick brick run.  This was the 1st time I’ve been outside in the VFFs so I kept the run short.  They felt pretty good on the sidewalk, but really GREAT on the mushy grass.  I could really feel my toes trying to paw into the turf.  My run HR was a bit higher than normal, but that was to be expected after the long time off.

A good week

23 miles running, with some fartleks and hill work tossed in, plus three P90X workouts (Chest/Back, Plyo, Arms). Next week I’ll be stepping up to big-boy work: 31 miles running w/more fartleks and more hills, 5 P90Xworkouts (Chest/Back, Plyo, Arms, Kenpo, Back/Legs). I’m anticipating a very sore and tired Greg this time next week.

I’m also hoping that my shock/fork will come back from Push Industries soon. Conditions were excellent this week for winter MTB. I don’t want to pass up more great opportunities for off-road, off-season riding.

School started back up yesterday. Two management classes this semester. Leadership in Technical Teams, and Strategic Planning. Both instructors are very engaging and are leaders in their field, the texts look pretty good and our classes are now split up into two smaller groups. Our team was adjusted a bit. There are three original team members and one new Spring 2010 student joined our group. So now we have two women and two men in our group, and appears to be a solid group.

When the run intersects the bike…

Today’s long run was 2:45 Z1-Z2. I knew that I’d need to run 16-17 miles, so I headed out to do a “lake loop”. This route used to be a favorite 60 min bike ride. I’ve done this loop enough to know exactly where I need to be at any point on the bike. I’ve never, ever done any part of it on the run, but as I chugged along, I started to figure it out.

“I’ll get to Far Hills in :45”
“I’ve got to get to the top of the hill on Willow by the halfway”
“I need to be make the turn onto Liberty Corner Rd by 2:00”

I hit some, but not all of the time marks. Still it ended up as a GREAT run. Scenic, low traffic and challenging. Everything one wants in an early spring run. Plus, corned beef dinner cooking when I got home. BONUS!

Lovin’ the long run

It may take me a while to get motivated and get out the door, but once I start moving, I remember how much I really enjoy the long run. The pace is easier than most of my runs, and it gives me time to think and reflect on the week. After the first 15 or 20 minutes, I’m in a groove with the tunes (I always keep my iPod on ‘shuffle mode’), and I can feel my head starting to clear out. At times (like today) the feeling is quite a bit like popping to the surface of a very deep lake. My mood is high, my head clear and I’m cruising along with almost no effort.

Today’s long run was a bit of a “little Billy” run. I wasn’t planning on the route I took, and in fact had intended to go in a different direction. But after the first 30 minutes along a familiar route, I decided to make some changes. I ran down Evergreen into Bernardsville, then headed straight into Little Italy, down Bernards ave and up Liberty onto Pill Hill. After the long downhill, I turned UP Meeker Rd, and finished that brutal climb. Then out to Annin Rd, to Whitenack, and back through Cantebury. If I hadn’t made a wrong turn and had to backtrack a bit, it would have been a PERFECT 1:45 run. As it was, I came in at 1:50:51 and 11.18 miles.