Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It Starts Today!

It should have started this morning. In a way it did. It was the first day back at work after a long weekend (and another slow, sweaty, long run). It was a fight to get up at 5:00-ish AM. Temps were in the 80s before sunup. My knee was a bit tweaked so even walking was interesting to say the least. Just getting out and running was quite the accomplishment so doing 2x2000 sub-8 intervals is pretty damn good even if the plan was for 3x2000.

It wasn't good enough though.

So today is the day I start training for my race. That may sound odd considering I have less than 4 weeks left and have already been training for 15. I have been training to run a half marathon. I have been training to be faster than my full marathon and 15k (my only "long" race benchmarks). I have been training to break 2:00 - to become a "real" runner by my own artificial standard. I have NOT been training to RACE for 13.1 miles.

As most recreational runners know, only a few elite athletes race to win - especially in big races. Everyone else races themselves. Even if they are racing a friend/rival or pacing someone or just trying to finish, they are racing their own demons - the things that drove them to run in the first place or new lurkers discovered only after becoming a runner. For me it is the latter - I know I do not run as hard as I can. I'm hot, I'm tired, I'm thirsty. These are facts. These are things I cannot change. But there is one thing that is 100% in my control and that is how hard I try. I have wanted to try harder and to run faster, but it was easier to make excuses. The excuses end today.

Today is the day I start training my mind. I don't want to run 13.1 in 1:59:59. I sure as HELL don't want to run it in 2:00:01! Here is my goal:


For those keeping score at home, that is an 8:59 pace. It may not seem like much, but that is 10 sec/mi faster than 2:00:00. Most importantly, that is more than a full minute per mile faster than my marathon pace from earlier this year and 59.5 seconds per mile faster than my 15k from just under a year ago. That is a BIG difference. That is a gargantuan difference!

Anyone who has run a long race (or just a long run) with any sort of accurate timing knows that your pace varies even if only slightly. To average 8:59, you have to run a mile under for every mile you run over, second-for-second. That means, I will very likely need to be uncomfortable for several miles. I can't simply just run easy for 13.1 and then say, "Well, I finished a half marathon." when I am done.

So it starts today! Today is the day that I start training my mind for my race. Today is the day I stop letting excuses and weakness enter my mind and train it to fight through the pain and the tired legs and burning lungs. The picture I am building in my mind is me finishing my race with nothing left. I know I am strong enough, fast enough, have put in enough miles, done enough intervals, trained through the hottest part of the summer. I will not jog, I will not just run, I will not just finish, I will RACE for 13.1 miles and when I am done I will have won.