In the lead up to Sunday's race, I’ve had a chance to reflect on what makes for a strong race day performance. As some of you know, I ran the Toronto Goodlife Marathon at the end of April with a time of 4:34. I trained all winter for what I thought was going to be a PB race (sub 3:59). I was devastated. I had stomach issues around 30km, and if it wasn’t for my Mom who was also running that day, I likely would have DNF’d. My Mom saw me around 33km and
ran walked shuffled with me to the finish. My fiancé and my dad were also there, traipsing around Toronto to cheer me on (the picture below is when I saw them at kilometre 17; feeling great). I cannot emphasize enough how lucky I am to have such a supportive family.
It took me about a day to get over the race. Then I was determined to redeem myself. I knew that in order to go into my fall training cycle with the right mindset, I needed concrete proof that there was a glimmer of speed in these legs of mine. I ended up registering for a small local race, Emilie’s Run, in June. Without a ton of training (I took some time off after the marathon), I managed to finish that in 1:48 and place second female overall. I remember going into the race feeling relaxed. I didn’t have any expectations, other than I wanted to finish feeling STRONG. I did just that.
Ever since the 2013 Ottawa Marathon, I’ve had mediocre race day experiences, at best. I was really finding my stride in 2013; I managed to take more than 15 minutes off my half marathon PB and more than 30 mins off my marathon. But after, what I thought was a sub-par performance at the Ottawa Marathon (4:02), I’ve struggled to grasp another PB. I reflect on that now and laugh. I kicked butt in that race. A year earlier I ran the Paris Marathon in 4:36. I needed to give myself a break.
They say that once you get faster it’s harder to shave time off. Recognizing that, I still feel that I am READY for a PB. I’ve put in the work. I am a FIRM believer that you can’t be upset with the results you don’t get with the work you didn’t do. Simply put, THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS. I’m also not afraid of the half marathon distance. I KNOW I can do this. What I need to prepare for, is the hurt that will come around km 18. I will want to quit. I will repeat: THE BRICK WALLS ARE THERE FOR A REASON. I will also remind myself that this race is simply the opening act for the marathon in November.
With this weekend quickly approaching, I am working through what my race day goals are. It’s good to have three goals. The range is important because it prevents you from checking-out of the race midway if things don't go exactly. as. planned. That’s historically been my problem. I get too committed to a *certain* number. I've learned that *all or nothing* is not a productive race strategy, for me at least. This Sunday, I’m going to fight like heck to STAY IN IT for my A Goal (1:40), but I will still be thrilled if I hit my B Goal (sub 1:43 PR). If I’m any slower than that, my C Goal would be to finish smiling and ENJOY the race. I will remind myself that this is what I love to do.
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure...than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.