Saturday, November 12, 2016

Game Face

I'm running my seventh marathon (the Apsire Harrisburg Marathon) in the morning.  I'm nervous. Not because I'm unprepared.  I am trained to have a great race tomorrow.  I'm nervous because four of my previous six marathons have not been ideal, even though (with the exception of one of them) I had trained decently well.  I've put a lot of thought into the reasons why I choke on race day.  And I still don't think I've quite figured it out.

Marathon #3- River Towns Marathon, May 2014 (my recap of that race here)

Marathon #4- The Philadelphia Marathon, November 2014 (recap)

Marathon #5- River Towns Marathon, my DNF, May 2015 (unfortunately the last year they held the full- recap) In this recap I never even mention my own race or that fact that I did not finish.  Instead, I layed down in the grass with ONE MILE to go and waited for my husband to come pick me up.)

Marathon #6- Wineglass Marathon, October 2015 (Apparently I never recapped this one.  But here is a short blurb I wrote about it- 4:25:50 - 10:09/pace - 99/198 in AG (F30-34) - 964/1931 Overall - Trained well for this race, but choked on race day.  Ran with Misha who could have/should have left me.  But she didn't and for that I am grateful.  I hope someday she gets the marathon she deserves.)

Rereading all these recaps I notice a common theme, I trained well, I hoped I could do it, something went wrong, and I fell to pieces.  I suppose it's okay to hope for the perfect race, but it's not okay to count on it.  It's not okay to not plan for what to do if/when things don't go right.  So I'm visualizing.  

What if I oversleep and don't have time for breakfast? - I'll grab a banana and Clif bar.
What if my Garmin quits working? - I'll ask other runners about pace and do my best to run by feel.
What if I drop my gel/water bottle? - I'll use on course nutrition or wait til I see Aaron.
What if I become nauseous? - Depending on how bad it is, I'll run right through it and puke if I have to.  If need be, I'll slow down and goal will change to making it to the finish line.
What if I get that terrible foot pain? - Again, I gotta run through it.  Acknowledge the pain, slow down if necessary, but keep moving forward.  Then think about anything and everything else.  Strike up a conversation with a stranger.  Sing a song.  Smile.
What if I fall off pace? - Remember that #1 goal is finishing this race with a smile.  Does it really matter if I hit 3:43:00 versus 3:53:00?  No.  Not really.  I might be disappointed.  But I gotta remember that my marathon has gone from bad to worse and this race has the potential to end that spiral.

It's interesting to note that my current marathon PR (3:55:29) was at Harrisburg (recap here.)  What I remember most about this race is that I was not in my own head until the last three miles.  I was having a great time, engaging with spectators and fellow runners.  I truly had fun.  So in addition to planning for all the scary what-ifs of marathon, I'm going to be proactive and try to have fun tomorrow.  Smile, wave, fist-bump, cheer on and encourage other runners.  
What a Feeling!
I still don't really know why I choke, and I'm still nervous.  But I feel slightly better having acknowledged the feelings and put a plan in place.  Wish me luck!