It’s no secret that things haven’t gone as smoothly this training cycle as I would have liked. But rather than getting angry at my body and blaming it for not being able to hold up to the rigors of a tough running schedule, I’ve accepted responsibility for a combination of faulty mechanics and inattention to the finer points of injury prevention.
As such, my original goal time of 3:50 — which seemed well within reach based on my pacing prior to injury — is pretty much a pipe dream at this point. After taking a month off from running to heal my medial tibial stress response (aka almost-a-stress-fracture), I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’ve got to reset my race-day expectations.
Frankly, I’m not sure exactly what will happen between when the gun goes of and when I (hopefully) cross the finish line, which both excites and terrifies me. Why? Well, a lot can happen over 26.2 miles.
But after giving it some thought, I’ve made the following goals for Sunday’s race to keep myself motivated and moving forward:
1. Good Goal: Cross the finish line, healthy and injury-free, regardless of time
2. Better Goal: Finish somewhere between four and five hours, depending on how the run/walk ratios go
3. Best Goal: Finish with a new personal record (anything under 4:07:46). Yeah right, but a girl can dream?!
Although my run coach and I have been discussing strategy this past week, I’m still digesting his suggestion for a 10 run/1 walk ratio. There’s a delicate balance between taking it slow and taking it too slow, so I’m trying to figure out the right mix of pacing and duration of runs to get me to the finish line as quickly as possible and in one piece.
Overall, though, I think I’m going to treat it like an ultra — over-prepare and find a steady pace so I can finish strong. My plan is to see how my final runs go today and Friday before finalizing the run increments, which I’ll probably end up tweaking during the race based on how my legs and lungs are holding up.
Am I bummed about not being able to “race” this race? YES. But there comes a point where you have to not only deal with the reality of a situation, but also be appreciative of what you can do instead of what you can’t. Plus, three things have really changed my perspective on this race in the past few weeks.
First, one of Hubby’s and my most beloved friends passed away late last month. To describe him as the successful businessman, doting husband and loving father he was just doesn’t do him justice, however; he was one of those one-in-a-million people who made an impact on the life of everyone with whom he crossed paths.
So I’m dedicating this race to Burt Baptiste. And to his beautiful family — his wife, Danielle, and their two daughters, Milla and Emme. Their strength, poise and positive attitudes in the midst of tragedy have inspired so many of us, and I hope that I can have some small part in helping to make sure that his memory is never forgotten. #RIPBB
Second, one of my running heroes, Kara Goucher, wrote a terrific blog post on handling setbacks with grace, patience and perseverance. The entire piece hit home with me (well, aside from the whole ‘professional athlete’ part), but one line in particular struck me as she was describing her injuries, disappointments and what has been a long road on her return to racing:
“Instead of stressing about how far behind we are, we need to focus on the progress we are making and continue to make….I may not be where I want to be, but I am so grateful to be here at all.”
With a laser focus on planning, training and prepping for a goal race of the season, it’s so easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. But even with our setbacks, our injuries, our derailed training plans, it’s important to keep things in perspective and find joy in the journey because you never know exactly where it’ll lead — or what you’ll learn in the process.
Third, my friend Doris Steere has unknowingly served as inspiration by example while she’s been on her own journey this season. After dealing with similar calf issues eight weeks out from her goal race, she proceeded to break a rib three weeks out. But rather than give up, she hit it hard with rehab work and ended up at the starting line of Augusta 70.3, saying:
“I make no promises for race day except to try and do my best with the hand I’ve been dealt….without quality training sessions to look back on, I’ve got to rely on muscle memory, experience, determination and pure grit.”
And she did just that, managing to nab a new PR despite a blown-out tire, poor road conditions and an aggravated rib on race day. Now, if that isn’t motivation enough to keep on going when the going gets tough, I don’t know what is.
So, final thoughts going into the race this weekend? Getting to the start line is victory enough this time, and even though I’m not sure exactly what shape I’ll be in when I get there or how the race will go, I do know the way in which I want to finish.
My week 18 recap will go up Friday, and I’ll be posting race updates on social media this weekend before the official recap goes up Monday. Thanks, again, for following along…here goes nothing!