Spring is just around the corner (allegedly, I have yet to see any evidence of winter’s end) and I have three “races” under my belt so far this year. So far this year, I’m secretly disappointed.
I keep reminding myself that I have loads of good and bad excuses: a concussion, an injury, a polar vortex, continued low mileage, training through races, laziness.
The excuses don’t help. I’m still running the same times / slower that I was running last year and the year before. Which kind of sucks.
It is seriously just a matter of time before something like this happens to me. And I probably won’t even have a marathon to blame. Continue reading
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but my life tends to move along to a soundtrack. As a teenager I would compulsively play the same songs over and over and over. I’m not sure that was terribly healthy.
I spent 12 hours after the race that shall not be named singing this: Continue reading
Runners know delayed gratification. We aim to train for an “award” months away, an award that may be lost to demotivation, illness, injury, weather, or Murphy and his damn laws. Not everyone makes it to the start line. The training phase has many casualties.
The Marshmallow Test might be an effective way of identifying future runners. Can you wait for a second marshmallow? If not, perhaps you should rethink that 2011 race resolution.
I’m confidant that I would pass this test. Of course I don’t like marshmallows.
Title: Guns N’ Roses – Patience. 1989.
In 1969 Kubler-Ross published the 5 Stages of Grief. The stages are most commonly experienced by those suffering a loss through death, but also a personal loss such as job loss, divorce, or according to Wikipedia, “the ultimate demise of a favorite sporting team’s magical season”. There is no team I like that much. I propose one addition to that list, the running of a marathon. The Five Stages of Marathoning. As Kubler-Ross explains, most people will experience at least two of the five stages. During a typical 42.2K race I experience all the stages, some more than once. Some on repeat.
Denial — “Everything is okay. My IT Band won’t play a harrowing tune today. That stomach flu has cleared up. Even though I skipped all of my speed training sessions I’m ready“. I enjoy denial. That wonderful moment when you can convince yourself everything will be Fine even though all arrows point to Not Fine. It’s a shame denial is so temporary. And followed by crushing reality.
Anger — “Why do I have crappy genetics? Where are my fast twitch fibres?“. Those in the angry stage have a raging case of the Why Mes and the Not Fairs. They envy the “easy” run of others and are looking for someone to blame for their misfortune. This is why you need to test drive your running partners, lest you become the recipient of misguided run rage. I, for that very reason, race alone. A friend who happens to be a divorce lawyer once joked that Las Vegas Marathon has a run-through wedding around 8K so he should set up a run through divorce at 35K. A honeymoon to The Wall can get messy. I think his would be the busier of the run-throughs.
Bargaining — “Just let me make it to the finish line and I’ll give all my sneakers to Shoes4Africa“. With bargaining there is hope that the inevitable can be postponed, usually by negotiating with a higher power for a better outcome in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. You’ll never skip a run again. You will only eat organic fair trade chocolate. They say people find religion as they try to run through The Wall. They are right.
Depression — “What does it matter, I should just quit right now. It’s just a stupid race. I don’t care about my time goal. I can’t believe I paid money to do this.” As reality takes hold and the runner begins to understand the certainly of their pain and anguish hopelessness sets in. If you see someone at mile 22 sobbing on the sidelines and shaking their fist at the heavens chances are they in deep.
Acceptance — “So what if I can’t beat Oprah. She had an entourage of trainers and I’m pounding the pavement alone. It’s okay that I missed my goal time, finishing is the real reward. One more kilometre and then I ever have to do this again.“. In the final stage there is peace with accepting the inevitable. A missed time goal. A DNF. A shuffle instead of a kick across the finish. The runner understands that the struggle is almost over. The end is near. You’ll never do this again. Until you do.
Title Reference: Smokey Robinson and The Miracles – The Tracks of My Tears. From the album Going to a Go-Go. 1965.
I’m supposed to be tapering. Correction, I am tapering. It’s just not working. My chronic insomnia has worsened and I’ve been up until at least 3am and as late as 5am every night for the past three weeks. I’m freaking exhausted. I’ve aged 3 years. The final taper is supposed to make me feel rested. Strong. Ready to go. Instead I’m ready to go to bed for a sleep to rival Rip Van Winkle. My weary body aches all over. A cold virus invaded and won’t go away. It’s the mild kind of cold that doesn’t require sick leave but zaps all my energy and slows all my runs. I’m popping vitamin C and D, but the pills aren’t magically curing me. Add to that my constant infusion of desserts instead of food with actual nutrients and I’m a mess. I bought a new pair of jeans the Friday before Thanksgiving and they no longer fit. Correction, I can get them on but sport an awesome muffin-top and can’t sit down. How is it possible to outgrow a pair of pants in eight days!?! Self doubt took hold after that disastrous half marathon and hasn’t let go. The fatigue and ballooning body are further messing with my already-off-the-rails mental game. I need to find the marathon motivation movie to beat all marathon motivation movies. Someday I will master this taper business. Until then I have six days to pull myself together.
Title Reference: The Bangles – Manic Monday. From the album Different Light. 1986.