Monday, April 22, 2013

The Mental Game

With less than a week to go until Eugene the Sequel, I can’t help but think about Race Day. I’m currently feeling a whole slew of emotions, and turning another year older isn’t helping that fact. (Yes, my birthday and Race Day are within a week of each other.)

I’m nervous because I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and shooting for such a lofty goal scares the shit out of me. Running 26.2 miles in 3:05 just seems hella fast. Yes, I know it’s only six minutes faster than my Chicago time, but entering “Club BQ” puts one in this different class of runners. Boston may have recently become synonymous with “tragedy” (no, we’re not discussing that topic right now, because the news and watching coverage for two days after the event depressed me to the point where I can’t handle following the situation), but to me, it still symbolizes “prestige,” “speed,” and “elite.” And the pedestal I’ve placed it on has made this goal seem so formidable.

What makes me even more nervous is that I feel like I have a real shot at it this time around, and I’m afraid of blowing it. During this training cycle, I’ve had a 15K and a half-marathon PR, and have logged more miles (and faster miles) than ever before. I’ve felt more support and encouragement during this training cycle than ever before (thank you, Twitter and dailymile). And while all of that excites/motivates me, I’m also worried that I’ll get overexcited on Race Day, start out way too quickly, and then burn out in the second half. (This is one of my goats.)

I’ve also put more emphasis on diet during this training cycle. I’ve tried to clean up my diet by eating more whole (i.e., plant-based) foods and drinking less alcohol. And up until a few weeks ago, I’d like to think that I did a fairly good job of that. Then, I had one of my best friends from NYC visit me, which involved drunch, wine tasting, and enough sugary treats to make us call her visit “Diabetes Weekend”.

Drunch. Regular mimosa for her, grapefruit mimosa for me.

Wine and cheese party at home. (This may or may not have been a daily event for us.)

Moonstruck desserts. (Hey, Moonstruck's a Portland staple. Gotta check it out while visiting!)

Columbia Gorge Wine Tasting event. 
After that, I fled to SoCal to visit friends and family, which, so far, has involved drunches, wine tasting, and loads of dairy and sugar. (We seem to use alcohol and sugar to bond.) Long story short, I’m just worried that these last few weeks of poor food choices have screwed me over.

I’m freaked out, and when I get freaked out, I feel ready to jump out of my skin. Such urges make me want to run, which would be good and well if I weren’t in the midst of tapering. It’s times like these I wish I had another means to deal with my emotions. (Writing can be effective, except I’m barely making any sense to me, so I can’t imagine that I’m making sense to anyone else.)

I need to stop psyching myself out. I’m excited to race because I feel like this is the culmination of 16 weeks of hard work. I’m especially excited because I’ll have some incredible friends running and watching. And while it makes me incredibly nervous, the goal of qualifying for Boston fires me up. Plus, the weather forecast currently looks great (knock on wood).

What I’m realizing is that taper mode is when the training focus shifts (or should shift) from the physical aspects of racing to the mental aspects. At this point, I’ve done everything that I can do to get ready for this marathon. As we’ve established, I’m happy with how my training has gone. But now, I need to calm myself down so I don’t let my nerves get the best of me. For that, I have a few sayings:

-“Keep calm and rock the f*$& out.” (Thank you, Erin for that one.)
-“You got this.” (I’ve read that using “you” in a mantra is more effective than using “I” because it makes you feel like someone’s alongside you providing support.)
-“Let’s make the most of tonight, like we’re gonna die young.” (Thank you, Ke$ha. Your songs may be ridiculous, but they are catchy, and this one helped get me to a sub-1:30 half-marathon.) 


  1. AP-

    Just remember to keep control of your pace during the marathon. That's the final place that mental preparation will ensure a good race -- proper pacing in the first 10K and first half of the marathon. Every second too fast in the first half will mean two seconds too slow in the second half. Shoot for even splits (or negative splits if you have the mileage) and don't get carried away.

    And in those final miles of the marathon, just remind yourself how many hundreds of training miles you've put in. You will be hurting at Mile 20 whether you're running fast or running slow. It's going to be painful; just acknowledge that and solidier on. You didn't train hard to make it to Mile 20 just to slow down. So cross the finish line strong and proud!

  2. Dude. Everything that's going through your head is going through mine- scary :) but honestly, seriously, deep breath. You've totally got this. Your training cycle has been rockin', the focus and drive is there, and hey, it looks like the weather will even be favorable as well, which is always nice! I'm so proud of and elated for you (weird?) bc I know the hard work and dedication that you've put in over the last few months to get where you are now. I highly doubt a couple drunches will throw things off :) We will have an awesome time in Eugene; I'm ready to make some badass-serious PR-BQ memories with ya!! CANNOT. WAIT.!!!!