Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Calming Down During the (Taper) Storm

For those of you who’ve known me for longer than about 5 minutes, you know that I’ve had my sights set on Boston for years. And in a matter of DAYS, I’ll be making that dream a reality. For those of you who’ve known me for a little longer than that (maybe 10 minutes), you know that I’ve also had my sights set on a sub-3 hour marathon. I'd be lying if I said I weren't scared shitless. Scared shitless of what? Stumbling. Starting out way too quickly and bonking. Not getting sub-3. Disappointing all of my friends and family who will be watching from Boston and elsewhere. I know they'll all say that it's merely an honor to even toe the starting line. And rationally, I know they're right. But just toeing the line isn't enough. There's that fervor in me to give it everything that I possibly can. Because the reality is that there's no guarantee that I'll qualify again. No guarantee that I'll get a second shot at running Boston. So I have one chance to run the best that I can in the best race in the world. 

Throughout this training cycle, I dealt with Achilles tendonopathy and plantar fasciitis and started doubting myself. Even with the outpouring of support, I was still wondering, "What if I fail and let everyone down?" I started pondering this on one of my runs (go figure), and ended up asking myself, "You have all these people who believe in you. Why don't you believe in you?” My subconscious made a good point. So often, I find myself advising others to stop the negative self-talk. But yet, I can’t seem to take my own advice. 

Dailymile has been a great source of encouragement over the last 3+ years. But this training cycle, I found myself logging on, reading everyone's workouts, and feeling like I wasn't doing enough to get ready. I think this was more when I was injured, but regardless, I was doing just about everything I could do. That never-good-enough feeling never seems to do anyone any good. And so I tried to tune out dailymile as best as I could. I dealt with that injury in February, and managed to log 177 miles in March and have a good experience racing the Shamrock 15K in the rain. 

Toward the end of the race

While my goal of sub-3 is scaring me, I'm also strangely calm. I can't explain it. I remember feeling this way before MCM, and the only thing I could attribute the calmness to then was the feeling like I had already won. I know, I know, it makes absolutely no sense to feel as though you've won before you've crossed the starting line. But all of the love and support I received just made me feel so happy. Plus, I got to catch up with some incredible friends during that weekend. So far, this marathon trip looks like it'll be very similar. I've received so many well-wishes from friends and family, and even tips from a few. I have plans to see friends who I haven't seen in over a year (some even longer). I'll be staying with one of my best friends from grad school (who lives super close to the finish line!). I'll be having pre-race dinner at my cousin's house. But what's most touching is that my mom will be making the 3,000 mile trip to merely WATCH me run. (Okay, maybe she's tacking a family visit onto her vacation plans, but the primary purpose of her trip is to watch me run.) How awesome is that?

Over the last few weeks, I've also received so many words of encouragement from my coworkers. Even they know this is a big deal for me. Now I may have sent them all an Outlook invite with my bib number so that a notification pops up around marathon starting time, but they started asking me about Boston before I did that. That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 

As the saying goes, "the hay is in the barn." In other words, what's done is done, and I can't do a damn thing to change it. It won't help me any to worry about it either, because that'll just translate to me being a nervous wreck for the next 4-5 days, coming out of the barn way too quickly, and then running out of steam. The level of support I’ve received from everyone is helping to keep me calm during a time that I’d otherwise be ready to jump out of my skin. And that makes me feel like I’ve won, whatever the outcome of Monday’s race may be.


  1. Ok so I'm really annoyed right now. I tried to post a comment end it disappeared. I shall try to duplicate my words.

    You're a very talented writer and I found your words extremely motivating and captivating. I know you can do this Austin. I remember seeing your joy when I watched you run nyc and you hit the mark you set out to achieve. Both in your time and just being there. This will be no different. Sub 3 is yours to take as long as you get out there and give it everything you have. Nothing can stop you except yourself. I'm so proud of you bro. I really wish that I could be there to see you again, but I'll be tracking your number on Monday and will probably even use it in my pep talk to my team in the morning meeting. Good luck bro, I know that you can do this. We will all be cheering for you here. Stella is very excited for you. Lol. Now just get out there and do it! Xoxo

    1. I've had the same thing happen to me (usually when I try to type comments from my phone). But I digress.

      Anyway, thank you so much for the great words of encouragement! You alway seem to have an incredible way with words. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this, You're right - the only limits are the ones we place on ourselves. The last quarter of that race is a blur, but by the good grace of God, I somehow crossed the finish line and logged a personal best. You'll be there in spirit (and I'm pretty sure the entourage will scream loudly enough to make up for it -- even if they don't end up yelling, "GET SOME, BRO!"). I'll send you my bib # between now and then. I'd be flattered if you used me in your pep talk on Monday too. Thanks again! Love you man.