On Friday afternoon, May 11th, I flew from Denver to Sioux Falls, SD and drove an hour north to Brookings, SD. And on Saturday morning, after a night of tossing and turning, I ran the Brookings Marathon, 27 days after running a brutally hot Boston Marathon."We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success. "
My aim was clear: to qualify for Boston again. I hate that kind of pressure, and I usually set my sights fairly low so that I can be surprised if things turn out well and okay with it if things go a bit pair-shaped. I tried to salvage my winter training cycle - which was a hodge-pogge of challenges, and ups and downs - and I suppose I did exactly what I prepared myself to do. I haven't hit my groove since my injury last November and then the concussion in February dealt the final blow to my initial aspirations - which if you asked me in October, I would have said I hoped to set a masters PR in April. Alas, it was not to be. There would be no brilliant revelation, not rabbits pulled out of hats, on this glorious day in South Dakota.
Well, I took a gamble, not entirely irrational, but not entirely rational either, and I lost the bet. This is still fresh and so I'm mixed on the message I'm being sent, but at this point I am: a) disappointed, and b) happy that I tried. Mixed emotions to be sure - and I'm used to mixed emotions, but I must admit that I wish things had gone better this past Saturday.
I could blame LOTS of factors for my failure to score that BQ. Not the weather this time - the weather was great. Oh, for weather like that 4 weeks ago in Boston! Oh, how differently I might see the world today had that gone well - but, that's not what we got. Just deal.
Was it insufficient recovery from Boston? Yes. Insufficient (in terms of specificity) training? Yes. Injury? Yes. Concussion? Yes. Fighting an impending cold? Yes. PMS? Yup, that's what I said guys - PMS - Oh, Yes! End of semester and travel fatigue? Yes. And worse of all - my feet went numb! Hello down there feet - why are you doing this to me? You've never failed me like this before. I must admit that that was entirely unexpected. Just deal!
But what does it really matter? What sense is there in whining? It does no good. It changes nothing. I tell my five year-old daughter this fact of life ad nauseam. Let's face facts: Those races where everything works, everything clicks, everything feels on and easy and smooth and you're healthy and the weather is perfect, and course is divine - these are rare gifts indeed. The question is whether you can deal with the hand dealt to you and do what you can on the day you have. And the fact remains, that I gave it the best I had to give on that day.
I try not to fester, but I do. I analyze, I dissect, I inspect every possible variable. The analytic philosopher in me tries to pull the pieces apart into itty bitty bits of manageable objectivity. But my more synthetic sensibility, which truth be told is my more natural inclination, leads me to suspect that the variables may, for all eternity, remain a mystery.
But the unknowns aside, I must admit to myself that my body did what it was trained to do. Just because I ran 3:53 (This year I needed 3:55. I ran 4:01 on Saturday) last year without feeling particularly taxed, does not mean that I can do the same thing this year, a different and much more difficult year, even if I will it to be so with all my heart and soul. As much as running demands a determined will and a passionate heart it also demands the right training, and when the two come together at just the right time, it feels easy and right and good.
And I will continue to pursue that aim, wounds and all...
"There is something about jumping a horse over a fence, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps it's the risk, the gamble. In any event it's a thing I need." ~ William Faulkner