Monday, May 14, 2012

Time to Crawl Under a Rock and Lick My Wounds?

That's a Question, Not a Statement of Intent.
"We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success. " ~ Henry David Thoreau
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.  

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


  1. Hat's off to you for getting right back out there. And, yes, PMS is easily one of my biggest roadblocks to a good run. I ALWAYS run slow, tired, and cranky for those couple of days - I absolutely hear you!!!

    1. PMS - one of those things women athletes don't really discuss much but it's a bit of a deal killer for me, and so I try to plan well. But the fact is that, for me, intense training sometimes gets things out of whack, and the best planning turns into the worst!

  2. I was thinking about you this morning--we had a crazy weekend, or I would have emailed you to check. Oh, I can't tell you how much I relate to this post and to your situation in general. What you say at the end is truly wise: "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."

    May that happen for you on the next go! (I won't bug you about sleep until next week. You deserve a week off from nagging. I will tell you, mine has been bad. I'm failing the challenge. But there is still a half-month left. :^) )

    1. I just wish we could control that time when it is all "easy and right and good", but then it wouldn't be so special when it happens.

      Oh, and thanks to tapering and recovering, I'm actually sleeping a bit better, at times, though it's been fairly up-and-down. And once I start really running again, in this heat, well...all bets are off ;) Still trying!

  3. No BQ, a disappointment I'm sure. But when you put it all together, you're a daring, adventurous, bold, strong-as-all-hell woman for running the SD marathon.

    1. Thanks Ken - I would, however, like too be just 6 minutes stronger ;)

  4. Don't be hard on yourself - I say you had to go for it. I'm sure Boston took it's toll. Sorry you didn't get a BQ - but you will next go around. You are due for a great training streak!

  5. The lack of BQ must be frustrating. But things happen. I really think these kind of experiences are more important than the successes, though we need a balance of both.

  6. Things do happen. You ran as well as you could given that day and all the things piled upon you (Numb feet...yikes). This past few months have been hard on you, but you have been tougher and still kept up the training. I'll never run at your level, but I am thinking the most important thing is to keep learning form each experience so the next will be better informed.


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