Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Running is 90% Mental...the other half is physical"

I hope Yogi Berra doesn't mind if I take a bit of liberty with his quote about Baseball. The more I run, the more I realize just how much it is a mental game.

No no, not in the way that you may be thinking. I'm not being one of those arrogant guys who say "if you just tell yourself you can do it, then you can do it." I'm saying that despite all your best efforts at training, and how great your legs may feel, or how many times you've done the distance...there is ALWAYS...ALWAYS that voice inside you that says..

"Why don't you just quit."



When you really boil it down, that is truly the essence of distance running. The mental wrestling match that takes place that takes place when you are running on a 20 degree day and want to stop at mile one. Perhaps its the still small voice in your head that keeps repeating itself at mile 5 because you've never been over five miles before. For you marathoners, maybe its mile 20 when you hit the wall.

It doesn't matter when it happens, or your skill or distance level, you will only ever be as good as you can win the wrestling match with that voice. Today he spoke to me a lot. Mile 11...11.25...11.31...12...12.25...you get the idea. Honestly he wouldn't shut up until around Mile 16. That was the point that one or more of the following 3 things happened.

1) We got off that boring Swamp Rabbit Trail and my mind woke up.
2) The GU Espresso Love Caffeine kicked in
3) I could smell the finish (only 16-18 minutes remain Coffee)

In any case, my legs rebounded with energy I missed for miles and I was able to hit paces I had not in several miles, even with tired legs. Why? I had won the battle with that voice. My legs weren't tired, my mind was tired. I won today's battle with the voice, but I know he'll be back. Probably first thing Monday morning.

You can win it too. Prepare yourself to meet him, have plenty to say back, and most importantly don't give up. He'll eventually leave you alone...well at least for a few miles. Now go kick his butt.


Quick important sidebar...if the voice says anything about having to poop...you're not going to win that one. Find a restroom...quick. Trust me on this.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Enjoying the Journey

Runners in general talk a lot about goal races, or things they want to accomplish. I know that I've spent many of recent blog posts talking about the Marine Corps Marathon, but I think I would be remiss not to remind myself, as well as my readers not to hasten through the journey.

Without the 5am wakeup calls, the loads of sweaty laundry, the gallons of water, the aches and pains, the group runs, the lonely runs, the pasta dinners, the rainy days, the hot days, the cold days, the days you feel like you're going to poop yourself, the days you don't, the days you hit a new distance, the recovery days, the cross training days, the rest days, the days you blow off a run and regret it, the visits to the physical therapist, the nutrition dance, the blog posts, the encouragement, the self doubt, the motivation, the inspiration, and all the great people you meet along the way.

This dear friends, is what makes crossing the finish line so special. Its never just about marathon day, or running 26.2 miles or any other race or distance for that matter. Its about all the other days prior that you're following that never ending white line on the left shoulder of the road. Those are the days that make a marathon so special.

Some days its gonna suck...some days it won't. Enjoy them all.

What do you do to enjoy the journey to the finish line?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Attention Race Fans

I'm sure that you've all been eagerly awaiting this day. Many race directors and sponsors have been up nights fretting and wondering when they'd get to hear this announcement. The media has been anxiously awaiting their opportunity. So without any further ado, I announce...

Thank you all for coming today...
my racing schedule for Fall 2011-Spring 2012. (holds for applause) I want (more applause) please...I only have the room rented for an hour folks.

First up: The Spring Water Festival 5K in Williamston SC. As some of you may recall, this was my first race ever in 2009. I enjoyed the experience so much again last year that I wanted to make this an annual event. The race director works hard to put together a great event, and he always has lots of great door prizes, raffles, etc. It is a race with a great hometown feel, and it feels like I'm somehow going back to my roots...after all, it is where "the bug" first bit me.

Two weeks later I will be running my first trail half-marathon. Avid readers of this blog will know that my last trail race was...a fun...an exciting....a great experience..a gut-jostling, knee-shredding, terrible way to spend an hour. This time the 13.1 miles will cover only 26 ft of incline. I rise 26 feet just to go get coffee...this I can do. The race is called the Francis Marion Dirt Dash in Awendaw, SC.(Ok I live here and I don't know where Awendaw is...I had to look it up) The run is near Charleston through the Francis Marion National Forest. What's even more exciting is that my wife and I have two dear friends running it with us, and it will be their FIRST half-marathon. I sincerely hope that they return as our friends once we're done. I think this will be a nice tune up for the Marine Corps Marathon.

Not sure if I've mentioned it here on the blog, but my "keystone" race of the year is the 36th Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC. I think due to the amount of coverage I've already given it..that's all I'll say about it for now.

I'm giving myself November off (for now) to recover...but don't be surprised if a Turkey Trot shows up on an impulse.

In December I'll be running the Paris Mountain 20K...yes the SAME Paris Mountain that nearly killed me over Memorial Day weekend. However, I'll be running the Road Race variety. Its only 12 miles up and down of the same mountain...only on roads....awesome. I've never run a 20K race before, so I'll be looking forward to an automatic PR.

In January my target race of choice is the Charleston Marathon. Yes marathon. My goal is to stay in race shape through the turkey and stuffing and cakes and pies and whatever else the holidays bring and still run a January marathon. Anybody else craving Eggnog already?

February brings the Green Valley 10-miler. This is the race that triggered my IT Band and I wound up walking four of the 10 miles of the race. Quite a humbling experience. Although I did find out that runners are genuinely interested in helping someone who is limping midways through a race. I return in 2012 to tame the beast.

And finally March brings us to the Columbia "Famously Hot" Half Marathon in Columbia. It had better not be famously hot on race morning.

April? May? Well lets just see what happens. I'll open up for questions.



A couple of things of note...

1) I'm a week behind in my marathon plan. I screwed up somewhere along the lines. So instead of being on week 11, I just completed week 12. Apparently Pfitzinger counts like a computer programmer (from zero) and not like a normal American (from one). When I complete Week 1...the marathon should be at the end. When Pfitzinger completes Week 1, he begins "race week". I'm gonna have to skip a week somewhere here in the next 77 days. I did however complete 35.5 miles this week

2) I feel like a "real" blogger now. I participated in a twitter competition with CEP Compression last week and I was one of the winners. I contacted them and in addition to my prize they'll also be sending me a "package" to review. MY FIRST REVIEW PEOPLE! NOT TO MENTION FREE STUFF. This is perhaps the biggest day in a bloger's life, right? Well except for when you have a giveaway and you start getting tons of followers for the free swag...maybe I'll have something to give away. Stay tuned.


That's all for now folks. Pfitz is calling for 50 miles this week. Hopefully I'll live through it, and I'll see you on the blog again soon.

Press conference image courtesy gawker.com