T-9 days until the Newport Marathon and I am wired with excitement and anticipation. I met with my coach, Kris, for a little taper and pre-race pep talk. Well, it was supposed to be little (i.e., short), but I ended pouring my guts out everywhere and before I knew it we had been sitting there for over an hour.
Kris gave me my calendar for the next week and instructions to take it easy and run short–no more than a half-hour per run–with the exception of my last “long” run of 8 miles on Saturday. There are only five runs between me and the marathon. Holy crap!
Kris also counseled me to get a lot of sleep this week. Arrrgh… She knows me too well. She figured out that I’m a night owl (how else would I find time to write these blog posts? Or to watch all that HBO I pay dearly for?) and told me, in no uncertain terms, to cut it out.
We also talked about nutrition in the next week or so. I told her I’d been doing this no-booze, no-fried-food thing and that I’ve shed some weight, and she said basically I need to be sure I’m ingesting enough smart carbs, especially next week as I get closer to the marathon.
Our meeting also encompassed the race itself–pacing, fueling, hydration, and other logistics (which I’ll cover in a different post)–and then we really got into the meat of it. The psychology of this race. That is, that the little voice of doubt in my head, which has been whispering at me for the past few months, has been getting louder and louder.
So I asked Kris: “So… Do you think I can do it? Do you think I can qualify for Boston?”
Ugh, Molly! Doesn’t that saying go, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it”? Well, isn’t the inverse true?
Kris’s response to me: “How badly do you want it?”
I of course gave her some insecure, rambling response that demonstrated: (1) I really do want to qualify for Boston; (2) I will be disappointed to the point of tears if I don’t sub-4:00 or if I fail to qualify by a minute or some small amount; and, (3) I need to get my mental game together. Stat.
“I don’t have a mantra,” I told her. “And I don’t think those foo-foo mantras I’ve seen will help me.”
Kris reminded me that “race day is 90% mental and 10% physical.” She told me that she believes I can do it, that I have it in me, that my times (for past races and recent training runs) prove that I can do it: the rest is up to me and that little voice in my head. She told me that it will be hard at times, there will be a point where I feel like utter crap, and/or that some unpleasant surprise could occur. The key, Kris advised, is to be ready and have a plan for those situations, and to be prepared to run through them.
And then I had my Oprah aha moment:
Okay, I didn’t look ecstatic or crazed when I figured it out, but still.
I told Kris that part of me thinks that the reason I have self-doubt about qualifying is a way of not jinxing myself. If I don’t put myself all out there, then I won’t be devastated if I don’t reach my goal.
Wow. Why was that problem so hard for me to identify? Once those words were out of my mouth, it was like a bird caught the words and thoughts behind them and flew away with them all. I was relieved of those doubts and concerns.
I figured it out. It’s not about a mantra, at least not for me. To get through this, to get to the start line at Newport with my head in the right place, and to run those 26.2 miles with my mind focused on only one goal–qualifying for the Boston Marathon–I need to go after it like it’s my job.
In my professional life as a lawyer, I fight every day for my clients. Why can’t I fight for what I want for myself? I want to be at Boston in 2016. To get there, I need to fight for it like I do for my clients at trial: prepare like crazy (already done), keep a laser-like focus, stay nimble, refuse to give up during the rough parts, and work my hardest until the end.
I cannot compare myself to others; this is only my race. I can’t let that little shitty voice in my head hold me back and make me doubt my abilities or allow me to fall back on my Plan B (qualifying at the Portland Marathon, instead). I need to do whatever I can to summon the strength and courage and confidence to believe I can and will conquer this goal. I need to put it all out there to achieve it.
BQ or bust!