At the start of 2014 I posted on the blog that one of my goals was to run four marathons this year with an average time of 3:20 or less. With the completion of my fourth marathon today, I am happy to say that my average for the four marathons was 3:17:17. Goal accomplished! Not only that, but of my eleven completed marathons, my top three times were all run in 2014.
Shortly after joining a competitive soccer team, my dad and I developed a unique pre-game signal. If possible, we would make eye-contact shortly before the game started (or perhaps later in the game as I needed a reminder and some encouragement) I would make a fist with my right hand and touch my fist to my head, and then to my heart. The message of the signal was to, ‘play with your head, but also play with your heart.’ This reminded me to be a student of the game and play being aware of my surroundings – it also encouraged me to be the hardest working player on the field, and to take confidence in that I knew I was loved regardless of how well I played.
As I look toward the start line of another marathon this Sunday, I have adopted the words, head and heart as my mantra. I want to run the first twenty miles with my head, and the final six with my heart.
Every race I run I will come to the start line with a target goal. In the months before a race I am tailoring runs to put me in the best possible position to accomplish my goal. In the weeks prior to the race I am readjusting my goal if necessary based upon how my training went and how I am physically feeling. In the days before a race I am once again figuring out what a realistic goal is. Before crossing the start line I will know exactly what time I want to cross the 10k mark, the halfway point, the 30k spot. I will know the necessary splits I need to run in order to reach these marks in the appropriate times. Joining a pace group can be very beneficial on race day because it can prevent you from having to do all the math on the day of the race. However, even when running with a pace group I still glance at my watch to check all my splits and then do all the mental math. In some ways it helps keep my mind occupied while running.
For this particular race I want to put a larger emphasis on running the first twenty miles with my head –meaning, I want to be very smart about it. Not getting too emotional and jetting out of the blocks at an insanely fast base. Not worrying about how many people are passing me, but staying steady with what I want to do. I want to stay mentally tough through twenty miles so I can put myself in the best possible position to finish the final six miles well.
Others have said, “the marathon doesn’t really start until mile 20.” In looking back at my previous races in 2014, with each race my splits started crumbling in the vicinity of mile 20. In fact, a month ago I was right where I wanted to be at mile 21, but simply could not keep pace for the final five miles. To avoid that, I am hoping to run with my heart in the final six miles. To give everything I can, and to finish the final six with a time I am proud of. I recently came across a quote about the final miles of a marathon that stated, “You shouldn’t try to run around the wall rather, you should focus on running through the wall.”
Another marathon is just around the corner – as long as I run the first twenty miles with my head and the final six with my heart, I will be happy with my time.
Below are the goals I set back in January, and my current progress:
1.Books: I have sold a total of 76 books, leaving 49 to go!
2.Shirts: 10 sold.
3. Miles: I have run over 1,300 miles. This goal is complete, and I am adding to my overall total!
4. Three down and one more to go. I will run my fourth marathon this year on October 19.
5. I have run three marathons so far this year, and my fourth is just over two weeks away. Through three marathons I have an average of 3:17:51, just slightly ahead of my goal!
Last week was filled with distractions that kept me from thinking about the race. I feel as though that has drastically changed this week as the race is on my mind a lot more. Sometimes that can be a good thing, as it forces me to make sure I have everything in order for race day. Yet, at the same time doubts that creep in can be a whirlwind of annoyance. The past few nights I have not slept particularly well as the race enters my mind as I drift off to sleep. Despite some of the things making this week mentally difficult, I find myself getting more and more excited. Truthfully I think some of the excitement is more anxiousness, as I simply want to know how the race will go and whether or not I meet my goals. On the other hand, I simply love to run, and not logging many miles over the past two weeks has been annoying – so I am looking forward to getting out there and being able to run again.