Tuesday, January 12, 2016


In February, barring any issues, I’ll be toeing the line at the LA Marathon.  I ran my last marathon, the Mohawk Hudson, back in October, so I didn’t get much of a break between the two training cycles.  Three, maybe four blissful days.  After which I immediately got on the phone with my coach to discuss the game plan for this next race.  Given how tired I’ve been these past couple weeks,  I’ve been asking myself if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this quick turnaround.  But, with less than five weeks to go until race day, there’s no looking back.  Game on.  LA will be my 3rd marathon in less than a year and my 13th overall.  Call me superstitious, but I do think it’s a bit eerie that my birthday is on February 12th, and that I’ll be running lucky #13 on the 14th.  (pause for effect...I know, it's a stretch)

Post track workout w/ Felix

As I've been ramping up for this marathon, I’ve had the good fortune of getting to do several of my hard workouts with one of my former LHS XC runners.  He’s young and crazy fast so my workouts - 8 x 800 at a 6 minute pace, for example - are a complete walk in the park for him.  Ahhh youth.  Seriously, though, having a friend/rabbit alongside me for these tough training sessions has been invaluable.  So much so that I’ve found myself wondering if I could even pull off these workouts if I’d been on my own.  Yes, my friends, I am plagued by self doubt.  It is not one of my finer qualities.  And it is something that I desperately need to shake out of my system, at least as much as possible, in order to achieve anything of substance in LA.  Easier said than done.  Last week, I set out for an eight mile tempo run, again, with Felix, my trusty runner friend/rabbit.  Bless him.  I’d been fighting a cold since Christmas and as we warmed up I heard myself saying something along the lines of:

"I don't know how this is going to go, Felix.  I've been struggling with low energy all week due to this bug.  I’ll be surprised if I can pull this off."  

To which he responded, with a smirk on his face,

I know exactly how this is going to go.  You’re going to hit every mile at 6:35 because it’s what you’re supposed to do.  You say this before every workout for whatever reason and you always get it done.  This one isn’t going to be any different.  

You see, despite my doubt, which often has me wondering what I’m capable of before I even lace up my kicks, I am a really hard worker.  And, usually, if I want something bad enough, regardless of how hard it’s going to be for me, I will do whatever it takes to make it happen.  Is it tricky to have the work ethic of a horse with the self doubting devil always sitting on my shoulder?  Yes.  Yes it is.  Maybe that’s what keeps me keep coming back for more; the fact that I continue to prove myself wrong each time and I’m damn proud of it.  That's kind sick,  isn't it?  Either way, as we began our workout, Felix said something interesting.  Something like:

You are and I are similar.  We're not super confident or cocky, but we're both willing to work our butts off to get it done.  The difference, though, is that when I’m staring down a hard workout, I like to lace up and step into the ring.  I get myself ready for the fight, embracing the challenge, and not only do I want to win, but I want to crush it.  You, you’re always ready for the fight, but you're never quite sure how it's going to play out, which sets you back before the bell has even rung.

I listened quietly to the younger, and this case, wiser jedi as he imparted his logic.  And as I processed his theory, still busting out mile repeats, mind you, I thought about all the times I tell my own high school athletes how important it is to have a positive attitude regardless of how tough the workout might be.  It drives me nuts when one of my runners steps up to the line on the track and spits out something like, "Ugh, I just CAN NOT do this today."  To which I often respond, "well, no, now you probably can't.  Because you’ve basically set yourself up for failure before you've even given yourself a chance to try.  This always annoys them, but that’s my job, so I don't care.  For all these years, I’ve looked at self-doubt in a different light than negativity.   They're similar, yes.  But, while I doubt, I’m still smiling, excited, in a way, to see how things might unfold.  I've always felt like that was not the same as just saying "I can't."  What I realize now, at age 40, is that when it comes to training and working to achieve goals of any kind, it all falls under the same umbrella.  Doubt, fear, anxiety, all of it will have the same impact on a workout before the work begins.  Start off fierce.  Have a fierce workout.  Start off annoyed, be annoyed with the workout.  Start off unsure.  Stay unsure the whole time.  Even if you nail it.  Well, that sucks.  As Felix predicted, I successfully completed my 4 x mile repeats in 6:35 as planned.   Doubt and all.  Then he said,

Next time you’re staring down a hard workout, why not try something different?  First, accept that it’s going to be hard, because it will be.  It’s supposed to be.  Then make a conscious decision to prove to yourself that you are not only capable of doing it, but perhaps even doing it better?”

Um. Yeah.  I responded.  That sounds like a f***ing great plan.  Screw you, doubt.  The gloves are up.  Let's dance.

Post mile intervals & attitude adjustment.

Listen to this:
Let's Dance - David Bowie (The Penelopes Remix)

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