Obligatory "selfie" at the meeting
Jen did not disappoint... the meeting was, of course, phenomenal. From talking about racing mantras to body image issues, it was two hours of pure love for ourselves and our sport. Everyone seemed to leave with a genuine feeling of renewal. At least, I did. I knew I wanted to be at the meeting, if only to support the person who has supported me for so many months. I wasn't sure about how much I would take away, though. After all, Jen and I have ran together for hundreds of miles, accumulating hours upon hours of conversations. I call it my "free therapy," and I'm eternally grateful for it. I am a work in progress, however. My years as a competitive swimmer have ingrained in me a huge sense of perfectionism, of needing to beat my previous times and improve. Because of this, I do have a good deal of negative self-talk that goes on in my head. Not the body image variety, although I can always find flaws there. No, it's the running... the comparing... the not wanting to disappoint the inner me, my own worst critic.
Jen said the following to me in a message on Facebook a few days ago when we were having a conversation, and it was a huge talking point last night as well. "You need to be content with where you are right now." Hearing the words said out loud last night resonated even greater with me. The idea of not always needing to stretch for a goal, to reach for something more. To finish a race and realize that hey, it's okay, regardless of the outcome. To be happy with the moment, and not be thinking abouit the next step. This is a huge thing for me to even think about. I am a big believer in working hard and reaping the results. If I train hard for a race, I expect to do well. The idea that I won't upsets me greatly. That's where I am right now, with training for both the Emerald City half marathon (in 10 days) and the Columbus full marathon (in just over 2 months). I have huge goals, goals that scare me more than I can say. But what is the worst that will happen if I don't reach those goals? Truly... nothing. It just means that I wasn't meant to do it on that day. Not that it won't ever happen... but what I need to do is be grateful that I can run, be content with what I did on that day.
So this is my personal goal, to start reshaping my whole view of running and racing. I've been running with Jen's friend Andrea for a few long runs, and recently a tempo run as well. Andrea is amazing... super fit, Boston Qualifier multiple times, and one of the most knowledgeable runners who I know. Jen hooked us up because of my need for a faster training partner, and I have loved our miles together thus far.
Andrea and me after a 16-miler this past week
Andrea has the most amazing mantra, one that I have begun to adopt for myself. Jen actually put it on the cake last night!
So that is what I want to do for these upcoming races. Stay in the moment, be content, run like the wind, run with joy. That all being said... it wouldn't be me if I didn't enter a race with a plan, with goals. So, here goes nothing... my Emerald City goals.
C goal (the one that I really should accomplish unless it's 90 degrees out and I'm sick): A PR. Now a personal record/best time is no joke. However, I haven't truly raced a half marathon since last November. I paced a friend to her own PR in April, but that wasn't me going for a time, it was me helping a friend achieve her own goal. Last weekend Andrea and I ran 16 miles, chatting the entire way and not really pushing it till the final mile or so. The first 13.1 miles were finished in 1:52 and change (and our paced actually got faster after that). My PR is a 1:54. So a PR is definitely in the cards :)
B goal (the one that I will be happy with, that I am fairly sure I can do): Running under 1:50. A 1:50 half marathon is averaging 8:23/mile. That's speedy quick. But I have been feeling really comfortable running in the 8:30-8:40 range, so I am thinking that I will be able to race in the 8:20's and beat this goal. I will be very happy with a sub-1:50.
A goal (the one that is my pie-in-the-sky, ultimate dreaming goal): Running a 1:45. A 1:45:00 is averaging 8:00/mile. That pace scares the crap out of me! Up until recently, I had never even averaged sub-8's on a shorter run. I did a 6 mile tempo run with my friend Tamara a couple of weeks ago though, and did just that. It was not easy. Not for a second. But it did give me a huge amount of confidence. Maybe, just maybe, with rest, these legs can push it out.
I won't lie, I'm afraid. I will have to push the doubts and the pain more than I ever have before. But I am up for the challenge. I will run with joy. And regardless of the outcome, even if I don't PR, I will do my best to be content with where I am.