Sunday, May 4, 2014

How I Got My P.R.-- Part 1

As we pulled into the drive way of the ER on that Tuesday night after the Glass City Marathon, I tried my best to blank out. I did not want to think of a thing. My goal this time around was to run smart, strong, in-tune with body so as to avoid my annual visits to the hospital. I had done my best to do all of those things and followed all of my doctor’s directions. But despite my best efforts, I still managed to end up in the place I had worked so hard to steer clear of. But this time around there was no migraine, no passing out, and no ambulance. My ankle had out grown my calf, and needed medical attention in ways I had yet to fully conceive.  I had to make the conscious decision to bring myself to the place that has haunted me since my appendix ruptured in 2006.  As soon as we parked the car, I climbed out, grabbed the old crutches I pulled out of my parent’s attic, and hobbled through the parking lot into the ER. I prayed I wouldn’t see any of the doctors or nurses who had seen me before, and I hung up my head low as I moved through the movable doors. The nurse at the door directed me to the registration table. As I walked over, I gave a faint smile to the friendly lady waiting to check me in. Soon thereafter, I was overcome with weakness and pain, my good leg that brought me in gave out, I lost balance, and with a squeal I was on the floor. It was the most perfect imperfect dramatic entrance concluding an amazingly tumultuous marathon journey. And, wellllll, here is the story of how I got my PR. :-)

The Beginning:

The first 13 of the 16 weeks of my marathon training were by far the best training I have ever completed. After all of my migraine struggles, if I was committing to training this spring it was going to be for something good. It was not about completing the distances; it was about doing it with quality. I had a “I’m going to kick a$$” mentality and there was nothing that was going to change that. I had a one-track mind. I wanted PRs and was not willing to settle for anything than less.

I was following one of Greg McMillan’s customized training plans and was nailing every workout. And, each and every single one of those workouts was nailed on the treadmill. Yep. Every tempo run, 20 mile long run, speed interval, fartlek, and recovery run was all performed on the treadmill. Following my doctor’s orders, I played it safe and built up a mental toughness through my treadmill training that carried me through my road races that spring.

After my tune-up 5k race with a small but mighty 19:24 P.R. in February, I knew I had it in me to do something great this spring. I could feel it the lightness of my feet, in the power of my legs, in the strength of my core, and in the deepest core of my heart. I knew 2014 was going to be my year, and I was not going to let anything stop me. I cut out things in my training that I had done in the past that I did not enjoy. I stopped all of the Pilates and free weights, I hid the foam roller, crossed off any hill work that showed up on my running plan, and stopped worrying about my weight.  Running was not going to be about looking good. It was going to be about BEING good. In training past, I was so worried about both looking good and running good, and it was mentally and physically exhausting. These worries are only natural in our sport. We leave very little about our physique concealed when we’re out there doing what we do. We wear formed fitting compression pants and shirts when it’s cold, and short shorts and little singlets when it’s warm. We can easily get fixated on being as thin as the next runner. But with all that I have been through, some may call it running maturity, and I have learned to change my focus.   I have forced myself to focus on food is fuel, accepted my body for all of its imperfections, and choose to look at myself for the fast, strong, fearless lady that I am. As long as I’m speedy in my running clothes, it does not matter one bit how I look next to the next runner.  

I made it my goal to take one workout at a time and to not look too far ahead in my training schedule. I saw what McMillan had on my plan for that day, the paces I needed to hit, and just did it. I wasn’t particularly analytical about what I was doing it. I did it, and then it was on to the next day. I kept that same attitude during my individual workouts. I focused on each mile while I was completing it, not thinking too far ahead. With this mentality, I was powering through pretty tough workouts and long runs at paces that were comfortably challenging. I knew I was pushing the pace, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. It was just the right amount of a$$ kicking that would help me kick a$$ in my racing this spring. Or at least that was my plan! be continued...

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