Preparation. Preparation. Preparation. Don't underestimate the value of preparation before your next event. "Winging it" may occasionally get you by, but you can't perform at your best.
I learned this lesson, again, Saturday at the Wrightsville Beach Marathon. Despite years of running experience, and a huge "base" of training, my time was 39 minutes over my goal! What happened? Why??
1. I was underprepared. Due to a 10 day bout with a sinus infection a month before the marathon, I was unable to put in the necessary training.
2. Lack of training affected my race physically and mentally. My body wasn't ready and mind had a difficult time visualizing success.
2. Instead of adjusting my goal to a much more attainable time, I forgot all of the "rules" and attempted to run at my original goal pace. It worked for 17 miles. The last 9 miles were a combination of walking, running--very slowly to the finish.
My last two and half weeks of running consisted of only one "quality run". Even so, I stubbornly stuck to the notion that my previous running "base" and experience would carry me through. But, my confidence level was low, and I struggled to overcome higher than normal pre-race anxiety fueled by self-doubt.
What should I have done? What should you do if faced with the same circumstances?
The biggest mistake was thinking there were only two choices--run or not run. Using (20/20) hindsight, it's clear that adjusting my marathon goal by 15-20 minutes would have resulted in a better overall result.
The other option--the best option-- was the half marathon. Run 13.1 miles successfully, gain strength and confidence while continuing to train for a marathon in the near future.
What should you do? Number one, evaluate **ALL** of your options for race day. Put aside ego and pride. Go run your best race at a distance that matches your preparation. Enjoy the moments--and your accomplishment. Every race is a victory.
Despite the "crash and burn" at 17 miles there are always positives to take from disappointment.
• After almost three years of dealing with an injury that made completing a marathon ever again questionable, I survived--intact.
• At Mile 17 my car was within 100 yards! I knew my race was going downhill. The urge to quit overwhelming, it was tempting to get in my car and drive home. Very happy that I kept going.
• At mile 21 my leg cramped so badly that walking was difficult. I thought my day was over--again--but decided to walk up one more hill just in case it went away. Fortunately it did!
• Most importantly--we have an remarkable running community in Wilmington. So many supportive, kind and giving people--in the race and on the course. I am so grateful for all of the encouragement along the way--and it's an honor to run with you all.