Back before my first ironman, I remember being worried about being sick or injured or something, and mentioning it to my coach. The response was that racing was icing on the cake, and the training was the cake itself. Probably not the right thing to say to the guy who always has Sour Patch Kids sitting at home (seriously, I ought to try and get an SPK sponsorship).
I noticed an interesting thing yesterday after I finished racing Boston’s Run to Remember 1/2 Marathon (16th AG, 44th OA). I set a PR (pretty big improvement), didn’t have stomach issues that required me to stop, and came close to hitting my goals. I’m guessing that if I tapered for the race instead of training right through it, I probably would have made more of an improvement on my time, but I’m happy as it is. The interesting thing, however, has nothing to do with how I raced that race (though I think I did an OK job of pacing), but rather what my thoughts were.
If you haven’t seen it (and you probably haven’t cause I hid it for reasons that are probably stupid), I wrote in the beginning of May about motivation. What I’ve found is that what motivates me in training (stupid shit like feeling inadequate as a human, boredom, frustration, etc) plays no role in my motivation for race day. On race day it is all about putting in the maximum possible effort over the distance. During the season opener race, I never once looked down at my arms and said, “ayup, I need to go faster because I suck”. On race day, I enter my own personal hell/pain cave and that is where my mind stays (unless I am having a very bad race and then there is no need to motivate as it isn’t a race anymore). All of the shit that I had been thinking of before the race yesterday (and believe me, there was plenty that I was thinking about that had nothing to do with racing), disappeared with the start of the race.
In any case, I think it’s notable that what I need to go out and train is totally unnecessary on race day.
As for the 1/2 marathon yesterday, here are my thoughts: I lined up in the front row (I figured I would finish in the top 40 or so, and I’d be ok up front) and took off a bit harder on the first mile than I should have (6:22 instead of mid 6:30s). After that mile, I tried to settle down into a good rhythm, but had a hard time with pacing as the GPS was being wonky with the buildings downtown. Once we got onto Memorial Drive I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing (I don’t normally run on the street but I know that part of the run pretty well). I was still getting passed here and there, but it was at least motivation to keep the pace up. Once I hit the turnaround, I still felt pretty good so I started picking off people who had passed me earlier. It’s a shame that coolrunnings doesn’t have the turn-around time; it would be neat to see how many people I caught/was caught by after the turn-around. Once we got back into Boston, we rejoined the 5 mile course and I was a bit surprised by how few people were left on the course (I expected more walkers I suppose). Once again I lost a lot of the pacing information but just kept plugging along as best I could. I got passed by the first place woman at probably 11.9 miles and then the second place woman passed me in the final half mile or so (she was really booking it at that point). The race was a good checkpoint for how my running is coming along, even if I’m untapered.