Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mental branding

Just 3 sleeps till VCM and while the weather isn't looking great, I'm focusing only on what I can control.  The weather will rarely be ideal and frankly, I'm tired of making excuses b/c of it.  To use a way-overplayed phrase, it is what it is.  Weather aside, I want this race to be about not making excuses.  No "but this... " or "but that... " as an explanation as to why I didn't stick with my plan.  Sure, things may happen that I don't want around me but as long as I recover and get back to my plan, I'll consider that a successful race.

I want to remain in control, I want to be the boss of both my body and my monkey mind.

Part of my prep for a race involves music, it comes to my aid both on a daily basis and pre-race.  I'm a big music fan, of most varieties and while I don't listen to it while running races and only at times during training, I can recall music and lyrics most anytime I want.  I can also usually remember the context in which I heard a song and this can be very motivating.  Case in point, Intro by The XX.  Hearing it in the context of this video has already come to my mind while executing a workout.   It gives me chills both when in the accompaniment of the video and all on it's own.  It stirs something deep inside me.  Lyrics are like mantras.  So when I'm feeling the need to mellow out I find something on the iPod that suits me or when I'm ready to pump it up, I've always got a go-to tune or two to get me rev'ed up.  When I'm with other members of Team Pfeiffer pre-race we're all about listening to Girl Talk but lately it's a song by Fabolous and my interpretation of some of his lyrics.

Go hard, today 
The past is the past, you know
Can't worry the past cause that ye-sterday
It's a new day bro
Ima put it on the line cause it's my time
My day, gotta do it now
Hey hey hey heey
I gotta stay on my grind cause it's my time (hey)
My time (hey), my time (hey) 

Team Pfeiffer jammin' out prior to last year's San Francisco HM

Monday, May 24, 2010

Meanwhile back in taper town

It's a funny thing tapering twice for marathons within 4 weeks of one another.  Well I guess it's not strange or odd for multiple marathon folks but I don't normally fall into that category so it's a little trippy for me.  Probably the best thing I can say and feel about it is that I don't feel in dire need of a taper.  Sure, I need and want the extra time to really solidify my race plan and visualize it's execution but I don't feel beat up and that was one of my larger concerns about squeezing in another May race.

The last physical & mental boost experienced came about yesterday in the form of the Brooklyn HM.  I had already registered for this race before deciding upon VCM so after consulting coach, we decided that it would still be a go but that I'd have a specific plan in place for the 13.1 miles.   Start easy (4-5 mi), slide down into MP (4-5 mi) and finish easy.  Do not race it in.  Remain in control and fight off dropping the pace outside of the specified MP window.  Got it.  Good.

I ran this race last year too and really liked it.  The course has you running two loops of Prospect Park and then heading out onto Ocean Parkway running a pretty straight line out to Coney Island, finishing on the boardwalk.  A HUGE improvement over how the course used to run (up until last year) where you started at Coney Island and finished with two loops of P.Park.   Improvement b/c if you've ever run Prospect you know it's not flat and there's one big dude of a hill in particular that can slow you down quite a bit + you gotta suck it up for two loops. But I digress... race went pretty much as expected:

M1: 8:24
M2: 8:27
M3: 8:05 - PMPM (premature marathon pace mile)
M4: 8:01 - another PMPM
M5: 8:25
M6: 8:25
M7: 7:46 - MP
M8: 7:57 - MP
M9: 8:04 - MP
M10: 8:08 - MP
M11: 9:06
M12: 8:38
M13: 9:39 (including a porta potty stop)
M _.1: :54 

Finished with an official time of 1:50:07

I was pleased with the effort, how it felt very controlled and how my mental game played out (stick with the plan!).  I feel extraordinarily blessed receiving some really great advice and encouragement from you all here on the blog, in person and via email messages.  It really means a lot to me and I really tried to put much of it into practice along the course on Saturday.   I'm planting the thoughts further into my race plan for this coming weekend, I certainly feel ready!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's all in my head

Another "any one who knows me knows" statement coming in 3, 2, 1 ...  I consider myself a pretty tough individual.  It doesn't hurt that I'm stubborn as all hell and being a typical Taurus, a hardworking, determined individual.   I welcome any physical challenge that comes my way and often have great success with them.  I don't like to say "I can't" to anything.   I will spend hours and hours and months and months building up to a single event but, and this is where I need some help, this is where I struggle.

I always have.  

I get into my own head too much.

I start to put boundaries on what I'm doing and where I'm going.  Most specifically, while running a marathon.  Maybe it's the logical, detail oriented business analyst in me maybe it's something else but I need to get past it.  I have the means to get past it, I have the physical capabilities to make anything happen but still I get hung up. 

Mantras help.  Focus helps.  Confidence helps. 

What do you do to get yourself past these points?   Brute force?  Finding your special place deep inside the mind?  Disassociating completely? 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Checking in, like constantly

Since Illinois I've been making it a daily, sometimes twice daily habit to do a mental and physical check-in with myself.  I want to assure I'm in the right place and ready to tackle another 26.2.  Physically this didn't and doesn't appear to be a problem but the mental adjustment was larger.  I needed to reset the thought that I was wrapping up a cycle and get it moving forward again, for another 4 weeks.  I also needed to move past whatever thoughts I generated in hindsight from IL and fully engage myself into VCM.    Sure, applying lessons learned is a must but equally important is treating each running experience as it's own independent event.

And so the check-ins continue.

After a week of recovery and lower mileage I logged another 60+ week with a quality tempo workout and a fast finish 20 miler.   Both went very well and were nice confidence boosters.   And so I find myself back into taper mode in the first part of another 45 or so mile week and lots of rest when possible.  I also (lucky me!) find myself in another high-profile & stressful work project - gah, these things follow me around like my shadow.  Will be getting lots of yoga in to deal with both the taper and the stress  :-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The grieving period is ovah!

Numbness or Shock - check!
Anger - check!
Disorganization & depression - check!
Acceptance & Re-organization - check!  

Ready to don this outfit one more time ...errr, except perhaps swapping out that top for a sports bra that doesn't cause as much chaffing, and give 26.2 another go in Vermont over Memorial Day weekend!

This week is all about recovery and regrouping.  Next week I'm back in the game.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Down ...but not for long

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't stay down for long.  I let myself stew in my sadness or madness a bit and may tap into it a few more times to remember what it feels like before deciding that it needs to leave.  I don't operate well under such a blanket of sadness or negativity or really any alteration from my everyday demeanor.  It doesn't feel like me.  So when reviewing the disappointment for my race in Illinois, I straddle the line of rationalizing, understanding and questioning.  What parts are sadness?  Which are anger?  Which can I learn from?  And which are just un-categorized emotion?

I am/was heart broken.  Obviously this is not the race I've trained for and although the weather is not in my control, I continue to wonder if I reacted as best as I could. 

I didn't freak out.
I acknowledged the weather and carried through with a plan to carry water, sip more, sip often.
I stuck with a conservative, controlled pace.

However, I also acknowledged to myself that it would be highly unlikely to hit all of my goals given the conditions.  Although I didn't know 100%.  Instead I started thinking about saving myself and finding another race another day.

Was that it?

Could I have stuck with it, gritted my teeth and dug deeper?  Should I have?  I certainly felt better later in the race but by then my stomach was overfull of liquids in an attempt to keep myself hydrated and cool.  Of course I'll never know but I can't help but wonder.  Perhaps my vision for a good race is skewed?  Perhaps I don't know what it really means to "make it may day".

And this leaves me sad.

But not out.