Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill
After a too long hiatus from blogging, I’m back. Ideally I’ll get back to having 2-4 posts a week, but a minimum of 1. My training kind of went out the window due to a busy busy summer and I didn’t achieve my goal of breaking 3 hours at the Portland Marathon… I didn’t even come near it. Despite my self-abuse for the first few days afterward, it was not a failure, it was a learning experience. It has never been clearer to me that a marathon is just as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one.
I knew going in I was under-prepared, I’d gained 10lbs due to not adjusting my eating habits to the weaker training and I just didn’t have enough quality miles leading up to the race. I kept trying to make myself believe I could achieve the 3 hour goal because I had so many miles under my belt over the last few years, but part of me just wouldn’t buy in, and that’s the part I listened to sadly.
As I lined up to start the race I debated starting with the 3:00 pacer, but decided that one wasn’t in the cards, so I lined up on 3:05 (Deciding to still shoot for a BQ and new PR) and soon we were off. I kept up fine through the first 6 miles or so, had to take a bathroom break so rushed ahead and came back out with them still in sight. But doubt was beginning to creep in, looking at my heart rate on my GPS earlier I’d begun thinking that my HR was too high, that I wouldn’t be able to keep this up. By 10 miles I’d slowed down and I was experiencing some GI issues… another bathroom break. I came out with the 3:10 pacer in site, I could still achieve close to or better than my marathon PR (3:10’46”) if I kept up. But then I hit mile 15 and yet another bathroom break and something snapped, I didn’t realize it but I gave up.
I was now walking segments rather than running, thinking in was just too weak to keep pace. Looking at my GPS Record from the race that isn’t what happened. What happened was: my heart rate stayed relatively low throughout the rest of the race, I just wasn’t trying my hardest. I’m glad to say that even though I lost my effort, never once did I consider stopping and taking a DNF, I wasn’t injured, I wasn’t ill, I was just scared of failure so I let myself fail, and that’s okay. I still crossed that finish line, sure it was 45+ minutes behind my goal, but 3:48 is still faster than many people will ever do a marathon.
Lesson learned: If you’ve got an extraordinary goal like a 3 hour marathon, you have to work extraordinarily hard at it, and you’ve got to believe you can do it. I’ve got nearly 6 months to prepare for the 2013 Yakima River Canyon Marathon, and I can break 3 hours if I put my mind and body to it. I’m back into base building now and feeling great.