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Twin Cities Marathon Ahead! And Longest Pre-Race Post Ever.

Run the Twin Cities: Many Minnesota-Nice Miles: the AMR Exclusive Gear for the Twin Cities expo this weekend. Youbetcha I'm wearing one in the 10 miler.
Run the Twin Cities: Many Minnesota-Nice Miles: the AMR Exclusive Gear for the Twin Cities expo this weekend. Youbetcha I'm wearing one in the 10 miler.

 

Two reminders before I launch into a post almost as long as the 10-miler itself:

1. In addition to Another Mother Runner having a booth at the Twin Cities Marathon expo, Sarah and I will be speaking on the Twin Cities Expo stage—Enjoy and Excel: How to Race Like a Mother—from 4 to 5 on Friday, October 7. We'll have prizes and plenty of laughs, so join us if you can!

2. We'll also be hosting 30-ish-minute, slow shake-out run before the Twin Cities 10 Miler or Marathon. We'll leave from Coffee Bene (53 Cleveland Av S., St Paul, MN 55105) at 7:45 sharp, head up Summit for a bit (away from the races going on that morning), then come back and hang with some lattes and BAMRs. We have a group room reserved from 8:15-9:30 at Coffee Bene, so if you just want to meet for java and chatter, join us post-run.(There is a $3 minimum per person; if that's a problem, let Dimity know on Saturday morning and we'll figure it out!) Any #motherrunner can join; you don't need to be running on Sunday or in a TLAM Challenge to attend. Thanks!

When it comes to races, I have two rules:

1. I rarely, rarely do the same race twice. That way, there’s no way I can have a direct comparison of my performances—and, as such, I mitigate the chance for feeling disappointed.

2. My time goals, If I I set them, are rarely so ambitious that they'd be out of my reach. Notice the "if." Mostly, I just don't set them at all and just run. Again, disappointment on race day: I just don't want to go there.

Way, way back in the day, I was a top rower. I won't make you relive my glory days, but I will let you know that when I quit the sport, my overtrained body, exhausted mind truly QUIT. And 25 years later, I can still taste the disappointment around which I have now put protective mental fences. I know I did the right thing, but quitting is not really in my DNA.

When I QUIT rowing, I promised myself I would never need to push myself that hard again. I promised myself I'd never wear a heart rate monitor again. I promised myself that all my physical activity would be on my terms. No more coaches, no more periodized plans, no more pressure.

Some promises are meant to be broken though.

Over two decades later, I wear a heart rate monitor for every run. I have been lucky to have thoughtful, compassionate coaches to guide me over the years (thank you, Ilana, Bri, MK!). These days, I am—dare I say it?—slightly enjoying pushing myself harder than I have in years. Just slightly though.

Some rules are meant to be broken too.

This weekend, I am heading back to the Twin Cities 10-miler, site of one my best races ever for a variety of reasons. I am both crazy excited—it is truly a beautiful course—and crazy anxious. Because I know what my time was there: a speedy (for me) 1:24. (Why do I, who regularly confuses the dates of my kids' birthdays, remember time that so well?  I wrote it in the post.)

So here's the double-whammy: not only am I going back to a race where I basically tasted #motherrunner physical and emotional nirvana, I've been working hard lately and I am—do you believe?— not injured.

Translation: I have the ability to run my best on race day.

Have I do enough to beat 1:24? I don’t know. I hope so, but my more intense miles are hard to caclulate, since I'm not basing them on totally splits. I have been working on feeling my paces. When my workout intervals call for a 10K pace, I ask myself, can I hold this for an hour? An hour: the benchmark MK and I have settled on for feeling my 10K pace.

I'd like to think, when I am tapered and all is firing well, that I've found an intense pace I could run for an hour. That said, I’m still not sure because I haven't tried recently. Make that years.

More importantly, I've also really been trying to find a calm, accepting mental place when the work gets tough. I did a few tough workouts (6 x 1K with two minutes rest at 10K pace) outside and was flailing around so much on my pace, I had no opportunity to even feel anything except frustrated at my amazing lack of self-awareness and -control when I run.

So I decided to run them on the treadmill so I could just concentrate on my head and leaning into the effort. When I come to about last 90 seconds the intervals, I force myself into a mental rhythm so I can (try to) stop fixating on the hurt and find a rhythm with each footfall. One word for each step.

I.AM.STRONG.
I.AM.L;IGHT.

It worked well. (Although, I will admit, I also tee up a nice assist from listening to some of my old, favorite tunes. I mean, how can you NOT just go for it when Pat Benatar's All Fired Up is blaring?)

Anyway two weekends ago, I took my newly formed mantras outside for my last hard workout of this training cycle: 35 minute warm-up at easy heart rate, 10 x 4 minutes at 10K pace, 1 minute off, 25 minutes at easy heart rate, 2 miles at marathon race pace.

I got through about six intervals without needing too much mental umph. And then the last four intervals were HARD. One minute in, and I'm all, I.am.strong.I.am.l;ght.I.am.strong.I.am;l;ight.I.am.not.sure.why.I.am.running.hard.like.this.and.f.this.
and.how.much.time.is.left.and.I.am.strong.and.still.two.minutes.to.go.holy.hell.there's.no.way.I.
can.do.10.of.these.

That said, I do notice that my form immediately improves when I get my strong;l;ight on, and I swear, my effort gets easier.

I truly don’t know if I get faster, but I’ll take easier when I’m doing that thing I promised myself I would never do post-rowing: going way out of my athletic comfort zone. With a heart rate monitor on, no less.

 

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Because I'm all about transparency, my four-minute intervals clocked in under an 8:13 pace, and my marathon race pace miles were 8:50 and 9:04. And yes, this was a freakin' crazy long and hard workout.

 

So here's the thing. I feel weird posting my splits here, because I hope you know me well enough by now that so many more running-related things—mental health, confience, strength, friendship, connection, joy, foward motion—are so much more important to me than numbers are.

Still, we all know that in this sport, the numbers matter.

So another thing: I was going to wait until after the race to write about it and somehow couch my race in a word salad that would justify every mile. I'm still going to do that—and Lord knows, every mile will be lovely in some respect—but I hope you also know me well enough by now that I'm all about transparency.

Going to sea level will give me an assist. Being on my favorite Minnesota homesoil with my posse of #BAMNRs will give me assist. The cooler temps will give me an assist. Knowing I'm going to be able to cheer my head off after my 10 miler for the marathoners will give me an assist.

Still, I am not confident I can run 10 consecutive miles that average 8:24. And if I let myself, a slight obsession with 8:24 splits will swirl around in my head for the next six days through carpool trips and basketball practices, work meetings and dinner prep. Which, I probably don't need to tell you, is not super productive or helpful.

My solution: Instead of letting a time goal dominate my thoughts for the next six days, I'm going to concentrate on this: running SMART, STRONG AND SOLID

SMART: I am setting my Polar M400 exclusively to heart rate, and following the plan to the best of my badass ability. If I do nothing else on this 10-miler, I want to race smart. Not go out too fast, take the hills well, and pass people at the end.

STRONG: When it gets hard—and it will—I will not walk through the aid stations. I will not to not stop to tie my shoe unless it legit needs to be tied. I will repeat I.AM.STRONG.I.AM.L;IGHT so many times, I will get lost in the rhythm of it.

SOLID: As the miles tick off towards 8, 9, 10, I want to see that as an opportunity to lean in and shine, not an excuse to back off. If I can finish the race and say to myself, Dimity, you did not let yourself of the hook once, I will be as solid as the biceps of Jessie Ventura, the once illustrious MN governor.

Will that add up to a sub 1:24? We shall see.

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When I'm standing in my starting corral,I will take deep breaths to keep myself calm and ready to race. I will remind myself that Billie Jean King said that pressure is a privilege and remember how lucky I am to be able to lean into the (self-induced) pressure. I will remember that I signed up for this race, I earned the right to feel this pressure. I will remind myself I.AM.STRONG.I.AM.L;IGHT.

And then I will go out and be the smartest, strongest, most solid runner I am able to be on Sunday, October 9, 2016. And that, no matter how it shakes out, simply can't be disappointing.

Q for you: How do you balance pressure and enjoyment? Do you set up safeguards against disappointing races?

28 responses to “Twin Cities Marathon Ahead! And Longest Pre-Race Post Ever.

  1. Pingback: Taper time!
  2. You are strong, you are light and you will shine like a diamond! And I totally set up safeguards against disappointment. I am having a mental fitness session with a talented girlfriend of mine this afternoon to do some work on my self-talk and visualisations for my upcoming marathon. My words to her were, I cannot let myself off the hook!!! (which I do all the time when it gets tough). How bad do you want it, why do you want it? MK has given us much to think about. Go well Dimity. You know there is a huge group of local and international BAMRs who will be riding on your shoulders and whispering sweet nothings in your ear. 🙂

  3. Dimity, I am super excited for your 10K!! The stars are aligned and this is going to be YOUR race! Love that you shared your heart and soul on this one! I will be thinking of you while, EEKS, racing in Chicago, while you are BAMRing in Minnesota!! XOXO

  4. Dimity, I ALWAYS enjoy/appreciate/understand your posts so much…I too will be running the TC 10 mile, and am certain I won’t come close to my previous time. I am running with a an inoperable torn meniscus, and this whole year has become a process of adjusting to a ‘new normal’. I am working hard to balance my desire to be competitive with the joy and release I experience simply from running my best. I am hoping to find you on the road this Sunday!!!! You will shine

  5. Dimity,
    You are strong. You are l;ght.
    And you are going to SHINE!
    I had to wait to read your post because when I scrolled through it briefly and saw the semicolon I knew I needed to sit and be in a quiet place to take in your honest words. Thank you…not only are you strong and l;ght, but you are courageous. Now go be awesome on Sunday! ❤️

  6. I *needed* this post today~as I was starting to “obsess” with my half marathon on 10/8 re: my PR time goal. I was feeling too much pressure on myself and I like this reframe so much more!
    Good luck Dimity at your race!!! You are Strong!!!

  7. I am excited for you and your race. Also excited to hook up with AMR at the expo and for a run on Saturday. Will there be somewhere that we can leave our gear. I will be traveling by metro transit.

  8. Best of luck Dimity! You are STRONG!!!
    I like to set a stretch goal and then a realistic goal. And then I just go w/ what the race brings.
    I have favorite races that I like to repeat, and I also like to try new ones. I don’t worry about comparing times.

  9. I’m so excited to connect with AMR at the expo!! I wish I could join at Coffee Bene, but I’m doing the 10K so not sure if I will make it in time. Are babies allowed if I can? 🙂

    I tend to only have a few serious goal races each year and then several others with more relaxed goals. I also work hard to find the joy and the learning opportunity in races that don’t go as planned. I find so much strength and joy in hitting tough goals that I can’t give up on pushing myself, but I do understand the burnout and stress that comes with pushing too hard all the time. Good luck on Sunday!

  10. Sounds like you are ready! Both mentally AND physically. Super excited for you! I have never left a race course happier than when I leave it all there. The number might not match how I think my effort felt but if I know I did my absolute best, I am thrilled. When it hurts, I remind myself how pissed I will be if I didn’t give it my all and my mantra becomes KEEP IT UP. Good luck, Dimity!!

  11. I loved this post and will take many thoughts from it as I run the TC 10 on Sunday “with” you, Dimity! I’ve not had a serious break from running for over two years. This will be my last race of the season and then no more for awhile in order for my body to rest a bit. I’m going into it with no expectations, other than to finish and enjoy the company of my BRFs and the wonderful cheering crowds and the beauty I expect to see all around me. I am excited to see and hear you and Sarah on Friday. I wish you all the best for your race. I don’t see how it can be anything but wonderful!

  12. This is a wonderful post. I wish you well on the race!
    I do let myself off the hook when the race gets tough, and then I beat myself up for the next week for ‘wimping out”. I will lean in to the tough portions of my upcoming race, keeping the positive mantra running through my mind.

  13. Dimity, I am SO excited for you. I will be rereading this post many times before my goal race. You are strong and amazing and I will be cheering you on from afar!!!

  14. If I can still walk on the 9th – I’m running my first race, a half marathon, since March and am seriously undertrained, I’ll run up the mountain at church for you. Good luck!!!!

  15. I don’t have enough words to describe how much I love this post. Thanks, Dimity, for your constant honesty and inspiration. I SO wish I could be at this race to cheer you on. You are a rock star, no matter what. Go get it!!!

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