ANOTHER
MOTHER RUNNER

Martini Fridays: Sure, I guess.

As I write this, I’m three days out from the Old Port Half Marathon, which I intend to PR in. Depending on when you read this, I could be on my way to Maine, having a panic attack at the starting line, trying not to barf and/or lie down at mile 8, or enjoying a post-race pie. Not a slice of pie, mind you. A whole pie. The flavor is TBD.

All stickered-up and ready to go.
All stickered-up and ready to go.

So the question folks like Coach Christine, acupuncturist Laura, various local friends, and online runner buddies like Lisa and Erica keep asking is: are you ready? Note that I didn’t mention my kids in that list. Their primary question on this day and every other day since they were capable of speech is: what’s for dinner? And my beloved spouse doesn’t ask because he knows the answer already, which is, “Sure, I guess. Why not?” because this is my standard response to questions that require a much longer answer than I’m certain the asker really wants to sit through.

Am I ready to run a 2:30 half-marathon? Sure, I guess. Why not? I’ve hit 90 percent of my paces and distances during training runs. The exception would be my last long run Saturday before last, where I had to run 13-14 miles with the last two at race pace of 11:22. The distance I accomplished — it was almost 14 by the time I got home — but I only managed one of those miles at race pace. After clocking a blistering (for me) 11:20 pace in mile 11, I stopped to take on some water and never could get back up to that zippy speed. Still, I count it as a training win, if only because it was a complete confidence boost to be able to move that quickly that late in a double-digit run.

Back from the long run, in my Saucony top that keeps the cars from hitting me.
Back from the long run, in my Saucony top that keeps the cars from hitting me.

As for the other 12+ miles of my long run, eh. They were fine. I had GUs of many flavors and podcasts of many types. The hills near my house made the first five miles a slog but were a great afterburner for the next five. The weather wasn’t too hot or humid and the rain held off. Don’t get me wrong — it was a push to run that far but it could have been much worse.

So, yes, in terms of my physical running engine, such as it is, I think I’m as ready as I can be.

The larger issue, however, may be my brain. It has long been the weakest link in this whole three-year running adventure.

I was not an athletic kid, nor was I an athletic teen or young adult or adult-adult. I’ve never been a big fan of “outside.” My only sport could be “competitive reading,” if such a competition existed. I read like Shalane Flanagan runs: long, hard, and fast.

…that’s what she said.

But can she sit on her heinie and read for eight hours?
But can she sit on her heinie and read for eight hours?

But when it comes to any vaguely athletic endeavor, I’ve got nothing to draw from to feed my mental game. I didn’t have all of those formative years as a kid where I had to dig deep and trust my body to do what it had been trained to do. I don’t know how to compartmentalize physical suffering in order to achieve a larger goal. I don’t have that drive to win or the innate need to “leave it all on the field.” In fact, that just sounds messy and unpleasant, especially when I could just go back home and crack open a book.

When the running gets to the point when I have to choose to surrender to being physically uncomfortable in order to reach a goal, I tend, simply, to panic and slow down. As a late-onset athlete, pushing past my comfort-zone is a hard sell, especially in the middle of a half-marathon and especially when I’m not in the lead pack. Or, even, a pack that can see the lead pack.

I don’t know how to train that part of my brain. While past success with four previous half-marathons lead me to believe that I’ll cross the finish line eventually unless my feet fall off, those same previous races all contained a moment where I fell off of my goal pace and never bothered to push to see if I could get it back. The closest I’ve come was a 2:32 in Syracuse last fall and only hit that because a) the course could not have been flatter or the weather more ideal and b) running buddy Lisa wouldn’t let me slack off. And, yes, that is the same Lisa I’ll be running with on Saturday.

Even if I rely on someone else to push me harder than I want to go, like BAMR and pacer Erica who already has a handful of motivating phrases ready to go, my brain still isn’t sure that such a pace is possible because I’ve never run it before. And, of course, I haven’t run it before because my brain doesn’t believe that such a pace is possible. You can see the problem here.

So am I ready? Sure, I guess. Why not? I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you take actual sports out of the discussion, what would your “sport” be?

24 responses to “Martini Fridays: Sure, I guess.

  1. I could be a champion social media-ite. I can sit for hours mindlessly surfing FB and instagram without blinking an eye. Ok, so maybe I blink, but that’s only because I’ve been staring at a screen for hours…..

  2. Books have always been my best sport too. I did get outdoors long enough to walk to the library to change the giant stack for the next giant stack and haul them back and forth.
    Thanks for this – i completely identify and understand. After about 2 years of running, I ponder what it actually means to run till it hurts, and then internally debate on why I would want to. Isn’t it enough to just get out there? Or should I be pushing myself to something more? I think I have that debate every Saturday when the long run comes along.
    I hope the race is fantastic for you and you exceed your goal. Have fun and enjoy the pie!

  3. Kid Wrangling. I’m pretty great at it. 🙂

    Good luck Adrienne! Give it all you’ve got & then enjoy your pie, with a side of PR!

  4. I’d have to go with reading. Like you, I am a Late comer to this running thing. I ran my first half last November (Big Sur) in 2:18. Like you, though, I’m too old to leave it all out there and, personally, don’t put a lot of stock in pace. I just want to finish. But I, too, have the nasty head games playing and it’s hard to eliminate those negative voices. Helps to run with friends. You’ll do great!! So many believe in you. Go out and run your race and smile and raise your arms in victory when you cross that finish line pad!!

  5. 1- you had me with your Michael Scott homage!
    2- as a kid my sport would have BEEN being a fan of outside, doing everything the boys in the neighborhood did (climbing trees, building forts, skinning knees on my bike.) Now? Being a foodie is my sport, and as such I should run way more than I do.
    3- you almost ran a 2:30 by yourself, I am 100% sure my friend and BAMR Erica will help motivate you to get there.
    Good luck!

  6. Napping
    Eating cheese
    Planning vacations for my family, especially to Disney
    Instagrammimg narcissist pics

    🙂

    Have a great race–can’t wait to hear how it all goes!

  7. “I’ve never been a big fan of ‘outside.'” I laughed out loud with that one. Me too!! I just started running a few months ago – got a wild hair and decided to try a 5K – and I’ve kept running. I am slowwwww but who cares? And the mother runners and this community is the reason I started running and keep at it. Your writing totally cracks me up! I wish you all of the best this weekend and I hope you have some fun, no matter what your time turns out to be. 🙂

  8. Shopping on Athleta during sale days!

    When I run, I often think I am running and looking like Shalane. And then I see that picture you posted of Shalane, and it reminds me very strongly that I DO NOT look like or run like Shalane…sigh….

    Woman, you are going to ROCK this race! Why not? Don’t think about how crappy the race could go…think about how AWESOME it might be! because – let’s face it — why not??! I am sending LOADS of good jumbies your way!!!!!!

  9. I could take the title in competitively reading fitness and trash magazines (my guilty pleasure).

    I am so excited for you! You are going to do great! I have yet to figure out how to push through the pain. If you figure it out, please share!

  10. My sport would be walking in the woods with my dog. Or sitting on my deck drinking beverage of choice, depending on the time of day.

    I always try to finish a race with nothing left. I have a half in Saratoga on Sunday. It’s supposed to be hot. I think we have only had 2 days above 80 all summer, so this won’t be a PR 😉

    Good luck to you and enjoy the experience 🙂

  11. My “sport” is definitely beer drinking and eating. And that is exactly why I run.
    Good luck! You’re going to crush it!

  12. Knitting and beer drinking. I belive I could be a contender on the later.

    I too am a late onset runner. 5 kids have given me a significant amount of mental toughness, but they have also sucked me dry! Best of luck! The whole BAMR tribe will be routing you on!!

  13. First off, if you’ve done the work, you’ve got this! I truly believe it. Second, the best advice I’ve received is to find the joy in the run, especially when you want to PR. My best and fastest runs (and for the record, 2:30 is pretty much my half time) have always been the ones where I go out to have fun, and don’t focus too much on my watch.

  14. I’m a “late onset athlete” much like you…. could never do any sports and didn’t start running until 38. I think our perspective is completely different when we start as adult adults…. less about times and more about just getting out there. My sport would be drinking wine … hopefully that doesn’t make me seem like an alcoholic, since I do take some rest days here and there from that sport as well;)

  15. Best wishes for a great half. Your post is timely. I’ve been pondering race paces, pushing oneself, and my equal amounts of fear and horror at pushing myself. Do I set a race pace based on desired finish? Or, do I run, see what my pace is while pushing it, and use that as training RP? (Totally rhetorical question: Like pregnancy and a birth plan….a lot of it will be what it will be based on many factors and I have to react to it) Good Luck!

  16. And if you DON’T PR? So what? From a woman/mom who has chosen running for her sport 44 years ago-I will tell you that you just need to have fun, relish in the fact that you are out there mixing it up and you don’t have to write about every little “failure” to the masses if you don’t want to. Now get out there and KILL this race…!

  17. I will join you in the sport of reading.

    Cheering you on with the race… I have a good feeling your pacer will help you reach your goal!

  18. I would have to guess reading is my sport. I had a goodreads challenge of reading 75 books this year. I have not entered all I’ve read and am currently at 90 books.

  19. On the query – My sport would be overplanning. Why do one thing when you can do 15323?

    On the post – There’s some science on performing well in classes that it matters that you visualize doing the work AND The positive outcome. You’ve already got the work in now visualize putting it together on a great race. I’m cheering for you!

  20. Baking. My sport would be baking. Hence, the need to run.

    You will crush your goal. I always seem to run faster on race day. I’m pretty sure that’s a common thing, so try to expect it. 😉

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