Tuesday, May 24, 2016

You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather

After eighteen weeks and more than 530 miles covered, only four short days stand between me and the 2016 Vermont City Marathon.

By all accounts, it's been a wonderful training cycle. I maintained good health. I hit all my paces. I skipped exactly zero runs.

To say I've prepared myself would be an understatement. On my last long run, I wore my planned race outfit. It's now freshly laundered and already lying on my dining room table. I listened to my marathon playlist from start to finish. I arranged my route to mimic the elevation changes of the race course. I practiced slowing down for water stations. I made a plan for exactly where we will park, what time I will arrive at the start line and what I will carry with me. I studied the course map. I watched a turn-by-turn video of the marathon course...three times.

I feel strong and ready and totally in control of everything.

Almost everything. Weather is one of the few things I cannot control. The current forecast for Burlington, Vermont on Sunday is a balmy 82 degrees. It may not sound like much, but almost any running coach will tell you to adjust your expectations as the temperature creeps above 70. Here's one set of guidelines from Runner Academy:


And so, here I am, faced with the fact that, in spite of a nearly perfect training, I may have to scale back my expectations. You may or may not recall last year's missed-by-a-second Boston Marathon saga. I'd be lying if I said I don't desperately want to run a time fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon this time around.

But if I were to rob myself of a positive experience after all this hard work because I'm hell bent on one narrow, time-based goal, I'd be a fool.

These past eighteen weeks have been occasionally frigid,

sometimes grueling,

marked by new achievements,

filled with companionship,

and so much fun.

I've been practicing Yin Yoga during this training cycle. Unlike more active forms of yoga which emphasize strength, balance, movement and flexibility, Yin Yoga targets the connective tissues of the body through long held passive postures on the floor. Initially, I thought this would be a nice physical complement to running and lifting weights to give my hips and legs release.

Though the long held postures of Yin Yoga have indeed helped my dense connective tissues stay limber for this race, the biggest benefits, by far, have been mental. While flopped in a less-than-perfect, five-minutes-long pigeon pose, I've learned to rest with my own physical and mental discomfort. For someone who is constantly compelled to turn every part of my life into a competition, it feels unnatural just to sit and stew. I cannot successfully grit my teeth and will myself through the poses. In stillness, I am learning to acknowledge feelings and sensations that creep in without being able to control them. I'm not good at it yet, but I'm working on it.

The work for this marathon is done. Now it's time to trust my training, let go of control, and enjoy the experience.

See you on the other side!

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