I bought a new pair of shoes last week. The saleslady told me she couldn’t really recommend getting new shoes so close to race day, but I’d come home from my latest long run with a bruise on the bottom of my left heel and I was somewhat desperate to feel like I was doing something to make things better. I thought a fresh pair of kicks might be just the thing.
It wasn’t until I’d left the store, still feeling good about my purchase, that I realized that it was fully and completely a mental game I was playing with those shoes. Anything to give myself a bit more confidence going into Monday’s race.
And that’s what it is right now: a mental game. Am I eating enough carbs? Does it matter? Do I think I’m eating enough carbs? Am I getting enough sleep? Only if I think I am. (Okay, that may not be entirely true, but I think it kind of is.)
I’ve been going over my training log and with tomorrow’s 2-mile shakeout, I’ll hit 600 miles since training started on New Years’ Eve. That’s a lot of miles. More, I’m sure, than I’ve done any other marathon-training cycle. But will more miles mean a faster finish? A more comfortable race? A stronger second half? I know I’ve done a lot of slow, hard miles pushing the stroller. Will that help or hurt my finish time? I’ve done better quality speed work than I have in the past, but not as many workouts as I had planned. Who knows how that is going to effect my race?
And, of course I didn’t get to finish the longest of my long runs. I’m telling myself it won’t matter on race day. Those five I missed that day — or the 25 other miles I missed that week of illness — aren’t going to make the difference between a good race and a bad race. Only my attitude and expectations can do that.
And with that in mind, I’ve started a list of happy thoughts to keep me smiling through every. I’m determined to savor the experience. I do have time goals, of course. I’d really like to PR, which means I’d need to run a 3:21 or faster. Better yet, I’d like to break 3:20. But what I really want is to feel, when I cross the finish line, that I’ve run my best, that the training was worth it, and that it’ll be fine if I take a break from marathons for a couple of years. I don’t want to finish feeling like I could’ve done better, or that I wanted more from that race, or that I need to redeem myself . . . at least not right away.
But I’m going to try to leave after-the-race for after the race. (Ha! As if I don’t already have a hundred thoughts and hopes and plans and wishes!) Until then, it’s all happy thoughts and, full night sleeps, and lots of carbs.
ps If you’d like to follow my progress as I run from Hopkinton to Boston you are welcome to. Sign up for athlete alert here. My bib number is 14258.
The photo is from my long run two weeks ago, when I ran from Lincoln Center, down the West Side Highway, around the southern end of Manhattan, and over the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn.