Wednesday, February 26, 2014

When The Going Gets Tough

I am well into my taper for marathon #6. Unlike other times when I have gone taper crazy and have eaten my way through the pantry and fretted over every little ache and pain, this time I’ve been pretty low key.

However, the thing that continues to intimidate me is the sheer marathon distance. Even though I have done this 5 times before, the 26.2 mile journey never seems to be any less daunting. That is my way of saying how much I respect the marathon and despite how freaking hard it is, I keep returning. What is the damn allure?

Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us.”
—Deena Kastor, opening line from the movie Spirit of the Marathon

Here is what I know from past marathons:

  • At some point I will be very miserable
  • There will never be a moment when I think about quitting
  • I will come in and out of wondering why the hell I do these races
  • I will come close to shitting myself
  • At some point I will hate all of the music on my iPod
  • The highs will be extraordinary

Today, Coach Kastor really spoke to me when he sent this email. I love it for two reasons: 1) it applies to any goal we set for ourselves, not just running-related, 2) it doesn’t let us off the hook to do less than our best.

“On March 9th there will come a time when you have to choose how hard you’re going to push yourself.

Some athletes will choose to stop and rest, and others will continue to push through the discomfort, forging ahead to their marathon goals. 

How strong will you be when the going gets tough?  Will you be able to look yourself in the mirror on Sunday afternoon and honestly answer the question, “Did I give it my all?” or “Did I rise to the occasion?” 

Will you be proud of yourself and your accomplishment?  You should be. You should already be proud of yourself for sticking with the training program, getting up early to get your long runs in on the weekends, running in all kinds of weather conditions, because getting this far is a challenge in and of itself…

The marathon is merely the reward.”

One thing I will say about myself in any race I have ever done, including the Ironman, is that regardless of whether or not my time goals were achieved, I never have had any regrets. I have always done to the best of my abilities.

I tell my kids all the time that only they know if they are doing the best, I can’t know that for them. That is how I feel about my races. Only I can possibly know if I gave it my all.

What do I do when the going gets tough? The only thing I can do. Keep moving forward and know the struggle is a temporary one. That is all.

Now get me the hell out of 10 degrees and snow and into the sweet LA climate. And, I better meet some celebrities. Only just over a week to go ‘til I’m CA bound.

IMAG2704

How many marathons have you run? Do you forget about the pain and sign up for another one right away? I do not forget about the pain. Yet, I am strangely drawn to the pain.

Do you have regrets about a particular race? I regret my second half marathon when I ran on a stress fracture. I knew I was injured going into it, and should have not even showed up.

Tell me one celebrity you’ve met. Greg Kinnear, Linda Ronstadt (I’m old), Aaron Neville (that’s 3, I know you are impressed).

SUAR

PS: Limited edition LA Marathon gear is now available. Lots of cool stuff. Go HERE.

55 comments:

  1. "The marathon is merely the reward."

    I love that. It reminds me of something I read about how the training is what matters and where you prove yourself; the race is just the cherry on top.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1. Two. During each of those, I told myself that I would never do another one. (But I'm sure I will!) I love the feeling of accomplishment (not just after the race, but after each training run.)
    2. I ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot one year with a knee injury. I ended up having to take several months off after that...so, like you said, I never should have even shown up. (But who can resist!???)
    3. I once met Patrick Dempsey before a 5 mile race in Elkhart Lake, WI!!! He wasn't running. I did get a picture with him!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I went to college with Chris Farley. He was not a celebrity then, just another drunken student. One night we were all at a bar and I felt someone bite me in the butt. Hard. It was Farley. Apparently we had words (I may have had a drink or 2 myself). The next morning when I got up, I had a huge bruise on my butt, which lasted for a week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You forgot one! At some point (after you cross the finish line), you will be sobbing.

    Okay so I have run 3 marathons. I swore I would be done after that last one, but after a lot of blogging and hemming and hawing, I decided to run another, the Rock n Roll Raleigh, in April. No regrets, and I met Gavin DeGraw, my favorite singer, a number of times over the past few years because I follow him around on tour!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've only done two marathons but I love the memory of them and hope to do more. Nothing like it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am training for my first! And your list excites me, but also scares the crap out of me! I can mentally know what I am in for, but really I can't even fathom it yet. The unknown is scary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie I am in the same boat. I did my 20 last week and it was hard!!! I am scared to death!!

      Delete
  7. This will be my 4th marathon and my 2nd LA Marathon in a row. You will LOVE the spectators. Be aware that once you get on Sunset the cheerleaders are drag queens! And running on Rodeo Drive is really cool. I liked the quote about making a decision if you're going to give it your all or not. Some races I decide that I don't care about my time and walk more. Others, I push myself. You don't know what you'll do until you get out there. I regret that I worry about my time in some races and don't enjoy the environment, views and people. I live in So Cal and don't see any celebs. I met Kevin Costner at a golf tourney. Have a great trip to So Cal. It's gonna POUR this weekend!!!! Hope it's nice on race day!

    ReplyDelete
  8. During my first marathon, I got nauseous beginning at mile 9. At mile 17 I seriously thought about quitting, but then I got into a rhythm of 100 steps walking, 100 steps running and I finished, albeit more than an hour later than I had planned. I walked most of the way to the car, and then got too tired and laid down on a retaining wall. When my husband got there with the car 5 minutes later, I was already wondering when I could go for a run, even a short one. It's seriously addictive. I haven't run a step in 9 months now (plantar fasciitis and a bone spur) but OMG how I want to do another marathon. Gonna have surgery this spring and then get back to it. Have a great time in LA -- I'm living vicariously through you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've run 66, and I've noticed that it can be a long way if you don't train....

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have run 25 marathons. Once I got into it, I planned my training for at least two or three marathons in advance.

    I regret my second marathon, the 1978 New York City Marathon, when I ran with acute hip bursitis. I knew I was injured going into it, and I should have not even showed up.

    My most cherished face-to-face chat was with Michael Palin in London in 1999. Most of my other celebrity get-togethers were with rock and pop stars in the mid-1970s when I was a music critic at the Boston Globe: Gregg Allman, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Miller, Dave Mason, Grace Slick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. awww, Michael Palin. He seems like he would be so lovely to speak to!

      Delete
  11. We will be traveling from spokane wa to LA on the 10th!. I almost changed everything to run the LA Marathon but its right in the middle of my race schedule...so jealous!! Would love to stalk you at another race someday!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm getting ready to run marathon #6 in two weeks. It's on trails with 4k of vert, so I won't be hammering like I did running Chicago last Oct. I use marathons as a building block to my ultramarathon season or to test the effectiveness of my speedwork. Some ultrarunners poo poo the marathon distance but I've found that if you run them hard, they're tough. I don't get to lollygag like I would in a 100 mile race so I'm running "uncomfortably" after the first 15 minutes. By running at the hardest effort I can maintain all of the way through, they are tough as shit. The best thing about them is that I suffer for less hours, but I suffer nonetheless.

    The only race I regretted was the one I did last December, after a long inaugural year of ultrarunning when I was burned out and went ahead and raced a tough 50 miler in CA. I had an overuse injury and lost so much speed running long & slow all year that I got pulled for missing the 36 mile cutoff. That DNF was the worst feeling of my running career and I hope to never experience that again. I plan my race calendar better now. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes! Everything you listed about what you KNOW you will feel is the exact same as me! Except I don't *always* question why I do it, and I don't *always* want to shit myself. But everything else is always very, very true!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I've run 5 marathons. Some were better then others. I want to run one more since I haven't run one since my kids were born! I probably shouldn't have run the VT City Marathon a month after I ran Boston. I ended up with a sucky time and bronchitis. You are going to kill it in LA if for no other reason then it will be WARM!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have met Joanna Lumley - Patsy in the UK show Absolutely Fabulous. Not really a US celebrity perhaps?

    I'm training for my first marathon now. And I'm starting to struggle with knowing how hard to push myself: when your plan says to run 800m 'fast' - should you be pushing yourself until you want to throw up? Is it pushing hard, but maybe feeling you're at 90% capacity rather than 100%? I don't know!!

    One race regret is that I let the mental side overcome me in a race where I could have performed much better. I was supposed to run it with my husband, who dropped out on the day, and instead of manning up and getting on with it, I was angry and frustrated that I was doing it on my own! Stupid psychology.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I love your list. I can relate to all from doing half marathons, especially the ipod comment!

      Delete
  16. James Spader, in person, his mother was a patient in our office, and talked to Gina Davis on the phone about her mother (also our patient). Both very pleasant!
    Love what you say to your kids! I'm going to try that tonight with my 14 years old.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Boston will be my 8th marathon, 4 of the last 5 were so damn close I had to keep trying. I have never regreted running a race however often question my sanity during the race never after though. Celebrities, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald and Keifer Sutherland (summer home near me).

    ReplyDelete
  18. Two marathons and can't wait to do it again in the fall. Honestly, I don't see myself stopping anytime in the foreseeable future. I LOVE long distance running and while mile 22-24 really kinda stinks, I, too, know I won't quit. I just use it as motivation to get better, stronger, faster for the next one. Gotta take about 13 minutes off to BQ so will spend my summer working on speed!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love that email from your coach. Did she write it or is it something that's being passed around? Can I steal it? :)

    How many marathons have you run? I have run 14 marathons.

    Do you forget about the pain and sign up for another one right away? I always cross the finish line and start planning my next one.

    Do you have regrets about a particular race? Only that I didn't push myself harder....

    Tell me one celebrity you’ve met. Met Lindsey Lohan when she was in Minneapolis to film Prairie Home Companion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think he wrote it, but I don't think he would mind if you shared - just mention it's from Coach Andrew Castor

      Delete
  20. I'm working on my 3rd half marathon... not quite a marathon runner yet, but love your blog. Since starting my "adult onset running" stage (having been away for 20 years between college and the restart), I absolutely see the race events as the rewards, the celebrations of being able to run again.

    Celebrities -- Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, Alison Krauss, Mary Tyler Moore (yeah, I'm old). Not exactly LA-type celebrities, but still fun experiences. :) Have a great time in lalaLand!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that - "Adult Onset Running" AOR.

      Delete
  21. So far I haven't regretted a race.

    I met Kevin Costner and his daughter at a CCR/Beach Boys/Travis Tritt concert at the Buffalo Chip during the Sturgis Rally.

    ReplyDelete
  22. My last marathon was in November, The Brooklyn Marathon. I had a horrible time and was completely miserable. It was marathon number 7 for me and the first time I have ever passed over a finish line and so utterly happy to be "done" with it. My time was diabolical and I felt defeated. I said to myself and my runner friends that this was it... my last. Well, a few months later I get a guaranteed entry into NYC (not because I am fast but because i managed to hang on like grim death for 4 years and got in). As soon as I got the email something came over me, my eyes glazed over and I slowly took out my credit card and paid my entry fee. What is wrong with me? Of course, even the last race taught me some lessons about training, burn-out and just dealing with the fact that not every race is going to be "the one". Sometimes the worst races are in fact the best because they teach us the most about what running is all about. Do I regret each marathon? Hell no. The medal and the experience never gets old to me.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am entering my first marathon this fall, which is scary to me. I have run 3 half marathons, still have a hard time imagining running that far! I met Cal Ripken (Baltimore Orioles) when I was babysitting, had to pickup the child I was babysitting at his house from a birthday party! Even got to talk to him.. he is very tall!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm a little scared to go a full marathon but have run 6 1/2 half marathons. Why do I only have a half of one? Well, in mile 1 I stepped off a curb I didn't know I was on and landed wrong on my foot, heard a terrible crunching sound and pain. Ok, who injures themselves in the first mile?! I was determined to finish and hobble-ran until the halfway point where I couldn't stand the pain any more and had to be transported to the finish. I ran around 5 miles on a broken ankle. My biggest regret in a race was that I didn't pay enough attention to my surroundings and was not able to hobble to the finish line and got a DNF :(

    As for meeting anyone famous, I had a conversation with Wynonna Judd in Barnes and Noble.

    ReplyDelete
  25. The LA marathon will be #24. Why do I keep coming back? It must be the distance. I remember as a kid, being a passenger in a car going from my grandparents' house to our cabin in the woods. It was a 10 mile drive, and it seemed to take forever. Now I run marathons, and every time I'm amazed at the distance - more than 2 1/2 times those cabin trips.

    The celebrities I hope to see in LA - my rockstar daughter (a freshman at USC), and you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. #24- congrats to you!

      My son is interested in USC. Wondering what you and your daughter think so far?

      Delete
  26. LOVE this post!!! you are right there will absolutely be those moments and honestly it's nice to know someone who I think can conquer the world even has those moments :) Don't you just love Deena and Andrew?! Amazing people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually have not met them in person yet, but will in a few days!

      Delete
  27. I've run 52 marathons (working toward running one in every state). I've done several states more than once because I wanted to run other marathons. I don't forget the pain, but keep signing up because I'm addicted. No regrets. I met Pierce Brosnan in the Bahamas and got my picture taken with him. He's just as gorgeous in person as he is on the big screen!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I've run 2 marathons and have no regrets about either. I'm a 5:20ish marathoner, but for me, it's about the experience and having fun along the way and both times I managed to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have run 6 marathons. Don't regret any of them or any other race I've done - although lately I feel regret over not finding the time to sign up for races more regularly, not necessarily marathons. I've met some professional basketball players, before they were professional. I think that's it. Oh - I have met Justice Breyer (in law school) and General Colin Powell gave the commencement address at law school graduation - I didn't technically meet him though. If I were going to LA, I'd want to meet some "real" famous people though!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I am running marathon #10 in less than 48 hours in Phoenix. I don't forget the pain, however knowing what to expect doesn't seem to make it any easier for me. Kind of like giving birth for the second time, I knew what to expect, but that was both helpful and intimidating!

    ReplyDelete
  31. 1: 19 with number 20 this Sunday... Going all out for membership of the '100 Marathon Club' in the UK so I'm booked at 1 a month - I remember the pain, I learn from it and adjust and evolve so as not to experience the same thing twice... In theory!

    2: My first one, on a muddy slippery trail with shoes not up to the job... With 5 miles left I wanted to curl up by the side of the track and cry like a baby as everything ached so much, but I pushed on through to finish it and I know that I will never suffer like that again on a marathon and it has put me on this crazy running path.

    3: No-one of real fame to those outside of the UK, however I sat 3 rows behind Paul McCartney at Brian Wilson's first solo show in London; he just had a normal seat like everyone else and very happy to chat with those around him!

    ReplyDelete
  32. She absolutely loves it. Her major is biomedical engineering, so it's a tough course load, but she is doing fine. Her final two schools were USC and Cornell. She chose to go 2500 miles instead of 250 miles away from home. I've visited twice, and the campus is gorgeous. You should check it out when you are in LA.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I would love to see it. Glad to hear she likes it. Sam is interested in broadcast journalism and I think they have a really strong program.

      Delete
    2. The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is one of the best. There is also an Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, which was actually established 13 years before the Annenberg School at USC. Sam should also take a close look at outstanding programs offered at Northwestern, Syracuse, Boston University, and the University of Missouri.

      Delete
    3. Thanks very much for the info. We are new at this, so it helps to have some starting points!

      Delete
  33. OMG, I totally met Aaron Neville at a jazz concert, and rest assured that I am an even bigger dork than you because I have his freakin autograph. I just realized how really, really sad that sounds....I am throwing away that stupid lanyard and backstage pass with his name on it stat!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Reading the words in your coach's email gave be goosebumps! I'll be cheering for you on March 9 and looking forward to a full recap!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Good luck out there! I just love doing marathons and reading about such great experiences such as yours. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I have run 13- two of those were in an IM so I really don't count them. My favorite of all time has been Catalina Island (did twice) and Pikes Peak. San Fran was good too when they ran you around the city and through every neighborhood. I have met Erin Baker, Scott Molina and Colleen Cannon- triathlete stars from the 80s. I am way older than you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh and I count two of those "marathons" running the Grand Canyon, altho it's really shorter, but the elevation gain/loss makes it seem much much longer!

      Delete
    2. I count 3 of my marathons as the monkey hills marathons challenge that is just for fun, self-timed as a challenge the local trail club measured. i haven't broken 8 hours yet in it as it's super duper hilly, 16;000 feet of elevation gain in the 26.2 and the same for elevation loss. I suppose to love torture :P, then again it's not torture if you enjoy it, huh?

      Delete
  37. This is my first Marathon.. The Rome Marathon. I am scared to death! I just want to finish. I just ran the Rock and Roll Nice France 10 miler and did pretty well. 26.2 Miles so scary. but I am going to do it. I hope I am like you all and want to do another... I met Giles Marini from Brothers and Sisters Hill Harper and Omar Benson cast of CSI .When they came to Italy...They were pretty nice people.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I have run six fulls and plan to continue as long as I can. There is something strangely addicting about the points of anguish and pain that are experienced during 26.2 miles. Talk about a roller coaster of highs,lows and everything in between. God I fricking LOVE it!!! I'm waiting right now to see if I get drawn from the lottery for NYVC and the wait is killing me.
    I've met Hugh Jackman and he is so genuinely the sweetest and sincere person ever. He was willing to take as many pics as I wanted, even in a cornfield on a rural road that we were on during the shooting of Real Steel.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have run 25 marathons and I have been insisting I was retiring from the distance since marathon #5. I just love the feeling of pushing past the sucky parts of the race - you don't quite get that same feeling at shorter distances. Deep down, in my core, I am a not just a runner, I'm a marathon runner. It's what makes me tick even if I wish it wasn't!

    My only celebrity encounter was meeting Joey Fatone from NSYNC as we were approaching the finish line of the 2013 Goofy Challenge at Disney. I was hideously hot & humid and I had received a margarita from my sister at mile 25.5. Joey was carrying a pint if beer so he seemed approachable! He stopped with my friends & I for a hug and a photo op and then crossed the finish line and chugged his beer right there under the sign. It was awesome and bizarre and very very not a Disney friendly

    ReplyDelete
  40. I met Deena Kastor too! She actually won the race (Philadelphia Distance Run or maybe Rock N Roll Philly by then) and was still around the finish area when a snail like me finished. She autographed my Bib for me. That was awesome because it was my PR for a long time.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have run 7 marathons and somehow love the pain and always am thinking about the next one. Weird like that.

    ReplyDelete