Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lead-up To Fontana Days Half

Breathe deeply.

That's all I have to do on Saturday. Well, in the hours leading up to Saturday anyway. That's when I'm running my next race, the Fontana Days Half Marathon. It will be my first race since the Diamond Valley Lake Marathon on April 9, and also my longest run since.

For several reasons, I'm coming into this race in a less-than-perfect mental state. Consider...

* I've been running a lot fewer miles than I am accustomed to. In April, even running a full marathon, I ran 75 miles. In May, I ran 85.

* I've only gotten in two long runs in my training for this race - one 10-miler and one 12-miler. And neither was what I'd call a memorable, confidence-boosting long run.

* I'm carrying extra weight. Ugh. I guess that's what happens when I run less than 100 miles a month.

* My damn chest hurts. My wrist and knee are, for the most part, okay, but the longest-lasting side effect of my recent bike spill is my chest. It comes and goes, but Thursday the discomfort has not been going away.

* I ain't gonna sleep on Friday night. I have to cover a game that starts at 8. I rarely get home less than five hours after kickoff, so that would put me back in my bed after 1. I have to be at the finish line before 6 a.m. to pick up my bib and get on a bus to the start line, so that gives me about 4.5 hours to sleep, and that's if I'm lucky.

* About the only thing going for me is the weather. It was supposed to have been in the mid-90s but now it looks as if it will be quite a bit cooler than that. So, score a tiny victory for LB.

* Also, the course is all downhill so it's not exactly demanding.

I usually feel nervous and anxious before races but usually I have good training to fall back on. I can usually reflect on what I've done during my training and gain confidence. But this time around, my training is exactly what is making me feel under-confident. Ideally I would have logged over 30 miles a week during my training and would have gotten in 4-5 double-digit runs.

But still, this is yet another learning experience. Just as I know first-hand how beneficial proper training and nutrition are in preparing for races, I will also find out what it's like to come into a race under-prepared. I've done that before actually, prior to my first half marathon ever (Run Through Redlands '09) and a 10K I ran in early '09 as well. I finished the races but neither were great efforts.

Still, I have goals for this race. Adjusted goals.

Goal No. 1 - Finish in under two hours. For all my doubts and hang-ups, I think I can still accomplish this. The course is downhill, and I have to believe that I can at least maintain a 9-minute per mile pace.

Goal No. 2 - Finish in under 2:14:50. This is my slowest half marathon time, my first half ever, and the only half which I ran in more than two hours.

Goal No. 3 - FINISH!!!!

Either way, I have faith in myself. Proper training or not, I can do this. I consider myself a marathoner, a runner, and I have learned a lot by completing all the races I've done. I have, after all, run two full marathons this year already, and even though I've not run as many miles recently as I would have liked, I've still logged more than 540 miles in 2011.

I have a strong will and am determined, particularly in races. I tend to ramp things up in races and perform to the best of my talents. Mentally, I know that no matter what happens, no matter how little I sleep or little I've run, I will still be confident once I am the start line. I can't promise you that I will feel confident at any point from now until then but once I'm there and once it's showtime, I will be.

And while my training is all but over for this race, there is one thing left to do to help me prepare for Saturday:

Breathe deeply.


Kerrie T. said...

Out of all of that. The sleep thing sounds the worst. Just relax and have fun. Maybe you can sleep-run. I sort of tried it today on a straight spot -- just closed my eyes and ran. On second thought, maybe that's not such a good idea.

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Brotha you're a marathoner! This is in the bag for you ... but I totally understand to concern. Good luck, you'll be great as always.