So... it has been a LONG time since I've posted here.
Running summary: ran a 1:42-something at Philly last fall, which made me happy, and qualified me for NYC Marathon for 2010. I am not going to run NYC b/c we are taking the boys to Disney, but it is always good to hit a goal. My half marathon ultimate goal is still to run under 1:40, and I hope to do that this fall.
I was in a car accident in Mid-December, which kept my running mileage down this winter. Trained so-so to hit a 1:45 at Pittsburgh half last weekend, but made a game-day decision to adjust pace due to the weather (hot and rainy). I considered at one point taking a DNF (which I have never done), but hung in there and had a nice run. A nice run, but not a nice race.
ON TRYOUTS AND TRAINING:
Last night my DS#1 threw up at a school event, and the first thing that came to my mind was "oh nooooo... he has hockey tryouts on Saturday". (great Mom that I am) But it got me thinking. DS#1 SHOULD be on the top team in his organization in his age group this year; he has experience, plays his position very well, and is technically sound. Not the greatest player on the team, but contributes . He shows up, works hard, and is coachable. He has worked hard during the off season at his power skating classes, and with his skating coach. (yes, he is 10, and we are crazy, but he LOVES hockey like I LOVE running) So, what happens if he is sick at tryouts?
In my mind, he deserves to be on the top team, but if he doesn't perform at tryouts (for whatever reason) he might not make the team. A whole season of hockey can come down to 2 hrs on the ice. (now I am being a bit dramatic here b/c he is feeling better, and the 2nd tryout hour is next Thursday). But it got me to thinking about training and race day for runners.
One can train perfectly for a race, and, due to race-day weather, illness, whatever, not hit one's goal. Heck- the elites can even hit their goal paces and not win.
And, then there are days when you line up for a race you really didn't train that hard for (granted this rarely happens in marathons), and the pixie dust hits and maybe you end up surprising yourself with a new PR, or AG award. I guess what I'm trying to say is we have to remember no one deserves a PR or BQ because one trained for it and hit the paces in training. It is what you do on race day that gets those magic numbers. There is a difference between training and racing, and come race day we have to put our mental game into play.
Weak mental game = weak performance.
Sure, there are reasons: it was hot, humid, windy, raining; I was sick, I had my period, I didn't sleep/eat/hydrate well beforehand.
But it is how we respond on race day to the heat, humidity, wind, rain, cramps, nutritional issues, etc. that shows what we are made of. Sometimes the wisest course IS to back off, and save yourself for another day. Some days the best course of action is to push through it and gut it out. Only we know our bodies and true goals; we all have to answer to our inner coach at the end of the day.
The time I had last Sunday: 1:50:xx for a half marathon is 10 minutes (and runners know this is a big deal) off my PR set only 18 months ago. Yet, I was pleased b/c I made the right decision at mile 2: back off the pace, run a smart run, and save your goal time for another day. Granted, I did not train particularly hard or well for this race, so my expectations were not high. But at the end of the day, I was happy with my choices that day. Had it not been hot, humid, and raining, who knows what might have happened?
One of my favorite quotes from Teddy Roosevelt is:
DO WHAT YOU CAN, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, WHERE YOU ARE.
Great advice, and it is what I will tell my son tomorrow, and myself on my next race day.