Monday, January 20, 2014

Sideline Report: Chevron Houston Marathon 2014

The Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon are two of my favorite events. Not because they are the courses where I ran my respective PR's-which is awesome-but because it is a well-run, well-supported event and it has what many a runner can only describe as "that feel". Big fancy oil and shoe sponsors and 25,000 runner field aside, I have always seen this race as a runner's race: fast times, rubbing elbows with the best in the world, and of course, good friends!

This year will likely go down in my memory differently that previous ones. For starters, two of the athletes I currently coached notched substantial PR's. It is a satisfying and rewarding experience to see them rocking along my mile 8 vantage point and get hugs and high fives from smiling girls. In fact, as I was out watching all the friends, acquaintances, and strangers perform this yearly ritual through some of the most attractive parts of Houston, TX, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the weather was, how good many of the athletes looked, and again, my love and desire to compete in this sport was galvanized. Galvanized and a bit electrified by watching the passing competitors of the USA Half Marathon Championships seemingly flying down flat and fast Montrose Blvd. 

Amidst the expo vendors, various conversations, watching the course come together and all the rest of your typical race week activity came a mindset change. Actually, this mindset has been present all cycle, but actually being in the environment at the GRB confirmed it. I need to run a marathon again. And I want it to be this one.

Walking back to the car from the expo this thought kept running through my mind:

I really want back in the game. I don't have to be the star player, but I really want to play and give it my best. 

Why? I even asked myself that. Why not try one that I've never done before (I've only run 3-so the sky's the limit!!)? Why not try a smaller one where I could podium? Because, I want to run the big one-in front of everyone I know and have raced before. Because I'm not afraid anymore. In fact, I felt the chip in my shoulder grow deeper each time I viewed a different part of the course, and the memories came back-this time, I wasn't feeling sorry for myself of frustrated, but content with a new sense of control. I want to defy basically my own and my perceived expectations by just running the 26 and change in order to "experience it for all that it is". To put it crudely-I want to tell doubt, rigid pressure, burdensome expectations, and the confusion of where I stand as a competitor "screw you". Esoteric much?! Sorry y' race emotion on different level.

Okay, so let me break it down a bit more: of course, like any (uber)competitive person I want to do well, but I've been doing a lot of work mentally to have a more flexible criteria for myself in how I define a good race. The clock, while necessary in the sport, needs to be de-emphasized, and the process of running and executing to the best of my current ability and fitness level is the only way to a satisfactory recording. Of course I have to get into this crazy popular race, train smarter than I ever have before, and be prepared for progress to not be in a straight line. I do not plan on making the marathon necessarily a mainstay, but I do want to challenge myself with it every now and again. No past time is to define me.  And yes, a BQ is a top priority-I would be a liar if I was to say "well, I just want to get out there and run...". If I were to have any goals for the next step, punching my ticket would be the criteria. The rest? Well, still unwritten. And it should stay that way for a while.

It's kinda fun being in this unpredictable state after nailing consistent base training. This, to me, is what racing is about, approaching it more fresh and less jaded. There is nothing like getting out and just moving through space, feeling graceful and in control. Is it always going to feel that way? I wish. Does it feel that way now. Absolutely. And I'll go with that!

Now that I've discussed something I want to do literally a year out-I have a 5-miler coming up soon. I only have recently added anything fast, but I'm ready to just get out and throw down a solid, consistent, effort. I want to place well, but most importantly achieve the process goal of running a smart race with fairly even splits, at least through the first 3ish miles.  Then I'll continue to gradually work on speed. The good news is, it no longer feels so foreign and not as taxing. Progress, I'll take it.

Stay the course.

1 comment:

L.A. Runner said...

I have only one word in response to this post- BOOM!!!!! So proud of you! And I can't wait for you to ROCK 26.2!!!!