I finally started to believe I could do this when I ran a “pace” run (I didn’t exactly pace properly) on Thursday after an insanely long day that was fueled by a Starbucks Ice Venti red eye, a large hot coffee, a large iced coffee and a large cold brew. I was still beat. I started my day at 5:30 am, had a 6:30 am client, went to Reebok in Canton for a little fit modeling from 9-12, back to Equinox for clients from 1-6:30 and had a dinner scheduled at 8 pm. I spent the entire day convincing myself I could do this pace run, especially knowing it was the last one before the race.
The Thursday prior I ran 3 miles at an average of 7:45 so I set that as my goal. I didn’t want to run and have it be shit so I contemplated saving it for Friday morning but I forced myself to get it done because it was on my schedule. Now this wasn’t a normal pace run. I didn’t stick to the same pace per mile. Instead I chose to go balls to the wall and practically sprint my first mile. I knew I had to or I wouldn’t do it at all. Clocked in at 7:08. That is the fastest I have ever run. Mile 2 was 7:30 and mile 3 was 7:44 for an average pace of…
7:31!!!!!! Are you kidding me??!?!?! That is by far the fastest I have EVER paced. EVER. Even when I was training for this race 2 years ago. I was teetering between wanting to vomit and being giddy with excitement. The thing that brought my confidence back was that (granted I slowed down each mile) I could still run when I was dead tired even before putting on my running shoes AND when I had those bad boys on and my legs were tired and I could hardly breathe, I still crushed it.
The entire time I was running I was having a battle with my demons. I told them to shut the fuck up and I won. And I will win on Sunday, IF they show up, which they tried to today. I had my final sprint workout and I can’t tell you how much I didn’t want to do it. It required getting up at 6 am to go in 2.5 hours earlier (half asleep mind you) than I would have had I not had this training scheduled. I almost went back to bed but reminded myself that the race starts at 7 am so I better get my ass out of bed and accomplish this workout.
And I did. I crushed this one too. I did 3×5 minute intervals at a 7:30 pace (8) with 2.5-3 minutes rest, 10x30s on, 30s off at 6:18 (9.5), and 5x60s on, 60s off at 6:40 (9). The shorter intervals were easy. It was the 3×5 minute intervals were tough but considering I did 6 of them last week and the week prior, this week felt like a cake walk. I got off that treadmill and felt so badass. My legs felt amazing, light as a feather even, my breathing was heavy but manageable and what felt like torture two weeks ago, felt pretty damn good today.
I am finally at a point where I can confidently say I believe I can run this 1/2 marathon in 1:45:00. I trained harder and smarter for this year than I did two years ago. There were a few times that I began to doubt myself especially considering I only started training 9 weeks ago after not running consistently for an entire year. Because of this, a lot of people have asked me why I chose 1:45:00 as a goal instead of just having a goal to simply finish it. I tell them all the same thing. If I didn’t have a specific time to work towards, I wouldn’t know how to train, I wouldn’t have worked as hard and every time I wanted to quit a run, I probably would have.
I needed a reason to keep running in those hardest moments when quitting was so tempting and would have been so easy. Whatever the outcome, I busted my ass these last 9 weeks and I am damn proud. I started out running a 10 minute pace for 3 miles. I just ran that at a 7:31 pace. I want to cross that finish line knowing I did everything in my power to accomplish my goal.
I dedicated 17 years of my life to ski racing and there are many things I wish I could go back and change from a run by run standpoint, race by race standpoint and career standpoint. I don’t want any athletic endeavor I do from here on out to be one that I wished I had done something differently, that I had given more or worked harder. I don’t want to regret not busting my ass because I already did that once.
So when people ask if I am just trying to finish, I think back to a quote a teammate said to me when we were in the midst of a particularly hard training camp that I was ready to give up on.
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
I believe because I can. And because I have put in the hard work. I have no choice but to believe.