Thursday, October 6, 2011

Confidence, or the Lack Thereof - the overwhelming theme of race week

This has just not been a good week for me. I won't go into particulars, but it's been rough. And then you add the taper madness of race week, and I feel like I'm going completely mad. Chicago Marathon is now just a few days away.

I have no confidence in my ability as a marathoner, some days in my ability as a runner, and some days in my abilities as a person. A twitter friend talked me off the cliff late late Monday night about my lack of miles in the last month. He reminded me my last marathon 5 weeks ago WAS my long run training for this marathon.

And then I slowly sunk back into the abyss of lost confidence and the anxieties of my life caught back up to me. Yesterday it had gotten so bad that I was feeling like Chicago was just another item to check off the massive task list for the week. And I know that's not really how I feel, or why I signed up. I just have a lot going on, some major decisions have been happening, and I feel engulfed and overwhelmed.

So I watched the drive-through video of the course for the Chicago Marathon 2011. And I then worried that the whole "flat and fast" was going to mean "flat and boring". Even with the crowds. My first 2 marathons had very varied scenery, so the drive-thru scenery looked kinda boring. But then I reached out to some friends going to Chicago also, and asked them if they were ready and were they excited. And I allowed their excitement to overtake me and help me banish the franticness and anxiety and nervousness.

Then last night, I did my 0.7mi slow treadmill warmup and then my strength training workout with my trainer, Jeff. Jeff's been pushing me really hard the last few weeks, but with so close to race day, he went down 10% or so in the weight on everything, like a plate or two on the machines, and took out compound movement exercises, especially since one glute muscle is kinda annoyed at me. And it made it feel SO SO much easier.

After the workout, I decided to get back on the treadmill, which I normally hate to do because my whole body is gumby-like and tired. But I needed a couple 2-3 mile workouts this week, and it was already Wednesday. Well, a half-mile in, I'm bored and crank up the speed. I hate the treadmill and never do more than about 1.5 miles on it and usually it's speedwork. Longer than that makes me want to bludgeon myself to death with my water bottle.

But at a mile, I'm feeling surprisingly strong, so I just decide to hang on. At mile 1.5, I do the math and figure out I'll come in right around my 5K PR if I can keep it up. My 5K PR was set in training in February 2010, pre-baby, and is 32 minutes even.

At mile 2.2, this seems like a bad decision. I'm barely hanging on, I'm sweating bricks, will someone please turn on the air conditioner in this gym? I'm feeling very overheated.

Mile 2.9, and I'm at 30 minutes, and I almost hit the Stop button. And by almost, the fingers hover over the button and I have to use my whole lifeforce to move my hand away. But at 3.1 miles, I hit 31:57. And I know that included the treadmill belt ramping up at the beginning, so 3 seconds better than PR is a ton.

Now halfway through I wondered if this was stupid physically. I kept thinking, "I have a marathon in 4 days." But part of me needed the mental workout. And it worked in a lot of ways. I needed to see how strong I am since I have a hard time believing it without the proof.

I admitted today to friends that I don't feel strong. Live-tweeting each mile in a race gives me a distraction and lets me turn the race into 26 laps. All I have to do is get to the next tweet moment. Steve enjoys the updates, he worries about me terribly, and I get motivation from seeing everyone's tweets back, but man, not feeling strong enough to do it without it is a big feeling. And I expressed once I feel brave live-tweeting because if you crash and burn, you've committed and the whole world sees it. I'm not one of those who would hide it if I walk the last 6 miles in to a finish, I know lots of fast runners though who would. They wouldn't want people to pay attention to their horribly positive splits. So the live-tweeting is a weird mix of feeling strong in one way and feeling oh so weak in another.

So I'm a work in progress, just like everyone else. And man, I just have to keep working at this confidence thing. :-) Thanks for letting me vent.


  1. I have trouble understanding this lack of confidence. You've run two marathons. You've rocked out on trails. Are you planning on a 50K? You should. The step up from marathon to 50K is much smaller than you might expect, especially since you're already at marathon fitness. Going from half marathons to marathons is much more difficult than going from marathons to ultras.

    My training has been shit for months now for one reason or another. Have a look at if you don't believe me. My four races over the summer (three 60Ks and the Vermont 50 miler) have been most of my training. But even with crappy training, am I ready for Cactus Rose 100? Yes. Am I going to rock it out? Shit yes.

    Don't let a few poor days drag you down. Everyone has those. Just shrug them off and keep going, because you rock.

  2. Libby honey, this means you are human. This is marathon number 6 for me and I still feel the way you are feeling. My legs have felt like crap since Heels and Hills and Him. My life has been a roller coaster. My work is crazy. Do I feel ready? No. Do I ever feel ready? No.

    Marathon is a mind fu - - .




    You got this. It ain't your first rodeo.

    Never stop.


  3. Thanks, Jeremy and Suann. It doesn't matter how much training, it's just something inside me I've got to work on. And it's pervasive across my other areas of life, not just the marathon. But Suann, the reassurance is so nice to hear. And Jeremy, I'll be doing Rocky Raccoon 50K November 5. :-)

  4. Oh mah gah, to quote Courtney. This: "I needed to see how strong I am since I have a hard time believing it without the proof" is why I ran Ducks. You just vocalized my entire freaking summer.

    You got Chicago down cold, woman. And we will rock it out at Rocky - those prisoners & gators better be afraid!!

  5. Great informative post thanks for sharing.....