Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two Weeks To Go = Mental Preparation

Banners line the Burrard & Cambie Bridges
I can hardly believe it, the race is in 2 weeks! I must admit, I'm a bit relieved. The anticipation is getting a bit much, and I'm happy to "get it out of the way". Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly excited! But like every other first-time-marathon-attempter out there, this excitement comes with some nervous anxiety. All the questions that one would expect have crossed my mind, at least once each...Have I trained enough? Am I really fit enough? Will I make it? Will the last 10K hurt? What if....?

But of course the doubt and nervousness does not serve me well. I am good at pushing those thoughts aside as I remind myself of some really important things. I have indeed trained enough. I've worked really hard. Nobody could argue otherwise. I've followed a solid plan, trained intelligently and although I deviated somewhat from it because of the back injury and the bad cold, I bounced right back, and the missed workouts won't make THAT much of a difference.  I really truly am the fittest I've ever been in my life. Today's 13.1 mile training run was "short and easy" when not too long ago, that was the very distance (i.e., a half marathon distance) I was slogging away in training to work up to. And sure, the last 10K of the race might hurt, but I'm tough, strong, and will work through it. I respect a good challenge, but don't give in to them. I will cross the finish and receive my medal. I'll see to it! I will soon have the ability to call myself a marathoner. How cool is that? Why bother with the what ifs...? If this marathon isn't perfect, there'll be others. I know it. One thing for certain - I will finish.

Being in the midst of an extended taper with 2 weeks remaining before race day, my training now is more for "maintenance" of fitness. Training for fitness improvement or physical readiness for the race is minimal now. There are few gains in fitness I can make now that'll actually impact race day. I just have to *stay* primed and ready to go. So instead of the physical preparation at this stage, I am focusing my mind on mental preparation. The athlete begins in the mind, and running is so very much a mental sport. Unlike Edison's thoughts on genius, endurance running, I believe, is a 50/50 split between inspiration and perspiration!

Two weeks ago, I did my last 29km training run which included, running the first 28km leg of the actual race route. On today's 21km run, I included the final 14km segment of the race route. So now, I have run the entire course. I know what to expect on race day in terms of the course itself - there won't be any unexpected twists in the course. I know which parts will be hard physically (where it'll be slightly uphill) and where it will be hard mentally (seeing how freaking BIG Stanley Park is). One variable for race day prep taken care of.

Today's run was particularly awesome because on the marathon course has recently been re-measured. So every km and mile along the course is now marked in paint. So I could see exactly where km #38 would be and imagine what might be on my mind at that point, and know that the finish area would be within sight at that point. At every marker I saw, I smiled and applauded myself for being there. My smile was particularly big when I saw the 40km marker. Doing the route I did today was entirely intentional, and I'm so happy that I did!

It was also intentional to include the Burrard Street Bridge in my route today. Driving into work on Friday, I saw it lined with BMO Vancouver Marathon banners. So I made a point of including running over the bridge in Friday's run and today's run. And yesterday I walked over it twice (that's when I took the photo above). It gives me excited goosebumps every time I see them. And I was pleased to see on today's run that the banners are also on the Cambie bridge as I believe the half marathon route will go that way (not sure). 

2 weeks to go, and 2 weeks of intentional mental preparation I can do. A first marathon really is special, and I am so thrilled to be this close to it!

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