Intentions. I intended to watch the streaming video of Kara’s half-marathon in Chicago in July. I meant to hop online to watch the World Championship events, including the women’s marathon, this August. But I didn’t, and I never got around to blogging about the coverage; and the weekends the elites came to town (for the Healthy Kidney 5k and the Nike NYC Half-Marathon) I of course had immutable plans to be away. Not only was I disappointed at missing out on motivational spectating, but I was disappointed in myself–what kind of fan was I? Add to that the strange mix of feeling snookered and crushed when I learned that Twitter’s @KaraGoucher was an imposter, and it’s been a pretty dry season for me as far as keeping up with the elites.
Remedy. Thanks to EN and LW I am feeling a little bit more plugged into the elite loop again–they both forwarded the Facebook notification that Kara would be giving a Q+A then going for a run with everyone at tonight’s Niketown workout. For various reasons I couldn’t stay for the run part, but there was no way I was missing the Q+A. I needed to hear what she had to say–lately I have been sliding down that slippery slope of discouragement and I knew Kara would help me stop that nonsense. In fact, I was prepared to ask her just that–“how do you train through and past discouraging setbacks”–if given the chance.
Connection. Ultimately it didn’t matter that I was unable to ask her, since her responses to some of the other questions were so thoughtful and heartfelt that I heard what I’d come to hear. When asked to describe the 24 hours before and the 24 hours after a marathon, she literally got choked up and shed a tear recalling the emotions. The night before, she writes a letter to her family talking about the journey of her training; the day after she says she is very emotional as she absorbs and processes what she’s just accomplished, and that when she’s done with a marathon, she has new respect for her body and her self. I was right there with her, choked up and recalling every race I finished in tears, or gulping down the lump in my throat (and not because of a poor time). I remembered that overwhelming feeling and knew with a shiver I wanted to feel that again–that is why I race, because it’s an opportunity to bathe myself in that rare pool of emotional intensity.
Baptism. Kara Goucher, I am renaming you Kara Guru because what you said about how you push through the wall was so true. You said, “It’s just running, you can do it. Your training has proven that your body can do it even though you may not PR but you can finish.” I struggle with that. The idea of training for months, putting myself at risk for injury, only to go out there on race day and flop out, run a third-rate time (for me) is completely off-putting. But Kara, you didn’t concede that you would ever settle for third-rate, rather you demonstrated an attitude to get through a less-than-optimal performance. That was helpful, truly.
Repetitions. It’s exactly 30 days until my goal race, the Baltimore Half-Marathon, which I am hoping to run in Dan’s honor, wearing my Team Fox singlet. I am bagging the Queens Half (on September 20th, which I was going to run as a litmus test for Baltimore), because I haven’t been able to do any long runs as part of my recovery from my re-injury. I’m allowed to run the Fifth Avenue Mile, but not race it. (Really now, what’s the FUCKING point then??) I can’t believe I’m in this place again, where I’m a month from my race and I’m injured and unable to complete training and thinking about dropping it. I can’t fucking believe it–and I feel like a complete jackass, a weakling, and the kind of fool who pays the price not once but twice. Oh, self- recriminating is a pretty constant activity for me these days (wish it burned more calories). TK, you simply can’t run anymore without also conditioning your core, and strengthening the rest of your body. Accept it, integrate it, and lay off the goddamn red wine.
Perseverance. In the meantime, I am keeping Kara’ words in mind, and having faith that when I finally do cross a finish line after 13.1 or 26.2 miles, the emotional wallop will be amplified by the discouragement through which I’ve trained. Right?