Sunday, November 14, 2021

Reflections on Recent Runs: What I've Learned About Myself

Wow. This has been a crazy month. Now that I've had time to reflect, I've noticed a few things about myself.

1. No matter what length the run is, my brain seems to know when I'm close to the end.
When I did the Broad Street Run in October, around mile 8 I started to slow down. I just ran out of steam and couldn't force myself to keep going at a faster (for me) pace. I still finished obviously, but I slowed down those last two miles.

Likewise, during the marathon I started to slow down. Those first 10 miles went really well and then around 13 I started to cramp a little. A quick stop at a first-aid booth and an extra Gatorade, by mile 15 I was back at it. Then when I hit Central Park, I felt myself giving in again.

Based on these two races, I now know it's almost all mental. I wonder if I can trick my brain into thinking I'm going farther so I don't slow down for that last 10% of the course.

2. I can force myself to run through illness, if I know I can't "do it tomorrow" instead.

That's right. On November 7, 2021 I was sick. Earlier in the week, I started feeling congested and although I was treating the symptoms I still felt awful Saturday as I made my way to NYC. I wasn't sure what was going to happen and I was slightly afraid that I was going to have to cancel my participation.

After two years of training and dreaming about this marathon, I wasn't ready to throw in the towel. So I did what any stupid person would do. I took some Advil Cold and Sinus, puffed my inhaler, and made my way to the start line. At mile 18, I called my mom and when I passed her she had a handful of tissues so I could blow my nose.

As I made it back to the hotel and the adrenaline wore off, I really felt it and I was slightly light-headed as I hugged my family goodbye. Almost calling my mom and asking her to turn around and come back because I felt like I had prior to passing out a few years ago. I'm glad I overrated though because I obviously didn't pass out.

When training, I took full weeks off for a slight sniffle. Obviously, I was under doctor's orders after having my wisdom teeth removed, but I made other excuses to skip a training.

3. The crowds are really what makes the difference between a training run and a real run.
When running an organized event, there are people cheering you on. Whether they are family and friends or complete strangers, the energy on the street is extremely motivational to keep me going. I think this is also a key reason why I dislike virtual runs. There just isn't that entertaining energy when you're running by yourself.