Saturday, November 08, 2008

Don't Watch Me

5 years ago I ran my first marathon, the 2003 Disney Marathon. Man, was I dumb!

I loosely followed one of Hal Higdon's training programs, running 3 times a week while also training in karate and teaching some fitness classes. My longest sports-related event to date was a 4-hour black belt test. We were not allowed to consume anything but water and I'd assumed the same was true while running marathons. A marathon was surely even more a test of endurance and eating something would sort of be like cheating, wouldn't it?

Before Disney, I'd run 2 other races, a half marathon and a 5-miler, but never paid attention to what other runners did. My sister, Jade Lady, who had run many more races and was also running Disney, mentioned that runners often used gels and sports drinks to keep going longer and stronger. They did???

Well, I'd already done all my long runs with just water and only had enough time to be confident that my stomach could handle a 50/50 mix of water and Gatorade. To take the pressure off, I decided it was better for me not to wear a watch and run by feel as I did in training. I lined up in the corral they put me in based on my half marathon time (my first race), ran a pace I thought I could hold for 26.2 miles and crossed the finish line in 3:33:32. YOWZA!!

11 months and 6 marathons later, I finally broke 3:30 after pretty much giving up on that goal and relaxing for my last race of the year.

So what did I learn in my first year and a half of racing?

For one thing, I often perform better when I least expect it. I can put so much pressure on myself sometimes that it backfires and makes me not want to race at all. I need to keep things fun and give myself lots of opportunities so no single event has too much weight. And since this weekend is my birthday, I'm going to give myself a present. I'm going to leave my watch behind at Miami Man. Maybe I'll surprise myself again. Either way, it's going to be a fun race!

PS - I chopped off a pound of hair yesterday :-)

25 comments:

TJ said...

Good luck in Miami!

RoadBunner said...

Everyone's getting haircuts! Wish I had done mine when I was still swimming. Good luck!

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Happy Birthday! Best wishes on your watchless race. And cute 'do!

lizzie lee said...

Dear Shirley... first than anything HAPPY BIRTHDAY... I am Scorpio too (one more week). I may give myself the same gift that you are giving to you as this weekend long run was no good.

Enjoy your race, and share with us your experiences as you usually do through your magnificent reports...

sincere-lee
lizzie lee

Stef said...

Shirley GOOD LUCK AT MIAMI MAN! I'm sure you will do great! Congrats on keeping it fun!

Kevin said...

Good luck tomorrow!! Have a great race!!

COTY said...

Happy Birthday !
Good for you ~ tossing the watch.
Just enjoy :)

Sunshine said...

Hope you are getting a good sleep by now.
Wishing you a fun race and
Happy Birthday.

Girl on Top said...

Love the haircut! Want to chop off my hair too! My mom is going to cry.

Great job on breaking 3:30!

RBR said...

Can't wait to read your Miami Man report! As always, have fun out there and kick some boo-tay!

Petraruns said...

Happy birthday honey! What a gift to take the pressure of yourself. Best wishes on your race - you just go out there and enjoy yourself.

Isn't it strange how self-sabotaging our expectations can be?

Shannon said...

Love that your leaving the watch behind and love even more that you chopped your hair off!

Girls with short hair...Rock it!

Happy Birthday, your an inspiration to me. :)

Bruce Stewart (施樸樂) (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

Happy Birthday and hope the Miami Man race goes well which I am sure it will. A few months ago my wife Jocelyn shortened her hair, but fortunately like you she did not cut it really short. Short hair is not for everyone.

Susan said...

I noticed the hair! WOW! So what brought this on? WOW!

I totally agree about putting too many expectations on one race. Right on!

Happy Birthday. I can't wait to hear about your weekend!

Maddy said...

Happy Birthday!

Have fun in Miami! That's what it's all about right? The fun!

Cliff said...

Shirley,

How did you do? Thanks for sharing your experience. Often, we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves and become critical.

Is ok :)..i think we all htink we can run a 3:33 in a mary until we are humbled by the distance :D

IrishBlue said...

Look at it this way, you're bound to be lighter without the hair and watch...lol. Let us know how it goes.

KodaFit said...

Happy Birthday from me as well! I would wish you a successful race as well, but I just checked the MiamiMan site, and it looks like you did quite well!! Nicely done, and looking forward to hearing how it went.

Femin Susan said...

Hi,
Enjoy your race, and share with us your experiences as you usually do through your magnificent reports...
Good luck tomorrow!! Have a great race!!

MarathonChris said...

Happy Birthday! Looking forward to your race report!!

CewTwo said...

I got a haircut! Course, I do all the time, so it probably doesn't count.

I've pretty much decided to run Las Vegas!

peter said...

Starting off at 3:33! Wow. You're right, when you least expect it good things happen. I was stuck on a plateau of 4:16 and had given up hope of breaking 4:00 when I did the Goofy challenge as a wayu to do a "poor man's ultra." Unexpectedly, I came in at 3:53 a day after a HM PR, my big breakthrough b/c I wasn't expecting anything.

Jade Lady said...

Well, sounds like leaving the watch behind did the trick! congrats.

Karen said...

Ok I have to ask--what type of Karate did you study?

Runner Leana said...

A pound of hair! Holy smokes!

Wow, a pretty fantastic performance for your first marathon!