This past year I have really worked on the mental aspect of running. I have learned to push myself to my limits and then hold on even when my body was saying quit. Last summer, I ran the Around the Lake Marathon in Wakefield, Massachusetts. It was my last ditch effort to improve my Boston Qualifying time as I was afraid my two minute cushion was not going to get me into Boston.
The Around the Lake Marathon is part of a 24-hour Ultramarathon. The marathoners are taking the easy route by only running 8 laps around the lake. It is a 3 mile loop around a lake on a flat path and it starts at 7pm on a Friday night. It was a hot and stormy night and I didn't meet my goal. But, I didn't give up that night. With three miles to go, I was spent and tired. I was not on pace at all for breaking any PR's. The heat got to me pretty early and I had slowed down at around mile 16. Instead of giving up like I was used to, I continued to push myself that last lap and finished in 3:51. At that time, it was my 2nd fastest marathon I had ever run. To clue you in on the condition of my body, I didn't move for about an hour after the race and when I finally did I dry heaved until I was finally able to throw up, the whole way home in the car. For me, that was a victory. :) I had never thrown up after a race and I knew I had pushed my body to its limit that night. I didn't PR, but I mentally ran an amazing race. I proved to myself, that when the going gets tough, I need to stop listening to the negative thoughts and keep running.
On Sunday, I will be thinking of my finish line when things get hard. The weather is looking warmer than ideal, but I am OK with that. I will run a mentally tough race no matter what.
Now I will give you a peek into what silly thoughts motivate me. First of all, food! :) When I am tired, I think a lot of food, especially because 9 times out of 10, I can't even stomach an orange slice at the end of a race. My favorite marathon treat are cinnamon bears. Don't ask me why, but these calories dense, sugar-filled bears are my weakness and I look forward to eating them after every marathon. Now I just need to find a pack before Sunday.
The next thing that gets me to Vermont City Marathon's finish line is the promise of ice cream. Oh, Ben & Jerry's truck, you are a welcomed site at 26.2 miles. I usually grab my medal, waddle through the food area collecting the food in a grocery bag and head to the Ben & Jerry's truck for my carton of ice cream. I usually don't eat anything but the ice cream, but it is such a perfect treat after a hard run race.
This year, I am also headed for the beer tent! I am not usually a beer girl, but Janine from The Purple Giraffe has turned me over to her side. I am looking forward to sipping my beer as I cheer on the other marathon finishers and wait for my hubby to cross the finish line.
And, finally, my #1 motivation to get to that finish line is the beautiful medal and sense of accomplishment. I can't wait to stop at the finish line with a rush of excitement knowing I ran the best race possible. And knowing I already have my Boston Qualifying time for 2013 helps to ease the pressure off seeing a certain time on that clock at the end.