If you’re a regular reader of The RunDown, you’ve learned a lot about our fantastic 2011 KeyBank Vermont City Marathon pace team already, thanks to the introductory post each pacer submitted. Now we’re excited to bring you more detailed posts from each leader.
We have a great team of leaders; we hope you enjoy getting to know them. In May we will post detailed information about where and when to meet your pace leader on Race Day (as well as an opportunity to run with them on Saturday, May 28.)
Running in Vermont was especially difficult this winter. If you are sitting in the 802 area code now, you know what I mean! Icy dark snow systems conspired this February against runners, interfering with even the most diligent, patient and stubborn. After work, many New Englanders were greeted by chest high snowbanks, black-ice sidewalks and slush puddles waiting to pour into your shoes. Navigating Burlington was no different, certainly treacherous at times. In preparation for next weekend’s Boston race, I have seen many friends, teammates and runners suffer injury and setback.
Recently, a YouTube video circulated my little social network. We share distractions designed to take our minds off training, ailments and injury. The link below will take you to a championship track race, marking a season’s end and perhaps the pinnacle of athletic careers in the sport. These ladies are seriously gifted, seemingly well-matched, and the race barrels toward an exciting photo finish.
But there’s a twist. Instead, Fate deals a new card and the film becomes a testament to the spirit when the body fails. In a blink – Accident! A runner misses her stride, snags a cleat, and crumples at top speed. She meets the track surface with her face, her race slides to an embarrassing and painful stop. Now bruised and cut, her race is not over, and we watch a transcendent moment, defying both odds and physics to complete the event. In her last 300m, she is reborn- fully owning the performance.
So in context with your upcoming marathon effort, keep in mind the strength of spirit should be as strong, if not stronger, than the fitness built around the body. Training this May should incorporate a “marathon worthy” willpower, to deepen your internal reservoir of positive energy. Long course racing provides us different challenges than a 600m track, but we should acknowledge that the spirit can unlock our potential in each setting. Sometimes allowing us to overcome dark moments, an injury, and just maybe, defy gravity and physics too
Here is a checklist I use for strengthening the spirit for race day.
1. Listen to your intuition in setting meaningful goals for yourself.
2. Make an unshakable commitment to doing whatever it takes to persevere.
3. Use every setback as an opportunity for learning and for self-development.
4. Take total responsibility for your own performance.
5. Recruit able helpers.
6. Develop self-reliance.
7. Identify your self-defeating beliefs. Work tirelessly to overcome them.
8. Use positive self-talk to generate confidence in your performance.
9. Insulate yourself from the negative influence of those who would wish to oppose or to undermine you.
10. Visualize your successful achievement of your goals.
11. Believe in yourself.
12. Trust and draw strength from a force larger than yourself.
Why I am a pacer?
The reason why I became a pacer was initially to pay forward the service that was given to me. After running part of my marathon with a pace group, I was contemplating running my next marathon with a pace team from the beginning. I had a pretty lofty goal of qualifying for Boston and wanted to do everything I could do to hit it. The marathon that I was running, Grand Rapids, offered a 20 mile training run on part of the course about a month before the race. Since I did not know anybody in the area, I started running the 20 miler by myself. A half mile into the 20 miler, my watch quit working. I really wanted to try and keep a certain pace, so I asked a couple people who were running relatively the same pace if I could run with them. We ran for a bit and as our group dwindled from 7 to 3 we got to talking more about the marathon. It turned out that one of the guys I was running with was a pacer in the 3:14 group. Needing a 3:15:59 to qualify for Boston, I thought this would be perfect. I ran with the pace team in Grand Rapids and everything went according to plan. We started out on perfect pace instead of me going out to fast as I had done in other races. I finished slightly behind the pacers, but got my BQ with a 3:15:10. Without the pacers, I am not sure if I would have been able to do it.
Fast forward a year later and I decided I would join the Grand Rapids Pace Team. We had a great group of people to run with and I enjoyed my first pacing experience more than my successful BQ attempt a year earlier. We had a bunch of first timers get their first marathon under their belt, several hit new PRs, and a few qualified for Boston. The satisfaction I got helping people hit their goals was unmatched and this is why I continue pacing. As many of you veteran marathoners have felt, once you complete a marathon…you are hooked. That was the same for me pacing. I look forward to meeting many of you on the course and having a great day with you.