Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Curves Aren't Flat

I am beginning to understand this whole marathoning thing. I once naively thought that you get the marathon you have the fitness to run. This was my first marathon experience, so of course it had to be true! When Boston didn't go as planned, I knew I could blame some of that on the weather, but a lot of it, I thought was my training. So, I fixed my training to get myself some more fitness for the next one. I worked my little butt off all summer. I got the fitness to run very close to a 3:00 marathon. Too bad it takes more than fitness.

As chelle pointed out, luck certainly helps. I might have lacked that a little in Boston and Columbus, but more than anything I lack experience. I can read blogs and pick brains all day but whatever anyone else tells me about their experiences is no substitute for my own: there's no way to flatten the learning curve the way I want to.

This doesn't mean I can't run a marathon up to my fitness level, it just means it's a lot harder. More than any other race, the marathon requires skill and to execute that skill it requires incredible confidence. Without doing it over and over to develop skill and the resulting confidence in said skill, I believe it's very very difficult to race a marathon to the best of one's ability.

Looking back I didn't know what the hell I was doing! Ha! It sounds funny, but I mean it. I have drunk water from a cup while running a handful of times at best. I've eaten a gu while running sub-7:00 pace like three times in my life. There were a lot of firsts in Columbus: first time I took e-caps in a race; first time I ran a marathon in hottish weather; first time I ran a marathon with expectations of placing pretty high; first time doing a two week taper; first time running >65 miles per week, etc. And it's not like I have a whole heck of a lot of other racing experience to supplement my lack of marathoning experience.

My point isn't to explain why I didn't run what my fitness probably says I should have. My point is that marathons are very complex and there's no easy way to run a good one. Just like everything else in life, it takes patience, hard work and determination. Or a hell of a lot of luck!

1 comment:

Joseph P. Wood said...

Yeah, there is no substitute for experience, is there? I think the physical demands of a marathon are only outweighed by the mental ones. You have three hours out there to try to stay above the even-increasing mind static and to make hard, intuitive decisions on race tactics and the like.

There is a certain amount of confidence fitness can breed, but when you toe the line, there has to be something greater and more mysterious than physical ability and that is unflinching self-belief. Sure, there's shit luck involved as well, but I'm convinced the more experience you have, the more you cultivate a resavoir of confidence to draw from.

And the bitch about marathons is that to do them well, you get two shots a year. 10ks, halves, etc. can be done well throughout the year, I believe. However, the immense preperation and dedication makes the marathon's payoff exponential when executed well.

You'll get there Salty. I have no doubt.