3 weeks ago, I was so disappointed with hitting a Personal Record at the Inaugural Suffolk Half Marathon. At the start of the 2015 season, my goal was to crush the New York City Marathon with a 3 hour and 45 minute race. My training thus far had me on track to come close to 3:45 (8:34 per mile pace), but as the long training runs progressed my endurance at longer distances began to decline and harder to maintain the goal pace that I set my expectations at.
So, going into this new race, I planned a sub 2:00 race (9:00 minute mile). I looked forward to hitting my goal. Everything started just fine. I warmed up with a 3 mile run and even had a chance to use a real restroom before the start gun shot. However, every time I looked at my wrist after that start, my Garmin, kept adding numbers to that 9:00. Then at the turnaround point at the St. John’s University Annex (Formerly LaSalle Military Academy) in Oakdale. I mentally tossed in the towel and gave up. I felt so disgusted that I did not even attempt to reset myself and do my best. Then for the first time this season, my calves cramped up around mile 10. It really went all downhill from there, not in the elevation of the course, but in my performance and self-confidence.
I crossed the finish line with a 2:07:02 (9:41 pace) with a grimace and unhappiness. Thinking I my best would never be good enough. Actually, giving up all hope to even attempting a 3:45 marathon ever..
After walking around in self pity, and talking to my Coach, Danielle. She said, “You can’t dictate the pace.” All I remember was that I was thinking that my body can’t handle this distance regardless of my training. Even though I have done 10 marathons and an Ironman. I really suck at running! I struggled with running when I started and even with vast improvements with my running over the years, I felt like I will never hit my ultimate goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
After a few days of recovery, I headed into the NYRR 18 Mile Tune Up Run with my friend Wolfgang. It did not start good as Wolfgang asked me how will I be tracking my run. I looked at my left wrist and apparently my watch was still at home. I stayed calm and loaded MapMyRun onto my phone, so I can have some data for analysis and for my coach to review.
Since I could not see my pace with my phone tucked into my pouch, I was glad to see the race had pacers and I looked for the 4 hour pace runner. The cool thing is that the pacer I found happened to be Otto Lam (not family related LOL) Anyway I know Otto from a different race, but you can read more about it if you Google “Run with Noah Wineglass” for more details.
I stuck with Otto for about 6 miles, on pace at a 9 minute mile, and I even pulled ahead. Then around mile 10, I started to feel tired. Mile 12, Otto caught up to me and passed me then around mile 14, both calves started to cramp up along with my hamstrings. Despite the setback, I felt calm and kept on walking as fast as I can for the next couple of miles. This time I did not give up. With every few minutes of walking, I tried to pick up the pace and each time I would cramp up. I would try to ramp again only to keep walking.
Eventually, a Team for Kids Mentor, Karena, caught up to me and stayed with me for the next 3 miles. We chatted the whole time with a couple times trying to run, only to cramp up. Finally at the final mile, I gave it one last go to run, and this time my legs let me finish strong through the finish line.
The following week, I had a scheduled 19 miler only to be cut short at mile 10 with cramps. This is not Good, but it was smart that I stopped.
Despite having the worst performances of 2015, I was delighted with what I did. I was calm and more importantly I did not Give Up. The words from Coach Dee, “You Can’t Dictate the Pace.” finally sunk in.
So many factors go into a race, that we can not control, everyday we awake to a brand new day with unique circumstances beyond our control, Temperature, Wind, Viruses… At the same time, there are many things that we can control. In our circle of influence, we do have a lot of say over how we view a situation. With that in mind, I had the best 19 miles this past weekend, literally and mentally!
This slice of my life reminded me what would I say to my kids if this happened to my kids. In fact, I see this happen with my son, who puts a lot of pressure on himself and I can see when he gets disappointed. I always reminded him, “Did you do your best?”
Success is not a Goal. It's the Journey that You Take. 4 Weeks Until the New York City Marathon!!!
Again, thanks for your support with my endeavours and more importantly your support of giving kids a healthy head start to life. Please be generous at https://www.runwithtfk.org/Profile/PublicPage/7701