After six years of long runs, intervals, races, reading about running, talking about running, recovery runs, cross-training, volunteering, hoping and praying, I'm finally headed to the Mecca of running...the Boston Marathon!
To many runners, "Boston" means the marathon, not the city, and it's every runner's dream to get there. I am especially fortunate to be going this year. Even though I missed my qualifying time by a lousy 4 seconds (how many times do you think I've replayed those last few miles in my head?!), the B.A.A. gave me their blessing just in the nick of time. This is only the second year the marathon has filled to capacity, which was reached in November...way earlier than in February last year. So many of my well-deserving friends were left out, and I'm on a mission to prove to myself that I deserve to be there and re-qualify for 2011!
I've been thinking a lot about which mantra(s) I will use to achieve my goals in the race.
When I ran Outer Banks this fall, I had just finished Born to Run, which features a mantra "easy, light, smooth, fast." I kept that one in mind and it helped me to focus on keeing my shoulders relaxed, my steps light, and my cadence steady as I repeated it with every four steps.
I read somewhere that a marathon should be split into three sections: mind, legs, and heart. This jives with the way I've looked at marathons: a 10 mile warm-up, a half marathon, and a 5K race. This outlook makes extra-good sense in Boston since the first downhill stretch will be all about disciplining myself not to start out too fast, the middle miles will need to be kept fast and strong, and the final third will be all about guts and heart to make it up the hills and stay strong through the finish. The heart portion especially hits home with me since I know I should have drawn on a little more of it to get those last four seconds at OBX.
The hills will require a mantra all their own, and I often think of one from my high school cross country coach when doing hill work. "Light and little", April would call out about our steps up the hills. She coached us to lean forward, keep our elbows back, and focus on our shadown in front of us while tackling them, all the while keeping our steps short and easy.
I often think of a mantra my sister shared with me a while back which applies to running and life - "It's only temporary." Whatever pain or hardship you're experiencing, it's helpful to remind yourself that (most likely!) it's only temporary. This one definitely helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel when the going gets tough in a race.
Finally, there's a passage in the Bible that resonates with me especially during races - Philippians 4:13 reads "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This is a reminder that it is not ME who has control over the race, but God - who gave me this body and the determination to train, who will give us whatever weather He wishes to challenge us with that day, and from whom I will gather my strength on Marathon Monday morning! I often choose one thing to pray about for each mile during a run or race. Normally the first few focus on my own body and spirit, then they open up to other runners and friends and family. If you have a prayer request for one of my miles, please let me know!
If you're a runner or athlete, what mantra(s) do you use to motivate yourself? Even if you're not, are there any mantras you use to get through life in general? I'd love to hear them and may borrow them for the big day!