Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Enough.
As of last week on Sunday, I had raised a whopping total of $330 for Camp Kesem, the charity I set out to raise $2000 for. I wrote the previous blog post, emailed its text to a targeted list of friends, and posted a link to the post on facebook.
Throughout the week, I received emails from the donation site each time a friend or family member sent money. The steady stream of generosity wore me down to the point that each new email was like seeing a new set of ducks swim for the first time ever. My cold heart was melting a little bit! By Friday afternoon I was just $305 short of my goal, so I promised on Facebook that I would jump in the ocean if I made it to $2k by Sunday morning.
Mid-afternoon on Saturday, I surpassed the goal by $30!
And then the time came to be ready for the next big challenge: 26.2 miles.
One of the things I’ve heard quite frequently in my training with the LA Leggers is that you shouldn’t do anything new or different on the day of the race. While that advice sounds great, the simple fact of the matter is that I didn’t get up at 3am for a single training run throughout the entire training season. Not once during all of my training did I park my car at 3:30am, walk a half mile to the Doubletree hotel, drink a cup of coffee, eat a banana and an orange, and then catch a shuttle bus across town to Dodger Stadium. There was no training run – long or short – before which I ate a bagel and sat in the third base seats buzzing with nervous anticipation for over 2.5 hours before lining up to run.
In all of my training to be a distance runner, I typically climbed out of bed precisely 45 minutes before the run was set to begin, ate no food (except a gulp of caffeine-infused protein shake on occasion, earlier in the season), and showed up to the starting point just minutes before the run began. I drank nothing during my training runs over than one squirt from my water bottle every five minutes. The one time I added a splash of gatorade to my water at mile 13 of an 18-mile run, I found that I felt much more thirsty at the finish than usual.
On the morning of the LA Marathon, I did so many things different. But I felt confident, and I showed up at the starting line with a plan in mind to perform better on race day than my training had prepared me for. I knew that my projected finishing time if I stayed with my Leggers pace group through the end of the race would be 5 hours 15 minutes. This would mean remaining disciplined with a 1-minute walking break at the end of every 5-minute running segment. I was confident I could do this, as I had done it twice for 20-mile runs with the the group. It was old hat for me by now.
If we could do 5:15, why not try to shave a measly 15 minutes off and break the 5 hour mark? I knew it would be incredibly foolish to try to shave those 15 minutes off the front end of the race by going faster than I’m trained to do. Doing so would carry a huge risk of burning myself out and being unable to finish the race at all. But the last half of the race is a different story. With the enthusiasm of the crowds, the buzz of endorphins, maybe a little adrenaline, it seemed like a realistic possibility to stop talking walking breaks around mile 17 or 18 (based on my math) and shave off that pesky 15 minutes. The beautiful thing about this ambitious plan is that if I discovered along the way that it was just not possible, I could resume taking walking breaks at any given point and still finish in 5:15 or less.
At race time, things turned out differently than expected.