Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Floundering Pumpkinfish

My father has always called my "Fishie" as my nickname and sometimes "Pumpkin" which awesomely enough became "Pumpkinfish."  This is totally the coolest nickname in the world, right up there with "Stephanator."  Maybe in retrospect then, I should have taken up swimming but it really never was my thing.

Regardless, I have been floundering helplessly out there lately on my long runs.  I am very very lucky that my Coach/PT sets up great running schedules for me and listens patiently (yes really patiently) as I nag him repeatedly with question after question.  But there is one question that he just won't answer for me and it is a big one, PACE!  Our conversations sort of go like this...

Me: Can we talk about pace?
P.T. sort of stands there waiting for me to continue the current rant I am intent on discussing today
Me:  Ok so I am not really sure what pace I should be doing my long runs at for the marathon, or the marathon itself, any thoughts?
P.T.  commences his favorite pace speech here: 1st mile is your slowest, 2nd mile is your second slowest but a little faster, third mile is your third slowest but should be faster than the other two.  Then settle into your pace at Mile 4ish
Me: So no negative splits?
P.T: No, I would have you speed up way before the half point at Mile 3/4
Me: And then what, just keep it up at that pace?
P.T: Yup, pick a pace that you know you can maintain for that distance
Me: AHHHHH What pace in the world is that?!?
P.T.: Just do you best
ME:  AHHH Just give me a number man!!

Yup, we have had this conversation multiple times. It kind of reminds me of when I was trying to gain weight (yes gain weight) at one point and I had the following conversation with my nutritionist

Me:  But how much do I have to gain?
Nutritionist: I am not sure we will see how it goes
Me:  But what if I blow up like a balloon?
Nutritionist:  You won't your body has a set point, a happy place
Me:  What is my set point?
Nutritionist: I don't know trust your body it will find it
ME: AHHHH!!! Just give me a number lady!!

When I was in law school, I struggled to live in the grey.  I wanted the black and the white. There had to be an answer, THE answer.  The thing with law school, however, was there is always two sides, so you are always perpetually in the grey.  It is something it took me a long time to come to terms with.  It also took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that if I fed my body properly, it would find a healthy set point (my body did btw) and it is still taking me a long time to accept that my P.T./Coach does not want to give me an exact pace for my marathon. 

How can I not have a pace you wonder? How will you know how not to go out too fast you wonder? What will you put on your pace band you wonder?  I wish I could answer your questions because I am wondering the same things!  I know, I know there are wonderful pace calculators to look at and I have spent way too much time looking at those things.  And yes, I have been experimenting, sort of, with different paces on my long runs and yes, I may even decide to wear a pace band (giveaway coming soon!)  but will I really know what I am going to do? No, not until race day.  I don't know how I will feel until then, no clue how my legs will be.  Right now I am just hoping to make it safely to the start line and then safely to the finish with a big smile on my face. Because that is really what this has been about for me. My goal right now is to run a marathon. And as much as I am yearning to do it for time, any time will be a PR!  I need to trust my body and trust my coach and just let go, just a little bit (hah, my husband is laughing his head off right now knowing I am totally incapable of this).

But I am going to try because as a wise lady once said:

One thing I can promise you is this, you will be smiling when you finish and if you flame out, you flame out - hydrate and take energy, shot blocks or whatever you need, walk it off if you have to and pick it back up, even if it's a slow jog [just do what you have to do to make it to 26.2]

Well here's, once more, to 26.2 - whether it takes 3 hrs (HAH), 4, or 6. I will see you smiling at the end!

Anyone else every struggle to determine their pace and goal times?  How did you deal with it? How did the actual event turn out?

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