47 seconds

Forty seven seconds is not that much time, although at the same time it feels like an eternity.
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I have continued to reflect on my race in Rotterdam and my main consensus is I was not in the zone. Immediately after starting the race I was thinking a lot. When you get in to that flow state it is like there is nothing else in the world except you and the task at hand. I definitely had many other thoughts. Such as: ‘my foot hurts’, ‘there are a lot of McDonalds ads’, ‘keep it smooth as butter’, ‘try to feel the current’, ‘why aren’t I feeling the current’…etc.  The most difficult part about this is that if you have experienced this flow state you expect it will happen every time. And you spend half the time trying to force yourself in to feeling that way. Which as it turns out does not happen.
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I had thoughts about being disappointed with the race. It was a weird head space I was in and I am not sure why, I would almost describe it as being in a mood. But maybe I need a better pre race routine to help get me in to that flow state. I will definitely continue to work on this. It is so interesting though because I honestly do find myself quite in the zone during my long runs/workouts and regardless as to how I feel I seem to always be able to push through it and hit the prescribed paces. So why could I not do it in this race? This is definitely something I will work on. I guess the difference between long run and races is long runs I get up and go whereas a race I wake up 4hrs before. And maybe I need a bit more of a practiced routine for that.

I was very self aware the whole time as well almost in a ‘mood’ and I don’t know why. I was so excited to race. I truly felt confident going in to this race. This was the hardest training cycle I have taken on. Every Sunday after my long run I had felt like I had run a marathon— so sore and would take naps which is something I have never done in the past. I don’t know… maybe it was too much!  Just kidding I loved the training!!
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As I have talked about before I am a very goal oriented person. And this means I like to follow a plan. I wrote a blog earlier in this training cycle on myself being married to the plan and as it turns out this plays true in the race setting as well. I was set on my plan and rather than reassessing the situation and racing to how I felt I tried to force the plan regardless. And if you have noticed forcing things in life typically does not play out the way you want it to!
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So in hindsight I probably should have backed off my pace to 3:45-3:50 off the gun rather than the 3:40-3:45. My reasoning in my head was I would at least give myself the opportunity to try to do something big and if it does not happen at least I set myself up to succeed.  But had I backed off a bit maybe I would have found a group to run with and not left myself in no mans land for a lot of the race.  As I have mentioned Rotterdam was a great marathon although I did find myself alone for the majority of it. Which is tough as well but again not an excuse.  This post is not meant to be an excuse to why I did not hit my goal rather just a reflection on where I can improve in order to come back stronger and hit my goal next time.

One thing I had forgot in my last blog is my left calf felt like it was on the verge of cramping in the second half of the race. This made me hesitant to push fast as well, not that I think I could have regardless.

And it is quite arbitrary when you break it down. What is 47s? Would I ultimately be happier with my performance if I had of run 2:39:59? (*the answer is obviously yes). But I also have to take in to account that they are just numbers.  And the fact that I improved on what was a big break through race has to be acceptable.
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I do believe this is ultimately preparing me for something bigger that is still to come. I most certainly will continue to work hard in order to be ready when the time does come.  But this does not just happen to me. This happens when people take risks. And I truly believe the only way to know your true capabilities is to put it all on the line.

So what is the plan of attack now? As I am obviously ready to get back at it. I took the majority of the first week post marathon off to enjoy my #postmarathonvacay which was lovely. I then did a week of easy runs totaling 50k.  The following week I tested the legs on a fartlek.  And this last week I did an actual interval session (7x1k).
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I want to emphasize the importance of recovery whether your goal was hit or not. It can be easy to jump right back in to training out of frustration but you have to respect the training cycle. We must come down in order to build back up again. We cannot continually keep pushing forward and make gains. Also mentally it is important to give yourself a break. Training requires a lot of physical but also mental power so it is important to give your physical and mental being a break.
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Plan going forward will be to race more with the goal of racing by feel not a plan and overcoming the fear of not hitting a goal.

One of my overarching goals for the year was to learn to run without fear so it is frustrating that I ultimately raced out of fear. But there is always room to continue to improve.

I think it is important to reflect but also to find the positives out of the experience because after all there is always something to learn.
So here are the positives:
-I completed a marathon faster than I ever have
-I was the tenth female on the day
-I recovered fast
-I felt so much love and support from the whole running community (so HUGE thank you!)
-gut and fueling went well with no GI upset (so happy to have finally figured this out— except powergels are no longer so back to the drawing board bahhh!)
-raced for the first time out of continent
-managed well with the travel— all the more reason to travel to more races 😉
-got to have a lovely vacation after the marathon

All in all lots to be happy for but also lots to light a fire under my butt to keep training hard! I will get that sub 2:40 one day!!! In the meantime it is time to practice pushing through the pain cave and racing.
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CONGRATS to everyone who ran the Mississauga, Toronto and Vancouver marathons this past weekend.  Be sure to reflect and find the positives in your performance whether your goal was hit or not.

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