I hear visualisation is a great tool for athletes, so here's a short but totally realistic daydream:
"What do I WEARRRRR," she wailed, sitting on the floor clutching handfuls of quick-dry polyester and nylon. It was a moment of indecision unrivalled by any date night or job interview. Each time she glanced at the weather forecast the numbers and cloud cover icons seemed to shift - or was the scene swimming through tears? She settled on one outfit, with a backup for colder weather.
That night, her son woke up just twice and went right back to sleep straight away. At 5am, she stumbled to the AirBnB kitchen to gnaw on a cold bagel and rummage through the cabinet for something caffeinated. A warmup jog took her the mile and a half to the subway, and she emerged next to her race corral and got in line behind only two people for a clean porta-potty.
For once she refrained from starting too fast, despite the icy tickle of worry - every time! - that her legs would lock on to the pace and manage nothing more than snail-paced miles the rest of the way. As the course wound through the streets of Pittsburgh, she was entertained by a BLURP from a horn here, the crash of a steel-drum there, and for the final mile, an entire acappella chorus singing 'Rolling In The Deep'.
The race plan went perfectly: slow for the first half, medium for the next quarter, and speeding up to outkick people at the end. She thought of it as Goldilocks pacing - not too slow, not too fast, just right...And with her finish time, she qualified for the Singapore Olympic Trials*. Best of all, the race photographers managed to snap photos of her between Shot Bloks.
* There are no Singapore Olympic Trials for the marathon.
In three days I'll be running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, entering completely new territory for me.
- First half marathon for which I explicitly trained, or at least had a mental training plan tucked into one of the dusty drawers in my head.
- Instant postpartum half-marathon PR. (My silly Type-A self is a little gleeful about this one, not gonna lie.)
- I've never been to Pittsburgh (PGH native Amy is doing the full marathon and we have plans to meet up for all the food - YUM).
- This will be my first half marathon in the US. (!)
- The weather forecast changes every time I blink.
I'll be honest - I hit about 40% of that training plan and 60% was a trainwreck (I haven't done any speedwork or weights in weeks). My primary goal is to give it my best shot, finish happy in about two hours, based on long-run paces, and not blow up. My old half PR is 2:11 and dates back to 2012 because I just haven't run a whole lot of halfs, so I have no clue what to expect.
I'm seriously flirting with the idea of running sans watch, to get that competitive goal-oriented monkey off my back. Part of me thinks that's radical; the other part of me thinks that's radically daft, to pay good money for a half marathon and then not check the time - what?! Plus I want to know my splits. Plus I neeeeeed my watch in order to be on time to the race start. Argh.