Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Deep thoughts... by Willie

Part 1, Respect the Distance

I attended the Landrunners club meeting on Monday night and heard some wonderful advice from experienced marathoners to first time marathoners. I didn't feel myself worthy to give any advice since I am still learning the tricks of the trade myself. I picked up a few tips that I may try for my next marathon. I say for my next marathon because the A-#1 rule for marathons is don't ever do anything that you haven't done in your training runs. The body is a wonderful thing but it can never be counted on to react the way you think it should. So if you haven't attempted something before during the training, don't try it in the marathon.

After the club meeting I had a nice conversation with Reese and My Hero about marathons and marathoning (not sure that's a word). Reese made a comment that I can't get out of my head. We were talking about how difficult the marathon is and how you can have great training, be totally prepared, and it's still hard to put it all together and run a good marathon. For instance, right now I can easily run a 8:00/mile pace for 15 miles. I know it because I ran just a little bit faster than that in the Beacon on the Bay. Ok, so I can easily predict a 8:30 pace for the marathon right? It's only 11 more miles and I get to run :30 seconds slower so, no problem right? WRONG!!!! The marathon is so long a distance that it takes so many things to go just right in order for the race to go well.

In engineering we like to identify all the risk factors and develop a plan to deal with them. If they can't be engineered out of a solution we at least must identify them and reduce the probability of occurrence or the severity of the impact to a manageable level or we must continue looking for a solution. In the marathon it is almost impossible to even identify all the things that could go wrong, let alone deal with them!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, unlike shorter distances, the predicted outcome of a marathon is not linearly predictable from the training. You can't say, oh I can run a 1:40:00 1/2 marathon so I am sure I can run a 3:20:00 marathon. Yes, theoretically you can! BUT give it a try, Jack, and I bet you'll change your tune. That's not to say that training is not beneficial. It is but, in the marathon, there is no assurance of even finishing, let alone running a predictable time.
I wish I could take credit for the phrase "RESPECT THE DISTANCE" but it was Reese who said it last night and I love it. It seems to embody why I love and hate the marathon so much. 26.2 miles is a long way, many things can go wrong. If you don't respect it you will be bitten and it can hurt. That's why everyone who runs a marathon is to be respected. I'm not sure I understood that until I did one. Being able to say I'm a marathoner is something I'll treasure forever and I hope, if you've done one, you hold your head high and take pride in what you achieved.

Hope this wasn't too preachy, if it was it was more for myself than for anyone else.

Did you catch the women's Olympic marathon trials? What a race, I was so excited when Deena was catching Magdalena. What a difference in strategies and it seemed to work for both of them. Magdalena didn't win but she ran HER race and it work for her to qualify! I love that. Run your race regardless of what the others were doing. She knew she needed to run sub-2:30 and that's the pace she set out on. That takes guts to leave the pack and trust thyself.

3 easy miles tonight, stretching, Planks, and an ice bath. Still looking for the massage this week.

Thanks for listening.


Southbay Girl said...

Will you designate mile 22 or 23 to me??? Those are always the hardest for me!!

Run Willie Run!!!

Calyx Meredith said...

I don't think your post was preachy at all - or maybe if it was, I needed to be preached to. I'm in awe of you marathoners and am just starting to think I could ever get there. I LOVE the idea of designating certain miles for certain people/remembrances! I am honored to be on your list! HONORED!

I did not get to see the trials but I read about them. The write up was pretty interesting, but I wish I'd gotten to watch them actually RUN.

Best of luck this weekend! (I'll probably say that another time or two this week - hope you don't get sick of hearing it!)

Reese said...

Nice talking to you Monday night. Of course nothing I said was orginal, just things that I have picked up from people much more experienced than I am. SF is out for me, I checked the date and my family reunion is that weekend.
Both the Boston trials and marathon were great on the womens side. A fantastic finish in the marathon. Also, Versus (Cable sports network), showed the Paris marathon this past Sunday. Another outstanding womens finish. The woman that won had lost her form and looked terrible, yet she dug deep and regained the lead and won.
You'll do great Sunday.

Maryland Girl said...

Good Luck on Sunday Willie!

Southbay Girl said...

Willie! Have a great saturday before the marathon!! rest!!! We'll be thinking of you on sunday!!!