Wednesday, March 16, 2011

LA Marathon 2011 pre-race

as you know, i'm doing the Los Angeles Marathon 2011 this coming Sunday morning.

ordinarily i wouldn't have written much for the usual pre-race post, but there's a number of things that have suddenly made this race a little bit more interesting:
  • the weather forecast is for a storm, with expected conditions to be rain, wind, and temps of 55-60 degrees F (~12-18 degrees C)
  • the longest run i've done is 16 miles
  • in the past 3 weeks, i've only had 4 runs (in 5 workouts): 12 miles, 6 miles, 3 miles, 5 miles
  • my overall fitness routine went to hell, with (in succession within 2 weeks) a sprained ankle, a 4-day trip out-of-town, and an illness that took me out for an entire week
yeah. i know. exactly. nowhere near enough running. definitely not looking good.

finishing isn't the issue. that, i can most definitely ensure will happen. the issue is in what condition will i cross the finish line: happy or hurting or lost on the continuum somewhere in between? this race went from being a routine relaxed enjoyable day to an open question about how potentially miserable i'm going to be.

in response to these developments, i can identify a number of things to help assuage myself.

to begin, i think race conditions are probably a state of mind (you know: if you don't mind then it doesn't matter). not in the sense of being forcefully ignorant, but more in the sense of not obsessing to the point of losing perspective. i remember at Ironman New Zealand the assembled competitors roared out a collective cheer when the race organizers announced during the pre-race meal that there would be a freak storm on race day (freak, as in there were warm blue skies the day before, warm blue skies the day after, but race day was wet, windy, and cold enough to take people out with hypothermia...even the local Maoris were mystified at the weather). i came to love the Kiwi sense of humor in that moment.

i've taken that attitude to heart. race day is a long day, Ironman or marathon or whatever, and it's hard to ever find a day where conditions will be perfect for that amount of time. that, and weather is just one of those things that cannot be predicted with any accuracy in the full year organizers have to lead into the event. competitors just have to accept the weather as part of racing, and deal with it as part of any given race. which means that as much as we expect to enjoy race day, we need to enjoy the weather that comes with it. so right now, given the weather forecast, all i can say is HOOOOOO-RRRAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!

next, i'm keeping in my mind that my expectations for this race are not that high. i never looked at it as a competition for time. i signed up for this specific race with the goal of 1) getting to meet a larger community of recreational athletes and people learning about the benefits of physical activity, and 2) getting to follow a race course that gives me a pedestrian (in scale or pacing) view of major LA landmarks that people ordinarily NEVER see. so i never intended to do this for time, but more for experience.

to that end, i'd planned on carrying a camera to take pictures as i go, and i'd fully expected to walk long stretches of the race. i'm starting to waffle on the former and resign myself to the latter. but right now, i think i still will do the camera thing, and i guess i'll just be walking a little bit more than i'd originally planned.

last, i've done enough marathons (by themselves or within Ironmans) by now that it's not as big a deal as it was before, and so i'm not as fazed by it as a lot of the first-timers probably are. and the thought of 26.2 miles of running doesn't even register in my mind as anything comparable to the distances i've done (say, 140.6), so there's not even really any anxiety on my part.

to a degree, this race hasn't even really sunk in--it's like i'm aware of it but it doesn't even register. about all i can really say to describe my feeling right now is that i'm resigned to a nice Sunday morning social activity...maybe just a little windier, wetter, and colder than i'd originally expected.

of course, having said all this, it still takes a crowd to make a race day. and that means that a personal enjoyable race experience requires that i find people who i can cultivate a personal enjoyable race experience with--and who are willing to cultivate their personal enjoyable race experiences right back with me. attitudes are in good proportion a function of symbiotic collective interactions, and so i need to find other competitors with the same attitudes and expectations that i have.

i sure hope that happens. cuz it really sucks to feel lonely in a crowd of 20,000+ people.

so who out there is doing the Los Angeles Marathon 2011 with me? and just wants a good time (ok, that didn't sound quite right, but you know what i mean...i hope)? can you help a brutha out?


Unknown said...

Im there! Ive had a similar experience with my training the past month thanks to an achilles injury. I was bummed, because I was shooting for BQ time but now im just thankful I can run it at all. It will be a great experience. Heres to health and happiness!

jonathan starlight said...

yaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy!!! health and happiness!!!