Four pieces of of un-attributed inspiration to carry us all through the weekend:
Fear of failure is only for those arrogant enough to think that somehow they can achieve success without paying the price.
Don’t pursue happiness — create it.
A river cuts through a rock, not because of its power, but its persistence.
Never forget why you started.
This weekend I’m running the Four Courts Four Miler for the fourth time. I wish I’d been part of the inaugural event so I could have a really special streak going, but I’m happy to have found this whimsical local race. The start is filled with Irish cloggers, green everything (especially tutus), and lots of smiles. Partway through the race, an elite runner associated with the local running store that puts the race on will start dressed as a leprechaun, and for each runner the leprechaun leaps, $1 will be donated to charity. Those who finish before the leprechaun will receive a prize item. The first two years I ran this race I beat the leprechaun with times of 36:32.3 (2011) and 37:50.1 (2012). In 2013, after losing much of the weight I gained in 2012, I posted a 36:01, but the leprechaun got on the course merely 10 minutes after the initial starting gun, much sooner than in previous years, so I didn’t beat him that year. That was pretty disappointing, but the race itself was still fun.
This year I’m going into the race in even better shape and much better prepared to excel in the short distance due to all of the fast treadmill running I’ve been doing. I genuinely hate the treadmill, but I respect it and appreciate it for all that it’s done to improve my speed, determination (it’s so easy to quit when I don’t have to run back home, so each moment I continue on the treadmill past the point of wanting to stop is a victory), and mechanics.
I looked up the leprechaun’s 2013 finish time: 24:51, which is 34:51 by the gun. In order to match his 2013 time, I’d have to run 8:42.75/mile on average. I consistently run around 7:45/mile on the treadmill and in the 8:00-8:15/mile range outdoors while wearing a pack and/or my cell phone. Phone free and otherwise unencumbered, I can probably run sub-8:00 miles. I’m very familiar with this course having run it three times previously, so I know how tough it is, particularly the steep finish hill, so although I’m confident that I can log a strong performance, I’m not sure how realistic my time goal is.
That’s were the A-B-C goal principle comes in. With three goals, ranked in order of importance, it’s a lot harder to completely fail at a race and have a horrible day. Here are my goals for the Four Courts Four Miler:
A Goal: Have fun
B Goal: Finish
C Goal: Finish in 32:00 or less
I celebrated Pi Day (March 4 = 3.14) with my customary Friday muffin from a coworker (life lesson: be nice to people and help them and they will sometimes bring you blueberry muffins). My treadmill jaunt was a tough 4.02 miles (7:43.93/mile), rather than a festive 3.14 miles, but I was glad to have given my legs a moderate test. After the nine-hour flight back from Amsterdam on Sunday, my legs were swollen for a few days. On both Monday and Tuesday I was awoken not by my alarm, but by agonizing leg cramps. I doubled up on bananas and took a day off from running on Thursday and the lingering tightness has finally abated.
I don’t really throw myself wholeheartedly into short distance races. I’ve got a lot of respect for short distances and those who run short distances well, but I’m not one of those people and I like training for long distances too much to probably ever become one of those people, but you never know. I keep saying I have no interest in a triathlon (multiple people have pressed me about attempting a tri), but ask me about that again in a decade. But since I’m coming at this race with a desire to do well, but an admitted lack of genuine seriousness, I’m not planning a quiet, carbohydrate-filled night in to prepare mentally and lay out my gear. On the contrary, after packet pickup I intend to busy myself celebrating a couple of family birthdays then visiting a friend who has bravely shaved her head in support of St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity aiding the fight against cancer.
I’m very excited for the first race of the spring season. I have to qualify “season” as “spring season” since there really isn’t seasonality to running. Even when it’s miserable out, there are still races to be found and outdoor training/fun to be had. My cancelled 50k was supposed to be in the dead of winter in February. So there are seasons when the elements are more favorable towards running, but running is always fun and always in season.