The past couple of weeks have been a wash.

I ran a mini-taper (running jargon for taking it easy before a competition. A taper is thought to let the body refresh and be fully fit on race day) leading into a half marathon. The half was designed to be  a systems check for the October 14th marathon here in Graz. The only way I can describe the disappointment is to say that I pushed the motor to hard while it was still cold, drove in third when I should have been in fifth, and that EVERY light on my dash strahled out into the deep dark abyss that was/is my current mental emptiness. My body hasn’t been right since.

I’ve been struggling to find a puzzle piece why, and my Coach’s answer is a pretty good one. Someone who wants to run one hour and nine minutes (1:09) shouldn’t run the first two miles of a race at sub one o’four pace (1:04). My problem there is complex, but I’ll try to lay it out for you…
For starters, I am uber competitive and want nothing more than to mix it up with the fasties. I don’t care what your personal best is, or what country you hail from, when we go at it I want to beat you. Heap on top of that hot mess the idiotic and immature idea that I don’t make game plans, rather run by the “triumph or die” (most often die) strategy of “Hang onto the lead group AS LONG AS POSSIBLE,” with the thought that eventually I’ll stick, run a great time and beat some bad men. These previous two thoughts in themselves aren’t too shabby if, and this is a BIG if, the race is shorter than two miles AND you’ve got the ability to run anywhere near the tempo the leaders set out on. I don’t run races that short, and I’m not a world class athlete. The third part of my problem is that I get sucked into running another athlete’s race well too often. The ONLY way to reach my highest potential as a runner (and human being) is to be me. I have to finally accept that running within myself, and applying my efforts evenly throughout a race (a task in life) will ultimately make the difference between me winning or losing (whether I finish first or not). My desire to win will only have a platform to express itself if I control my actions rather than allow them to be controlled by others.

So, after a taper week for the half, and a week to recover from the destruction I did to my body during the half, I find myself dead tired, without coordination or strength. Lifting my legs feels like a job in itself and my breathing is heavy. But… the cool, crisp air of fall has arrived, washing the warmth of summer from my skin and leaving me with a fresh, renewed feeling (and the motivation of a crooked politician in an election year–except I only play fair).

If you’ve made it this far, kudos. And thanks. I think if there is a message to be taken from my Tuesday morning ramble session, it would be this:

Becoming the absolute best that you can be in life is not only manifested with commitment, motivation, and will, through consistent hard work and sacrifice, but also with patience, reflection, and the ability to adapt.
It’s not enough to feel or even to know something. You have to be able to apply what you’ve learned to life. And that my friends, is as easy as doing.

I’ll let you know how that works out soon.