- Why do marathoners sometimes run themselves into the ground, literally, in trying to finish the race, and
- Why do track runners always seem to be vomiting after their race?
I suppose both of these could be rephrased as, "Why are runners such idiots?"
As I started training for marathons, I began to understand the first. "Mind over matter" isn't just a catchy phrase, it's actually how you get yourself from the start line to the finish in an endurance race. And once you become accustomed to ignoring the fake complaints your body manufactures (and it can manufacture a LOT of them - it used to take me around 4 miles before the phantom aches, pains, itches, and twitchy feelings would stop), it becomes possible to ignore things that are real. And when you're training for a marathon, especially an important one (with a time goal or a goal of finishing), you have to really, really, want it to put up with the time investment required to get there. I've only once run when I shouldn't have -- when I sprained my ankle and then ran 4 miles on it, and I literally didn't notice I was hurt until I had finished the race.
As for the second question, when I started running, I promised myself I'd never run so hard that I'd throw up. (Because, ew!) But I realized today that speedwork has made it possible for me to run in what is oh-so-charmingly called "sub-barf speed" (i.e., right on the edge), and that combined with an intense desire to go as quickly as possible in the last mile can rapidly edge me right over into the "now barfing" category once I stop. It's not harmful - I only lost the 4 sips of bright blue Gatorade I'd drank on the course and then immediately felt better and well enough to drink some water and eat an apple - but it's definitely not fun, either.
But I get it now. It was worth that 2 minutes of discomfort to me to chop an astonishing 1 minute per mile off my pace, or about 6 minutes off my total time. (For context, the difference between the first place woman and the second place woman is 15 seconds. Minutes are a big deal in a 10K.) I finished in 61:22. My previous time on the same course was 67:32,and the 10Ks prior to that were 69:20 and 70:50. Next year I want to break the one hour mark.
I actually don't remember much of the race itself since so much of my racing time was consumed with checking my watch to make sure I was on the paces Jeff had set for me. (Random aside: Having an awesome, dedicated coach like my husband has totally helped my running. If I weren't married to him, I'd pay dearly to get the type of coaching he gives me for free.) Early in the race, I kept slowing myself down, and the last two miles, I was trying to keep my pace at anything that was under 10 minutes a mile. For the final half mile, my goal was to pass as many people in front of me as I could. I got to 10. Unfortunately, none of those was Zach, who blew my time away by about 10 seconds. (Seriously, though - congrats, Zach - you ran a great race.)
Anyhow, a fantastic day - next week is back to marathon training with a 20 miler, where my first hour of running will cover one mile less than today's running did.