"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Thursday, June 2, 2011

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As I toed the starting line of the 2010 Newport Marathon, my first marathon, I thought I was prepared. In many ways I was: I had put in the appropriate amount of miles, including three 20-milers. I was eating healthy and had tapered as the experts said I should. I had spent time thinking positive thoughts, envisioning various parts of the race and what it would feel like. I imagined the feeling of crossing the finish line. I had a goal in mind. I thought I was as prepared as I could be.
And then the starting gun went off and for the next 4 hours and 35 minutes I endured the butt-kicking of a lifetime.
I finished, but not the way I had hoped or imagined. And now a year later I'm ready to do it again.
I'm terrible at golf, but I tend to watch the biggest tournaments on TV occasionally. Quite often the commentators will comment on a player's ability to manage the course, identifying which holes to attack, which to play conservatively and groups of holes that can make or break a round. Those that rise to the top of the leader board are those who can manage the course the best, minimize their mistakes and execute a solid plan. Managing 26.2 miles is no different.
I'm more prepared to manage the course this year. Mentally I can break the miles up into 2, 3 and 4 mile increments with the aid stations, halfway mark, and turnaround points. I know where the inclines are. I know how many turns there are through the city streets in the first four miles (18 of them) -- and how much further I had to run last year because I ended up on the outside of many of those turns. I have a good idea of which miles will be faster and which will be slower and have what I believe is a solid plan to navigate those differences and finish in a desirable time.
Physically I'm better prepared with another year of consistent and constant running under my belt. Instead of one year of running experience I now have two. My body feels good and strong. I have a more realistic goal in mind this year due largely to having run 20 miles or more 16 times instead of just the three I had done prior to last year's race.
All the training is done now. I'll leave for Newport tomorrow and make my way to the starting line early Saturday morning. Is a 26.2 mile sub-4 hour victory lap through the streets of Newport in store? We'll see.

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