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Ignorance Is Bliss
You know how I know this weekend was good?
I didn’t wear any makeup.
I’m not a big makeup-wearer in general, but I do usually throw on a bit of please-hide-these-bags-under-my-eyes concealer or foundation or whatever it’s called, and my eyelashes are short and blonde, so a bit of mascara helps in that department.
But this weekend: Makeup-free. And I loved it.
I probably looked like ass, but I liked rubbing my eyes every two seconds because I didn’t have to worry about splashing black mascara crumbles down my cheeks.
The weekend was pretty unremarkable in general, but unremarkable is what I enjoy these days. I did a yoga class on Friday, did my last I’m-not-officially-marathon-training-yet “long” run on Saturday (10 miles in brutal heat, didn’t go super well), saw the Rock of Ages movie (so bad — you’re better off paying for a trip to NYC to see the Broadway show, which is a billion times better) and traveled to Pawling, NY, to spectate the heck out of Brian’s bike race on Sunday.
I’ve grown to love the whole bike racing thing. One thing I find really cool about these bike races is that usually, until the final sprint, the riders are all cruising in a pack (a “peloton” if you want to get fancy, or just, you know, accurate) and working together to get to the finish line.
Of course, as soon as the finish is in sight, it’s a sprint and a ballsy competition, but I really like the camaraderie of these events.
I’m also managing to learn a lot from the sidelines when I silence my cowbell long enough to eavesdrop on peoples’ conversations.
I overheard a little gem yesterday while I was hanging out in the parking lot — I believe those with the clip-in shoes were calling it the “staging area” — and I can’t get the conversation out of my head. Here is how it went:
[Cyclist returns to his car from his warm-up where a lady is waiting. It is unclear if she is his girlfriend or just a friend who is a girl. They did not kiss or engage in any PG-13 activities that I could see, so for the sake of this story they are just friends...or people who know how to behave appropriately in public.]
Girl Who Is A Friend: How was your warm-up?
Guy About To Race: It was OK. My watch died, so I won’t be using that for the race I guess.
Girl Who Is A Friend And Who Is So Cute But Does Not Seem To Be Romantically Interested In Cyclist: [Audible Gasp] Oh no!
Guy Who Is Maybe Just Her Brother: Doesn’t matter. All that matters is holding the wheel in front of me. The numbers don’t matter.
The numbers don’t matter.
I just wanted to type it again for emphasis.
I probably need to be friends with this guy, because he is so wise.
Obviously, to some extent, the numbers do matter. But I loved where Racer Man’s head was at. Whereas most people (um, most people named Ali) would freak out if minutes before the race their watch crapped out, this guy didn’t care. All he knew was that he had to hang on to the leader, follow his pace and ride hard. Whether that meant 25 miles per hour or 55 miles per hour, he was planning to keep up.
And that’s the kind of mentality I need to adopt as I begin marathon training.
I am a firm believer that when it comes to certain things, ignorance is bliss.
My best-run races — the National Half Marathon and the Race to Deliver — were two where I had little to no expectations. I didn’t stare at my watch, I didn’t know about negative splitting, and I wasn’t even necessarily seeking a PR. I was running innocently and happily.
That strategy works for me.
Because the more I learn about running, the more intimidated and overwhelmed I am by all the information out there. It doesn’t help that every time I post about going for a run, I get a handful of comments telling me I should speed up, slow down, negative split, positive split, banana split, do a split, be more flexible, take more yoga, get my heels to the ground in Downward Dog and eat less ice cream.
No one has ever suggested I eat less ice cream.
I love learning and I appreciate feedback since I admittedly know very little about running. But the more I know, the more I over-think things. As marathon training kicks off, each workout will have a purpose. I’ll have pace plans, goals and enough Garmin stats to freeze my computer and my brain.
I still consider myself a running newbie, and I truly believe that as I’ve learned more about running, I’ve gotten worse at it. The knowledge seems to hurt me more than it helps me.
There was once a time when I would just go out for a run without a plan for distance or speed. I’d end up flying through those runs, loving every minute, every mile.
I’m all about having goals and expectations, but I do miss the freedom of mindless running. Even when my plan says to go out for an “easy 5 miles,” I know that “easy” should mean hitting a certain pace, not going too fast, and not going more than five miles, no matter how great I feel.
I never realized running was quite so scientific. Weird.
While my big NYCM goals are to nab that sub-4:00 finish and to make it to the start and finish lines healthy and injury-free, I’m declaring another goal today: Don’t over-think it. Just run.
I can push hard without obsessing over my pace.
I can run slowly without worrying about it being “too slow” or “too fast.”
I can let some runs hurt.
I can let some runs feel effortless.
Today is Day 1 of training.
I kicked it off with a bike ride.
Going forward, I have a plan. I’m going to follow it. I’m going to do my best. I’m going to accept that every run won’t be perfect, but more importantly, I’m going to remember why I’m doing this: because I love it.
I’m not going to win the marathon. I guess I’ll leave that to Firehiwot Dado or whatever. I’m such a good friend.
I may never win a race, or an age group award, and I may never be as fast as I’d really like.
But I remember how awful it felt when I was injured-or-whatever this spring. I remember how miserable I was when I couldn’t run. Now I can run, and so I will, and I’ll do it happily. I will never be the girl who complains about “having to go for a long run.” Oh, you want 18 miles from me? Gladly! With the last 4 at marathon goal pace? Sweet, hand me a Gu Chomp.
I’m lucky I’m able to run. Make sure I don’t forget that over the next four months, OK?
HAPPY TRAINING TO YOU: Who’s gearing up for a fall race? Which one? Tell me everything. Be my friend.