Monday, March 31, 2008

See, What Happened was that I am Blond and Lola Ate My Homework

Okay, there are no excuses.

Wait, there are always excuses but in the end, when you peel it all away, it doesn't matter what excuse you have: it is what it is.

And what it is, specifically, is that I am not 3:30 marathon material.

Sure, I could say that maybe if I did X and followed X plan I could run a 3:30 marathon, heck maybe even faster. . .

But that is never going to happen because I don't have faith in the X factor because I know even if you do everything perfectly you still may not succeed. And I also know--from experience--that sometimes you hit jackpot even without much effort or plan. So me? I don't try so hard.

Don't get me wrong. I definitely try but there is always an element of self sabotage at work. Self sabotage as self preservation. I could go on and on and bore you and myself with psychoanalysis bullshit but really what we are talking about are just excuses. Like I said, it is what it is.

But. . .

What it is--I think-- is that it is funny how I self sabotage.

Let's set my crazy marathon training aside. Never mind that I let the speed work slide. Never mind that half of December I was recovering from all that November racing and then spent the other half coughing up a lung from bronchitis or pneumonia or the flu. Never mind that January was totally miserable because of injuries. I still ran through it and the training really came together in February. I still worked pretty darn hard and got in plenty of miles and more than enough solid long runs. It wasn't ideal. And yes, I am sure I didn't taper "properly". But do I ever?My training, while far from ideal or perfect, was no different this time than it was for any of those other 4 marathons. So I was trained and feel I am as close to 3:30 material as I was in the fall. Which, clearly, is not 3:30 material.

So I am not even considering my training at fault. My training is always helter skelter. I always think it is lacking. It doesn't seem to matter: sometimes I have great success and other times not so much. It is what it is.

But where I think I went wrong--where I think there is an element of self sabotage clearly at play-- was in the night before the marathon. See, I came up with a hair brained plan and it was just dumb all ways around it.

I don't even know how it got started but somehow I decided the best idea was for me to stay at Pookie and Wes's house marathon eve rather than drive to their house in the morning and have Wes drop us at the start--like we did last year. I think the original rational was that I would get a little extra sleep staying at their house.

I should mention that I am not a good sleeper in general-- even at my house, in my own bed. I rarely ever get a solid good night's sleep. So I definitely do not sleep well in strange places. Well, unless so drunk I don't know that I am in a strange place, which, btw, really never happens. Well, at least not anymore. . .

My other thinking in the plan to stay at Pookie's was that this would be a perfect opportunity for her to highlight and cut my hair. I have a job interview this week and it was the only time she could do it. And believe me, it had to be done. Seven months is too long to go between highlights and hair cuts. Look, here is my hair on Easter.
Please note. I am not wearing a hat. Those are my roots. Yes, they go below my ears. Yes, I am also excited that my hair has grown that much in seven months but then again, look at the ends. It is bad.

On Saturday morning while I did my swim-- clearly at the height of my taper madness--I decided it would probably be best if I brought Lola to stay with me at Pookie's. That way Ryan wouldn't have to deal with kids and the dog in the morning while they cheered me on. (We weren't going to be home all day and Lola can't stay in her crate for 12 hours. That just isn't nice. This is not to say I am nice but I am definitely not cruel). That way Lola could just stay in her crate or outside at Pookie's house until we got back from the race for the post race celebration. It all made perfect sense. Because you know, Ryan, who was not running 26.2 miles and was only doing what I do every single day, absolutely was the one who going to have a challenging day.

So I spent Saturday afternoon setting out outfits for the kids so all Ryan had to do was get them dressed in the morning. Then I did some laundry and made sure all the kids stuff was ready for school on Monday so that I wouldn't have to do that Sunday night when surely I would be too tired. Then I packed myself and Lola up and headed to Pookie's.

When I got to her house she was still at work. Wes and his cycling team mates were all having beers. The had done "the Tucker ride." I only mention it because they told me like I knew what "the Tucker ride" was. I don't. But you know I was all about chilling with a beer and talking some bike and some marathon.

Wes and I decided it would be best to put Lola and Marlow--Lola's cousin, Pookie's dog--outside in the backyard.

I should also add that Marlow makes Lola look like the world's most well behaved obedient dog ever. So you can imagine how it is when they get to play together.

While I waited for Pookie to come home and chatted with the boys it started to rain. But neither Wes nor I thought, mmm, we should get the dogs and bring them in so they don't get all wet and disgusting. Well, we did eventually think that but it was way too late as they were already horribly dirty. Not to mention wet and muddy.

Then Pookie came home and Wes and his compatriots wisely split the scene. But not before I warned him that he better be back and ready --read sober-- to take us to the race start no later than 6 am. His friends laughed at him and he looked pained but promised to be back in time. He did though, before leaving, set the coffee maker to have my coffee ready at 4 am.

Pookie and I set about making ourselves dinner--steak, salad and baked potatoes. While we were cooking it became apparent that the dogs would have to be cleaned before coming in. Problem was it was still raining.

So while Pookie finished getting dinner ready I went outside--in the rain-- with shampoo and bathed the dogs. It is never fun to bathe a dog, much less 2 dogs and even less fun to do it in the cold and the rain. The dogs didn't like it too much either.

Then dogs and me got dried off. I cleaned the floor from the mud and water. And finally Pookie and I sat down to eat. After dinner it was finally time for her to do my hair.

I absolutely hate to have my hair done. It takes way too long and involves that other thing I don't like or do well: sit still.

She didn't finish with the cutting and highlighting until nearly 10:30. I had wanted, planned, to be in bed by 9 pm. Sigh. I figured that was okay since I have run many races on very little sleep. Adrenaline would get me through it. Plus I was blond again and everybody knows that having blond hair just makes you run better.

I put Lola in her crate in my room and I think I finally fell asleep at 11pm.

But visions of GU and even 8 minute splits did not dance in my head.

At 11:52 I woke in a panic worried that the alarm that I had set on my cell phone would not go off.

I decided I better test it.

So from 11:53 until 11:58 I tested my cell phone alarm 4 times. Just to be safe I also decided that I should set multiple alarms. I set it for 4:00 am, 4:03 am and 4:05 am. I used different tones too-- you know just in case I dreamed I was in a dance club or being chased by Interpol.

Then I had to pee. I pee-ed, got back in bed and tried to think of nothing. I thought about everything. Freaked myself out. My heart raced. Lola made all sorts of racket and I fretted that she would keep me up all night.

Then, for awhile, I don't remember anything.

Then I woke up because Lola made a noise. It was 1:06 am. I had to pee anyway. Damn hydrating plan. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Pee-ed. Got back in bed. Tried to think of nothing. Thought of everything. Lola made racket. Damn pinch collar, metal crate.

Then, for awhile, I don't remember anything. I have to think that I was sleeping.

Then I bolted up in a panic that I overslept. Checked clock. 2:47 am. Sigh. Needed to pee anyway. What the hell? Damn sucky bladder.

Fell back asleep, I think. So very exhausted.

Woke up panicked again that I overslept. Checked clock: 3:56 am.

Resigned to wakefulness I heaved an annoyed sigh. I questioned why I wanted to run 26.2 miles anyway as I lay there in the dark, eyes wide open, listening to the rain fall outside. Committed, I turned off the alarms. I heard the coffee grinder kick on. Damn, 26.2 miles is really far and already, I am so tired . . .


  1. Hey Ms Natalie,

    Don't beat yourself up over this. I know the feeling very well!

    Here is my theory:

    -You cut your hair... know Sampson...he was strong until they cut his hair. You show us the about the after!

    No...really though:

    -It was a very hilly course and you missed a PR by a minute...a PR set on a gentler course.

    -You still had another BQ time.

    -You will break that 3:30!

    -I think your taper is a whole lot worse than really should talke it easy, at least the week of.

    -I wonder what an actual structured training plan would do for you. You say you trained the same...but you got the same results.

    As to the lack of sleep the night before...I think it happens to all of us that have high expectations for the next day's race. And I believe they say because of this, a good nights sleep the night before is more important than the night of.

    When is your next marathon?

  2. X2 on everything Charlie said.

    Everyone does that the night before the race. Heck, I do that the night before long runs because if I don't wake up, I'll miss my run.

    Good luck at your interview.

  3. Yes...Hope your interview goes very well!

    Good Luck!

  4. Charlie! I totally forgot about Sampson and his hair! I bet you are right :) She only cut 3 inches off so that is why I was probably so close to having a pr.

    Hair pictures coming in part 2 of race report. I was going to write both yesterday but then my internet was out most of the day and then again while I was writing this one. I have to call BellSouth everyday and yell at them. They gave me month free though. . .

    Anyway, thanks for making me feel better. I am fine about the race. I am happy with my result. I just wish I had hit that pr. I honestly wasn't expecting 3:30 but was hoping do to better. 2 seconds better would have made me happy. Oh well. Definitely was the hair.

  5. I think you can run a sub-3:30 too :-) I don't know much about this hair thing, I shave mine practically off, but I do know that the night before the race always sucks. That's why we sleep real good two nights before!

    Good luck on your job interview!! I hope it goes well!

  6. ya know-My arthritis has been worse since Pookie cut my hair. Maybe there's something to this strength/hair thing. oh well, I really like that it doesn't take forever to rinse the shampoo out and drying is a snap. Anyway, when mine was long I still thought 4 miles was a long run for me. Lala

  7. hey wait! I just figured it out-it's not hair length-it's POOKIE. She gets around us and just sucks the energy out of our heads with her scissor hands! lala

  8. Man that was some race report.

    Good picture of you though :)

    Yep, sleeping before a race is hard.

    Good luck on your job interview!

  9. Everyone's onto something with the hair thing:) You can run a Sub 3:30!
    Can't wait for the rest of the report.