Confidence is a funny thing. When you have it, it's like you're walking on air. You feel like you can do anything. When you don't have it, the most trivial task seems insurmountable and you shrivel with anxiety.
When it comes to racing confidence can be almost as important as fitness. Going into a race knowing you can go the distance or knowing so can hold the pace can make all of the difference in the world. Fortunately this season my training has gone extremely well and I have entered into every race with the confidence not only to finish, but with the confidence to finish well. Now that's not to say that I haven't had less than stellar races *cough* Pigman *cough*. That will happen from time to time, sometimes due to things you can't control *cough* sideways rain *cough*.
In a little over a week I will be racing my second marathon. Last year was an experience to say the least. About a month out I hurt my foot during an 18 mile run and after that I did very little running leading up to the race in order to stay semi-healthy. Come race time I wasn't feeling real confident and I switched from a time goal to a "let's just finish this thing" sort of goal. Well, I did finish that thing, but it was a complete sufferfest after mile 20. I finished in 3:42:09 (8:29/mile pace), but it wasn't pretty.
This year things are going much different on the running front. I've stayed injury free and have been putting in all kinds of mileage. In fact for 5 consecutive months I've put in 100+ miles. All of my long runs have gone very well. The last was a 20 miler that I ran at an 8:00 minute/mile pace, with limited discomfort and soreness both during and after. Things have been going so well that a couple of letters have been floating through my thoughts the last few days. That B and Q keep on fluttering by, tempting me, taunting me. Part of me think its absurd, but there is also part of me that thinks qualifying for Boston is quite possible with proper training.
Have I had the proper training? I'm not sure. I think if I set aside 2-3 months to focus solely on running its a sure thing. All this biking and swimming tends to get in the way though, and I'm not ready to sacrifice that yet. I ran a 1:31:42 (7:00/mile) half marathon earlier in the year and based on several running calculators that predicts a 3:13ish marathon finish which is 3 minutes shy of the BQ time. I would hate to go out too hard and completely blow up. Maybe I should just be satisfied with a solid PR. Hmmm, decisions, decisions.
I guess I have another week to figure out what to do. Actually only 4 days as my decision may dictate how hard I go at this weekend's triathlon. It's a nice little Olympic-ish distance event in Waterloo. I'm hoping to take another crack at the bike course (I crashed last time. Don't ask). Until then I'll do my best to keep those pesky letters from dominating my thoughts.