01 September 2010

New Hampshire Breakout

Those who follow astrology (though I cannot for the life of me figure out why) would recognize a phrase like, “Such and such plays a major part today”. Yeah, watch out for those Leos, you never know about them. That is, of course, if you know who they are.

My horoscope two weeks back might have read, “New Hampshire plays a major part today.” And I would have laughed, and said, “Of course, you astro-ninny, I’m heading up there for a week shortly,” which of course, I did. But New Hampshire played a bigger part than expected, and the result is, I hope, a breakout from my injury-prone summer slump.

It’s been pretty much a foregone conclusion that my fall marathon would be the great Null and Void Marathon, held on a bench near you. After the horrid May (103 multiple-injury-laden miles), disastrous June (a mere 77 miles) and somewhat recovered but still hobbling July (finally a respectable 158 miles), all pretty much devoid of any racing, the thought of prepping for a big fall event was, well, astro-ninny silly. Nope, no marathon for me this fall. Stay the sane course.

But the down side of that decision is that there’s nothing pushing you, nothing goading you into working toward a higher level of fitness, nothing driving you out the door every day. And the result has, so far as I can tell, been an extension of the slump, probably beyond what it physically needed to be. Mentally, it’s dragged me down, which of course translates back to the physical. It’s a spiral, easy to fall into, hard to break out of.

Enter my club-mates, or one in particular. I’ve always said that a club is a motivating force, and this time was no exception. At a recent workout, club-mate Bill mentioned his fall plans to run the New Hampshire Marathon. Which one is that? Manchester? Clarence DeMar? Huh? No, the New Hampshire Marathon, a race I’d never heard of. How is it these things exist for years and you never hear about them? Thanks to the club, you do.

So, here’s the cool part. It’s only forty bucks. Yes, I spelled that out so you know it’s not a typo. Forty bucks. Lock, stock, & barrel. Cheapest marathon I’ve seen in, well, cheapest marathon I’ve seen. And it appears to be a full-fledged event. Forty bucks. Go figure.

Now, what this did to my head was simple. For forty bucks, just sign up. Don’t even think about it, just do it. That’s only five bucks more than the fee I lost by not running the Boilermaker this year. For forty bucks, you get motivation. You get something pushing you. And you get the freedom of knowing that if you find you just can’t pull it off, well, so what, it was only forty bucks. And if things go well, you even get a race. And a t-shirt, of course, because I need another t-shirt, but hey…

I know people that would spend more than that on a tie. I can’t see why, but they do.

And so, just before heading off to my week of hiking with the family in New Hampshire, I mailed in my check for forty bucks, and I am now registered to run a fall marathon. Since I was going to New Hampshire anyway, and since it was rainy and not a great hiking day on our way up, we spent an hour or so and drove the course. Very pretty, circumnavigating Newfound Lake, and of course, this being New Hampshire, hilly. Just my style, oh, what fun!

I now have motivation. Combined with a week in New Hampshire where the air was cool and, when not raining, crisp, my outlook has risen significantly from slump-land. Even the last few days home, when it’s peaked in the mid-nineties every day and hit the mid-eighties every time I’ve gotten on the road, making me feel quite awful again, my outlook is up. I’m registered for a fall marathon.

We won’t talk about the fact that it’s a mere month from tomorrow and the longest run I’ve put in since May was a fourteen miler just before the New Hampshire trip. No, that’s crazy talk, we’ll just avoid that little reality. Let’s see, pop in an 18-miler this week, a 21 in another week and a half, still time to taper and rest, and after all, this one is not about the time. Just go and have some fun. Really. I swear.

It’s all about the motivation.

New Hampshire plays a major part today. Really, I read it next to Ann Landers, it must be true.

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