100 Days and the Involuntary Moments of Self Doubt

Day 98- Easy Run- 7.53 miles

Day 99- Strength/Intervals- 11.22 miles (3 x 2 miles with 800 meter recovery jog).

Day 100- Regular Run- 4.4 miles.

I woke up this morning and angrily looked at my alarm clock with the number 5:27 staring back at me. I had snoozed twice already. I knew I had scheduled an easy four mile run for this morning. I looked out of my window at the darkness of the pre-day light savings morning and had a momentary internal struggle to get up. But I did lower my feet to the cold wood floor and start my morning routine. I ate my gluten free oatmeal with some honey and washed it down with black coffee. I was about to put my sneakers on when I looked at my toes and remembered that I had an open cut on the small toe on my left foot. I decided to try to put a band aid on it but that felt awkward when I put my sneakers on. I walked around and wondered whether I should skip the run. Maybe this was a sign my body was giving me to skip it today. This was going to be a high volume week and my pacing from yesterday’s strength workout was a little off. Give my legs a day off and let the small scrape on my pinky toe heal.

I sat down and sipped more coffee. I could actually relax this morning and just sort of veg out in front of the internet, listening to a podcast or reading. Four miles were irrelevant in the grand scheme of I things, I thought to myself. But the guilt was there, something gnawing at me. NYRR had put out the corral assignments for the Marathon on Monday. I had been assigned the bottom bridge for the first time this year. I had always been on top of the bridge but now I would be start at a different point and run a slightly different course. For those that don’t know the NYC Marathon has three designated starting points that are organized by color. Blue and Orange meet together on top of the Verrazano Bridge. That is the more glamorous spot. The green group, the one I belong to in 2016, starts on the lower level. The lower level is infamous as the mythical receptacle of the top bridge people’s urine and spit. I didn’t mind that as much as you would think. I don’t mind starting on the lower level so that isn’t bothering me (with the caveat that being urinated on would put a serious damper on the experience).

No the problem with the corral announcement is that it came via the mobile application for the Marathon. That mobile application also came with a race predictor. The race predictor allowed me to input information from my training (e.g.- pacing for regular, long runs and recent race times). This little digital screen irked me. The race predictor said that my expected finish was between 3:12 and 3:18, which was fine but the race predictor went further than this. It almost admonished me that my pacing for my regular runs during training was too slow and therefore it was providing a broader range based on my race results and my prior marathon performances. It wasn’t even a person speaking to me but this little screen on my phone planted the seed of doubt. It was like someone telling me the type of girl I was going to fall in love with but with the disclaimer that it was a broader range of woman I might end up with was broader because I had fucked up along the way.

All these machinations were going on in the back of my head when I checked my training journal and noticed that the next entry was going to be my 100th day. This process started on July 4 and now on October 12, I had committed to something for 100 days. The thought of skipping the run started because I thought somehow I could crank up my pacing for the rest of the week. But now the thought went through my head- “I really should run on the 100th day”. I then looked at my monthly totals and saw 96 miles for the month of October. The symmetry was undeniable. 100 miles and my 100th day. How could I say no to these 4 miles? It was silly to let a little screen impact what I had vested 100 days into and countless additional hours reading books and laying out this plan. I am not running this like a “bucket lister”. This will hopefully be my fifth marathon, and the sixth I have trained for, I should know by now that I am not going to game the system.

Training can help fighting through the machinations of self doubt, which can creep in at the oddest times or worst times (like during a race). And that was why today, I took the bizarre signs that encouraged me to run as a sign that I didn’t need the rest. My legs were fine for the four easy miles and I was happy to be outside on a windless cool fall day during the sunrise. 26 days from now I can’t let self doubt wriggle its way in because I know that the training will provide 95% of the results. The last 5% is luck based on the weather and how I feel that morning on the second level of the Verrazano Bridge.