The Road to Chicago

You have to dream in color. Your dreams have to be vivid. They have to be alive. You have to feel them, taste them, touch them. You have to see yourself living them.

I have six solid weeks of training under my belt. In between the speed workouts, the tempo runs, the easy runs, and the long runs, I’ve been really focused on building my mental confidence. A few weeks ago, I walked up the stairs in my house and stopped to stare at my bookcase. Which one of the books hadn’t I read yet? I have a (not so) great habit of buying books, lots of books, because I know I will read them all one day. Mindgym jumped off the shelf at me. I bought the book last summer and never made it past the first section.

“Everyone has confidence in you but you! Everyone sees your potential but you.” ~Jerry Frostick

The first section of the book is about identifying weakness. It’s about analyzing your behaviors to discover areas of growth. I’m really good at this. I’m really good at finding areas of improvement in my life. What I missed out on by putting the book down last summer was how to implement the improvements, how to strengthen my own mental strength. I missed out on progress. As the intensity of my training plan takes off, I need it now more than ever.

Gary Mack, sports psychologist, describes the importance of dreams. Do you dream in color? Do you dream in black and white? The dreams that come true are the dreams that are filled with color. I thought about this a lot last night as I ran 14 miles along the coast as the sun set. Are my dreams colorful? Are they black and white?

The reason I decided to run marathon #3 was full of color. I craved the marathon. I could feel the push at mile 24. I could taste the desire at mile 25. I could hear the crowds cheering me on at the finish line. I watched marathon finish lines, and tears rolled down my cheeks. My dream to run another marathon was vivid. I was ready to do this.

Nearly two months ago, in the middle of the Operation Smile mission, I found myself sitting next to Jerry Frostick. I was lucky enough to be on the mission trip with two of my favorite race directors. So Kristy, tell me about Chicago. What are your goals. I want to finish strong. I want to finish confident. I want to embrace the marathon. That conversation spread from the hospital court yard to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain to the J&A Racing Office in Virginia Beach. After we got home from the trip, I found myself in his office staring at a training plan. This dream was coming true, and it was a collaboration of all the things I love.

On top of Machu Picchu Mountain
On top of Machu Picchu Mountain
I’ve run every run on my training plan. I’ve surprised myself with the paces I’ve been able to maintain. I’ve been impressed by my own dedication. I’ve committed to my circuit workouts. I’ve stared at my training plan. I’ve put checks next to each work out. I’ve analyzed finish times. My training became black and white.

Last Thursday I sat across from Jerry and I don’t know who has become more frustrated with my head. What do I need to do to believe in my own ability? I left the office feeling anxious. I have so many people believing in me. What if I let them down? Other life factors added on layers of anxiety. On Saturday, during a six mile run, I felt it all coming seeping out of my pours. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus. Panic was taking over.

On Sunday, I needed to run 14 miles. I didn’t want to run. I was paralyzed by fear. Christian shoved me out the door at 7pm, and I knew I had to commit to my run. Mile 1 felt stiff. My legs felt sore. As I ran up and over the Rudee Inlet bridge a favorite song came on the radio. The oceanfront was alive with summer energy. I saw my dream in color again. I let go of the black and water training plan and spread sheet. I let go of perceived expectations. I let go of perfect. My feet carried me through the crowds on the boardwalk, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I ran through the trails, and I couldn’t stop smiling. When I turned around to head back to my car, I knew I had found the magic in my run again.

At mile 7, I feared I had gone out to fast. I was nervous that I would fall apart on the way back. I quickly silenced that voice by saying who cares. Who cares if mile 14 is my slowest? What if it’s not? Who cares if I struggle for the last four miles? What if I don’t? Who cares if my run isn’t perfect on paper? Every single mile made me smile. Running the marathon is a huge act of trust. It’s an act of existing in each moment, each mile, and making the best of it. Last night I chose to trust.

My goal for this training cycle is simple: trust Jerry to create the black and white outline for Chicago and allow my heart to add the color. It’s my job to paint the picture. It’s my job to bring it to life.

IMG_8252
Mile 8, more than half way, an amazing reminder to trust
Sunday’s Long Run: 14 miles, 9:31 pace

(9:46, 9:17, 9:17, 9:17, 9:19, 9:06, 10:13 (trail), 9:51 (trail), 9:01, 9:05, 9:31, 9:49, 10:04, 9:35)

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