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Race Result

Racer: David Glover
Race: Ocala Marathon
Date: Sunday, February 3, 2008
Location: Ocala, FL
Race Type: Run - Marathon
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 3:08:00
Overall Place: 1 / 42
Comment: The Inner Game of Marathon, Triathlon, etc.

Race Report:

I wrote about the Ocala Marathon a few weeks ago in my blog but forgot to post it here. For the version with pictures, please see my blog: http://davidglover.net/WordPress/?p=65


David Glover
Personal Web: www.davidglover.net
Business Web: www.enduranceworks.net

In my continued search for self-enlightenment and a more meaningful life, I began reading a plethora of “self-help” books…or, rather, as I prefer to call them “self-discovery” books starting with "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho and "Man’s Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.

My latest read has been the The Inner Game of Work by W. Timothy Gallwey (also the author of The Inner Game of Tennis). In his book, Gallwey challenges the reader (me) to re-examine how his definition of work and fundamental motivations for working.

What does this book have to do with triathlon and other activities? Actually, quite a bit. I’ll pick two topics two talk about in this journal entry: Goal Setting and Focus.

When I began thinking about an early 2008 marathon, my friend, Christiana, suggested that I race the 26.2-mile Ocala Marathon in Ocala, Florida. Last year, I had raced in Disney’s Goofy Challenge, which incorporated the Disney Half-marathon on Saturday followed by the Disney Marathon on Sunday. In spite of running a half-marathon the day before, I ran a very fast marathon in a time of 2:46 to finish 9th place overall out of more than 12,000 finishers. Not bad for tired and sore legs!

The Ocala Marathon was on February 3rd this year. Given that I was not running a half-marathon the day before and my Ocala training had been more consistent than my Disney training, I reasonably expected to beat my time at Disney and set a new personal best of under 2:40 (or more than 6 minutes faster than Disney). On paper, my goal seemed simple: run a little faster – only 20 seconds per mile faster – on rested legs. Setting a new personal best was my performance goal.

I won the race but ran a 3:08 so I did not achieve my performance goal; HOWEVER, I did achieve self-development through my learning goals.

In his book, Gallwey suggests rather than only setting performance goals, such as going faster, finishing in the top 10, etc, one should also set learning goals. Performance goals simply describe an accomplishment that is observable by the outside world, nothing more. There may or not be an internal change in the performer. In my case, I felt disappointment because I did not achieve my goal even though I won the race.

Learning goals, on the other hand, result in a change in capability, which occurs internally. For me, my learning goals at the Ocala Marathon were (1) to experiment on myself by running a faster pace than what I had run at Disney in order to learn my limits and (2) improve my ability to stay focused and regain focus if focus by practicing the skills that Gallwey suggests in his book.

Here’s what I learned:
(1) Running a faster pace: The marathon course took us through Florida’s scenic horse country with its long, rolling hills – nothing steep but downhill is still downhill – all on pavement. From the start, I ran fast (6:10 min / mile pace) with intent and quickly pulled away from the others runners. The pace felt comfortably hard. However, my legs took a real pounding and were hurting by the halfway point forcing me to run progressively slower and slower as I forced them to turnover as fast as I could. In hindsight, I realized that I completed all of my long runs (except for one) on soft, dirt trails. I should have done more training runs on pavement in order to prepare my body better for the hard pounding of the race. In a follow up visit with my ART-certified chiropractor, Dr. Melanie Six, she believes that my hamstrings are relatively weak and therefore fatigued prematurely forcing my quad and calf muscles to pick up additional workload and fatigue themselves resulting the excessive leg soreness that I felt during and after the event. I will be incorporating isolated hamstring exercises that she showed me into my training in order to address this issue.

(2) Improve my ability to stay focused: I ran the race completely by myself so it presented an ideal environment for me to practice maintaining my focus, and just as importantly, regaining my focus if lost. Furthermore, painful, aching legs resulting in deteriorating speed forced me to repeatedly face the “Do I walk or keep running?” dialog that ran repeatedly through my head. Gallwey recommends that one should focus on a single variable in order to let the natural self take over and the voice of doubt to be quieted. I focused on the flashing blue lights of my motorcycle escort. When I lost focus, which happened frequently in the second half of the race, I would catch my thoughts drifting to other “stuff” or find myself thinking about the pain in my legs then would look back to the flashing blue lights in order to regain my focus. Focusing on a single variable as Gallwey recommended seemed to work fairly well as I ran the entire race and was able to quickly identify and mitigate negative self talk.

In hindsight, I did accomplish much in my race both externally (my win) and internally (more self-awareness and new focus tools) so I am happy for that. Naturally, I still want a sub-2:40 time but that goal will have to wait.

Oh, and I did one learn one more thing. Since last Disney last year, I looked at an early marathon as a smart training event to bridge the winter gap between the end of one triathlon season in the fall and the start of the next season in the spring. I no longer agree.

Next up is Ironman Arizona on 4/13.

Happy training,

David Glover
Professional triathlete
Author of "Full Time and Sub-Nine"
Founder of EnduranceWorks, LLC (www.enduranceworks.net)