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The Disneyworld Half-Marathon begins at 5:30am on January 7. That is less than 10 days from now.

I wish I could say I felt ready. Unfortunately I can’t say that. It’s been a very strange month. I’ve been sick a couple times, but nothing that should have killed my training. I ran in cold weather last year, but this year it’s been more of a struggle to make the time and get out there.

I’m on the cusp of the major goal that set this whole thing in motion, and yet it feels in some ways like I have set myself up for failure. It’s like I reached a point in my training where I was sure I would be able to do the distance in the cutoff, and then I stopped pushing. When I did that with swimming, I ended up a DNF. That simply is not an option this time. I will be able to run-walk, aka Gallowalk.It may be necessary. But this is no way to do the month before a half-mary.

I’ve definitely been suffering from lack of focus, and I’m not surprised. I have identified a very deep flaw in my psychology this last year, and while identification is the first important step, it’s not the only step. That flaw is what I’ve called binary thinking. I’m either on or off. When I have a solid, full, comprehensive plan, I can be on with no trouble. But once I slack a bit, the switch goes off. This is not how normal people live, and it’s not how I want to live, but it’s also not a change I can make overnight.

This is a big reason I set my sights on an even crazier goal for 2012, the half ironman. It’s not that going the distance will mean something in and of itself, but preparing to do the race will mean a regular habit of training, following a custom made plan I produced on the BT website. It’s 21 weeks long, this plan. That’s longer than anything I did this year. If I can trick myself into being disciplined for 21 weeks, then maybe I can go 52 weeks. Then maybe the habit can truly become long term. All the goals I set this year were a big deal for me from the low expectation starting point of zero/couch/inactivity. All progress was great. But it was a lot like being the preschooler who finally just manages to barely scribble out the letters of his name. It’s cute for now, but in a year we’re going to expect a whole lot more. I don’t want to undermine my great first year, but I know now that I was capable of a lot more. I did about all I needed to do just to complete the goals. So, if that’s how I’m operating, the time came soon to set higher goals, so the minimum workload would have to increase.

The trouble is, along the way I got so focused on next January to June, that I almost forgot I had committed to something I haven’t yet done, in January. And we went and scheduled a whole family trip around it. Don’t get me wrong, I am planning on starting, and finishing, the half-marathon. I will either cross the finish line and get my Donald Duck, or I will be taken away in handcuffs for refusing to get off the course when the sweeper tells me to. Either way, there will be pictures on facebook, I promise.

So I really want to try and focus a lot of mental energy on getting back in the mood for the trip. I’ve been soured by the weather and darkness here. This isn’t our first time, so the anticipation is different, and last time I didn’t have the preceding weeks filled with Christmas duties and all the emotional baggage of holiday food issues. That’s honestly been weighing me down, literally and figuratively.

But, the countdown is on, the kids are hopefully getting excited, and soon enough, we’ll be touching down on a Southwest jet landing at Orlando International Airport, and the magical pixie dust will fill my lungs with what it takes to get it done. I may never come back to PA. If I happen to hit a powerball ticket between now and then, I probably won’t.

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3 thoughts on “10 Days and Counting

  1. I understand where you’re coming from. It always seems to rain on my Tuesday run and I can’t make myself run in it. Suddenly I’m a big baby about it and I really need to suck it up! As far as run/walking the WDW Half, I’m sure I’ll be walking a bit too. It’s the fear of the sweepers that will make me walk really fast(and now I’m hearing “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in my head), and run when I don’t feel like it. And, let’s face it, if this was supposed to be easy you wouldn’t be interested in doing it. You’ll be fine. 🙂

  2. Long distance runners, while competing, have used the term “hit the wall” (not to be confused with a NASCAR driver using the term “hit the wall”). There is also a mental wall during training. It can be any obstacle that distracts or causes one to pospone training. It can be in the form of, “don’t have time, too cold, its raining, it will be dark soon, or I’d rather raid the cookie jar”. The mental preparedness is just as important and as difficult as the physical training. You have come a long way in the last year and still have to strive to reach your goal. I’m proud of your accomplishments and am here to encourage you. So get over this hurdle and get your butt out and train. Keep pushing, you can do it.

    PS: Can I have your seat on the couch?

  3. I’m also training for my first 1/2 iron in the weather and the darkness of the pacific northwest winter. with a case of the post-holiday blahs. I completely get the self-doubt and the on/off switch. I’m also an OCD-must-have-a-plan-and-my-life-falls-apart-if-i-don’t-follow-it kind of guy. maybe try incorporating ‘sick days’ or ‘flex days’ into your training schedule. ie. you “schedule” a limited number of “bail out” days each month which you take if/when you need them. if you don’t nail the half-mara next week, chalk it up to training. it’s only the first week of the year and you’ll have many more opportunities to achieve your goals. Happy new year!

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