Hey Mark: Thanks for the Motivation - Part One
“You know that course was short, right?”
This was the fact my sometimes training partner and friend Mark was quick to point out after I excitedly told him about a personal record I ran in a local 5k race two summers ago.
My success came after a spring of little to no training, so for my running to progress to a 15 second PR and one second better than Mark's best time was colossal coup.
“Yeah, so-and-so went out on the course with his bike yesterday and measured it. It was about a 150 meters short,” he continued in earnest.
You see, Mark is my fiercest competitor. A competition borne when we reunited five years ago through running by way of a year-long tenure as classmates in high school.
At this point in his training, he had surpassed my race times in the 5k and the marathon distance and was well on his way to topping me in the half marathon by the end of that summer.
These were all distances I had beaten him in since the beginning of our runnership, so you can probably imagine how much his next words stung:
“Man, I thought that was a really fast pace…for you."
Mark is a short and slightly stout man with thick legs like fire hydrants. Not exactly the frame you’d imagine for an accomplished weekend warrior runner who finishes races in the top .05 percent of all runners.
His gait is built more for sprinting short-bursts around the diamond or gridiron than traversing the pavement as a distance runner. But like many endurance runners he has some freakish genetics with a really big engine (heart) and a pocket-rocket of a frame (body).
Fortunately for me that day at the track, though, Mark's glib tongue was just about as nimble as his gait.
His passive aggressive comments capsulated the truth I didn’t want to admit to when he shellacked me at the Chicago Marathon the fall before: Mark had become a better runner.
That hot fall day at CM08, Mark stomped a giant Nike imprint on my marathon PR by almost four minutes. Meanwhile, I fell apart at mile thirteen, overheated and my lactic acid lit up my body like the neon green of a Lunar Racer. I walked then jogged, then walked again and continued this humbling pattern for the last 12 miles.
There were many places for blame that day; the day was hot, I wasn't feeling well and my body had a bad day. But the biggest reason for failure was simple: I was delusional about my fitness. My speedwork and mileage were nowhere near solid enough to maintain the torrid 6:20 pace. I hadn't prepared well enough. I was kidding myself that past marathon success predicted future marathon success.
Mark had outworked me in every facet of running. He was more dedicated and wanted the personal success more than I wanted it.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Kevin Granato is a running coach for Granato Racing, a 2:44:00 marathoner and freelance writer. Feel free to email him at CoachGranato@TheRunningInstitute.com.