(Not) Going Down In A Blaze of Glory: Two weeks out from the North Face 50km Race

Jon Bon Jovi

Doing speedwork on the treadmill this morning to my favorite Bon Jovi songs, I was letting the lyrics do the work of lifting the pace, trying not to sing out loud because there were other people running too.  “Blaze of Glory” came on – I was nearly at my maximum pace, flying, lip singing, holding back on punching my fist in the air, “I’m going dooowwwnnn in a blaze of glory…”, having a heck of a time, and then it hit me:

It is thirteen days until the North Face 50km Race in the Blue Mountains.  I don’t actually want to go down in a blaze of glory.  No blazing, no end, no “dying like a man” or woman, for that matter.  I want to finish this race strong, powerful, tired but capable of doing it again another day.  Maybe even going further.

So, I’m changing my playlist, especially the outdoor one.  Outdoors, I don’t use an iPod, but  I do run with an internal playlist going at all times, sometimes in my head (when I’m with a group, or passing other runners), but when I’m alone, I sing out loud.  As I told my husband, it’s so much easier to change the song than on an iPod.

One day recently, at the back of the pack, climbing a steep hill with the Dandenongs Trail Runners, about 25km into our 30km run, the song went something like this (from Bon Jovi’s new album): “Does anybody want, does anybody need, does anybody want what’s left of me…”.  Wasn’t much left at that stage – that’s why it was so perfect.  During the 28km Two Bays Trail Run, my longest race at the time, the song was by Frank Sinatra, My Way, but just the bit where he sings, “there were times, I’m sure you knew, when I bit off more than I could chew…”  I didn’t choose that one; it began playing in my head all by itself.  During the Surfcoast Century, which we did as a relay team of four:  “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller, doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.  What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter, footsteps even lighter, doesn’t mean I’m over ’cause you’re gone…”

The playlist matters.

It is thirteen days and counting down to the big day.  I have hit a more subdued frame of mind, where I am having faith that the training I have done is correct, and will pay off.  As I have begun tapering, dropping back from my longest run of 43km in training, to 30, and then 22 last week, I have noticed a new energy flowing in me.  I feel a bit like a coiled spring.  My fast runs have become lighter, more flowing, and the aches in my hips have mostly subsided.

Then, today, my race number (5113) arrived in the mail, along with a lengthy Emergency Instructions card, and a massive map.  I could barely read the Emergency Card, it was so frightening, though it was slightly reassuring that I’d thought of most of the potential emergencies already.  I even had a couple they hadn’t thought of!

I do wonder about the auspiciousness of my race number 5113.  It was at the 13km mark on the Roller Coaster Run back in March that I tripped and went flying through the air during my superman stunt.  But perhaps I have already used up the bad luck associated with that number?  In any case, it is better than the number 5114.  When I lived in Hong Kong, I learned that the numbers 14 and 4 were very unlucky, because they sounded, in Cantonese, like the phrases “certain death” and “death”.  So there are a few numbers that would be worse for me (sorry to those of you who got them, but if you’ve never lived in Hong Kong, I don’t think the unlucky bit counts!).

A typical elevator bank in Hong Kong – notice what numbers are missing?

So, this is how it feels two weeks out from the biggest race of my life, the race that I have spent eight months building for, that terrifies me one moment, and thrills me the next.  I have to remind myself that I have stood at many, many start lines, wondering what I was doing, wondering how I was going to face the challenge I had set for myself.

Each time, I have come through.

The theme song for this race?  Army of One, again from Bon Jovi’s latest album.  This will be my mantra, “Never give up, never give up, never, never give up, never let up, ever, never give in, never give up, never give up, never forget where you’re from, you’re an army of one….”  Set on repeat play in my head.  Find it on YouTube and listen.

The other words I’m tucking into my subconscious are by Malcom Law, author of “One Step Beyond”.  When he was running ridiculous distances in New Zealand, and the going got tough, his mantra was  “relentless forward motion”.  I like the feel of those words.  Thanks, Malcolm.  http://runningwildnz.com/

1stepbeyond_cvr

Now I’m off to laminate my map…and Emergency Card…

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