I had a dead battery epiphany last week on my evening run. My GPS battery went out after 2 miles, but I decided to go ahead and run my 10 miles anyway and figure out my average pace at the end. Usually I’m watching my real time pace and trying to stay at 8:50, which would mean beating the 2 hour barrier in the half marathon coming up.
Without being able to watch my watch that night, I ran a little faster than usual… to make sure I wouldn’t go over 9-minute pace. When I got home, I was surprised to see that I had run an 8:11 pace for 10 miles, way faster than I thought I was capable of! I had convinced myself that I was an 8:50 runner for so long that I was living up to that limited expectation.
Breaking 2-hours in a half marathon is a goal that has eluded me for 3 years. Each time I have made a costly mistake or suffered an injury that kept the 2-hour mark just out of reach. I have turned in times of 2:06, 2:04 and 2:02, all respectable times for an amateur runner of my age, but they all start with “2.”
Today, on a misty cool San Francisco morning, I set out once more to achieve this goal. This course goes across the Golden Gate Bridge and includes serious hills, making it even more of a challenge. Just before the starting gun at 5:32am, I thought back to my dead battery episode and did something very out of character for me. I turned off my GPS and my watch so that I was “running blind” again. I took a deep breath, and visualized crossing the finish line at 1:55.
I ran with purpose. I ran with focus. I ran with freedom from fear. You see, since I was now NOT afraid of NOT exceeding 2 hours, I was able to purely picture success at 1:55. I did not even look for the mile markers along the way.
As I came up into Golden Gate Park, I knew the end was near, and sprinted the last 300 yards or so. And as the finish line clock came into focus, I saw 1:54 and pumped my fist in the air. I crossed at almost exactly 1:55 for 13.1 miles.
Have you possibly imposed artificial limits on what you are capable of? Measuring progress is important, but have you been staring too closely at a watch or a scale and getting frustrated? I’m taking another look at how I am attacking my goals now. Perhaps preventing the self-fulfilling prophecy is the key to fulfilling oneself.