Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mind is Everything - Paavo Nurmi

A few days ago my question was "How the hell am I going to run 6 miles on Sunday when I am struggling with 2?" Well, I found the answer today - you run 6 miles with your head.
I spent most of yesterday thinking mostly about Paavo Nurmi - the person whom I revere as the god of my running universe. Those are his words which grace the top of my blog: "Mind is everything: muscle, pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind". This is something all runners know - but it is really hard to remember that when you are having a difficult moment. It is hard to overcome what Lasse Viren calls "the barriers of the mind". It is so much easier to give in to the discomfort and pain. But how to wrap your mind around it?
I often think that running is about paying tribute to the spirit. Firstly your own, and then to all those who came before you. I felt that the issues I was facing were mind-related. Having established that, I felt grateful that I had no muscular or joint issues, given that, I could actually try out this running-with-your-mind business.
I felt washed out on the starting line in Hyannis this morning. It was a cold grey day with showers threatening on the horizon. The 10K, half marathon and marathon all started together and there were sections of the start sectioned off according to pace. I made my way towards the back of the 9 minute mile section, where I was joined by a few of the other Luna Chix.
I thought I would start out slowly and then step it up at mile 5 if I was feeling ok. However, as soon as I started running, my mind drifted to Paavo Nurmi. This was no time to pussyfoot around, so I stepped on it. And ran and ran and ran. Today I ran to the best of my current ability. I ran the fastest pace that I could and never did I even think of slowing down. In the end I ran the 10K in 58:39, giving me a pace of 9:27. I placed 203 in a field of 444 runners, and I placed 14/39 in my age group.
I could not feel my legs when I crossed the finish line, and I now not only felt completely washed out, but brain-washed out too. I picked up my medal and went for a lovely choclately doughnut, cortesy of Dunkin' Donuts. I am happy with what I did today. It's not the best performance I've ever had, but I would like to think that today I ran with my mind - my legs merely complied with the motion.

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