Monday, January 24, 2011

Keep Focused by Marie Ferrell

TNT coaches Ed and Marie Ferrell
Keep focused. You will hear it often but what does it mean? For me it use to be all about getting to the finish line, but lately it has changed. I have gotten much more confident in my running. There is no question that I will finish a race so now I can focus on bettering my time. After all, I have had a string of good (for me) half marathons including one where I fell down at mile four, got back up and finished just short of my best time.

So as I prepared for the Donna Half Marathon I had nothing to worry about, right? Wrong!! I was feeling a little sick on race morning, but I always get a little nervous so this was normal. I started out okay but as the miles progressed I felt more and more sick and weak. Was this just my head getting to me? Everyone must face the fact that at some time prior to or during a race your head is going to tell you that you can't do this. It lies! Maybe this was my only problem. Nope, my head was still telling me I could set a new pr. However, my body was telling me that if I ran one more step I was going to be sick. So I started walking. This was not at "Marie, the walk coach" pace but rather at "that lady you can't get around at the mall" pace. It is at this time focus becomes critical. You concentrate on getting past the next group of spectators, to get to the next water stop or maybe even to get up to that cute puppy so you can stop and pet it. In my case I began to think about Rutger Beke. Who is Rutger Beke you ask? He is an Ironman. For those of you who don't know about the Ironman Triathalon it is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a full marathon. I think anyone who tries this is amazing and Beke is one of the best. He came into the 2007 Ironman World Championship confident. After all, he was wearing the number 4, denoting what place he had finished in the previous year's event. Race day proved to be very rough for many of the leaders. Several had to drop out, some throwing temper tantrums as they did so. Beke did well in both the swim and the bike and was in contention for a top finish. Then came the marathon and as he said his legs "just wouldn't fire". So he started walking. He was passed over and over again by "age group" runners and he accepted their encouragement graciously with a smile and a wave. One older lady passed him and encouraged him to run with her but he had to say "you are just to fast for me".

He kept his focus on the finish line and when he finished hours later than expected and in 188th place, the smile on his face looked much like it did in 2008 when he came in 3rd at the same event. My smile could have matched his on that Sunday. It would have been so easy to quit. I hadn't raised money to get to the race, no one was counting on me and at mile ten I passed my hotel. I finished, 43 minutes later than I planned, but I finished. Much like the people we run for, I didn't quit and compared to what they go through on a daily basis, this was easy. So focus on the finish line and much more importantly focus on why you are doing this. Remember one of my favorite phrases, "Run, Walk or Crawl. Just Finish!!!"

Marie Ferrell is a TNT alumna and coach. She first joined TNT in 2007 for the Country Music Marathon in honor of her sister Julie. TNT is a family affair for Marie. Her husband Ed is also a coach and she is currently coaching her nephew Dustin (Julie's son) for the 2011 Publix Georgia Marathon.

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