Thursday, March 12, 2009


Friends have started to notice and comment on the fact that I am newly motivated and training hard for the first time in a long time. How could they not notice? I'm putting it out there, posting my training on my blog and telling friends about my goals. This is a scary thing for me to do. I'm training hard and not keeping it a secret. It's one thing to go into races injured and under-trained. I would have mediocre performances at races and friends would still say, "hey look, you didn't really even train and you did OK." No matter how I finished, I would tell myself I did better than I expected. But going into races well trained puts some pressure on me. I'm starting to think a little bit of pressure might be a good thing.

I am working hard for my own personal satisfaction, I want to see what I can do at this point in my life. But I also have to admit that there were outside influences that gave me a little push towards getting fit again. Over the last 8 months there were three different incidents involving people who don't even know they helped get me motivated again.

Incident #1: I jumped into a 24 hour race late last summer in hopes of getting a 50 mile run in. Fast runner H. pulled along side of me a few hours into the run and we chatted a little bit. I introduced myself as Laurel from Maine. He said, "what a coincidence that there would be two ultrarunners named Laurel from Maine. There used to be a fast ultrarunner named Laurel from Maine that could run 50 miles in 7 hours or so." I answered, "I know it's hard to believe, looking at this slow sluggish runner beside you, but I'm the same Laurel." He turned beet red, mumbled some sort of apology, and took off.

Incident #2: After a Fall trail 50, I was in the parking lot cleaning up. Seeing my license plate, two runners came over and said they were from Maine, too. Maine has a very small ultrarunning community and I recognized their names when they introduced themselves. I said, "Oh, I've heard your names many times, it's nice to finally meet you." When I told them my name they looked at me with blank stares. They didn't say it, but they might as well have, "never heard of you." It suddenly dawned on me that I wasn't part of the Maine trail and ultrarunning community anymore. When did that happen?

Incident #3: My friend Tom told me, "I was talking to B.P. last night and he asked what ever happened to Laurel? She just dropped off the face of the Earth." I stopped him right there. I didn't want to know what his answer to that was. I have heard "what ever happened to..." conversations before. You know, one runner says "what ever happend to (insert name of former olympic trials marathoner)?" and the other runner says, "she gave up running and took up drinking and smoking. She looks like Hell." Or one runner says, "What ever happened to (insert name of local frequent road racer)" and the other runner says "I saw her in Dunkin Donuts with a chocolate glazed donut in her hand. I swear she's put on 20 pounds since I last saw her." How did I become the topic of a "what ever happened to..." conversation?

Motivation comes in many different forms. Sometimes you just need someone to hold a mirror up so you can see what you have become. Injuries and personal issues had stripped me of my desire to train hard and see how much I was capable of doing. I had become slow and lazy and satisfied with good enough. I am very lucky to have had that mirror held up for me to take a look at myself, not once, but three times in recent months.

Todays' run was a 30 minute "hill tempo". It sounded pretty benign when I heard what I was supposed to do, but it turned out to extremely difficult. See my training log for details. It feels very good to have completed it. Paul is giving me just the right amount of challenge in my training so far. I think I made a good decision in asking him for coaching help.

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