Thursday, August 9, 2012

Don't Panic; Just Breathe!

Have you ever signed up for a race event that every time you thought about it you suffered a very mild and minor panic attack?  Well, I have.  And sometimes I wonder what gets into me when I sign up for these things.

I did this to myself last year when I signed up for the Pikes Peak Half Marathon Ascent.  And, I have done it to myself again this year by signing up for the Jungfrau Marathon.

Now, mostly I can keep the panic pretty well hidden and under wraps by utilizing a very simple technique: I don't think about it.  (Bet you thought I was going to say take deep breaths, right?)  There comes a point, however, that with the event looming right around the corner, just not thinking about it doesn't work anymore.  I appear to be at that point with the Jungfrau.

The Jungfrau Marathon is only 29 days away, and I am in danger of totally and completely FREAKING OUT!

Whereas I successfully suppressed this race in my head for the better part of a year, responding to anyone who asked with a tired - oh yeah, I am running up the side of one of the fabled Alps in September (*yawn*), much to the delight of my listener du jour, I am now sending anyone who inquires scurrying away in fear of catching my crazy cooties as I tell them, Holy @@#$, what the %^$%^$ have I gotten myself into? I am @@#$&%&% running up an Alp NEXT MONTH! 

Just breathe.

Sometimes I don't know what I am thinking.  I know I tend not to worry too much anymore when I register if a race is over my head, but a mountain?  Again?  Mountains are WAY over my head, both literally and figuratively.

What's got me freaked out right now are the cutoffs for this event.  They have two cutoffs, which from what I read, they take very seriously.  If you don't make them, you are done.  If you don't heed them and carry on anyway, you will be shunned and branded a pariah for not following the Swiss rules of the game.  If you do heed the officials, then you will get a receipt (no joke! that's what it said) to pick up your medal and shirt at the finish.  At least that is what I have read.  So, what would I do if I were told I was done with 4K to go?  Well, probably take the medal and shirt.  (Hanging head sheepishly.  I want to have something to show for this.)

I shouldn't even care about finishing.  When I signed up for this a year ago, I did so FULLY KNOWING that I probably couldn't finish in the 6.5 hour time limit.  I mean, my marathon "PR" so far is only 4:55.  And while they say you should figure on adding an hour and a half to your typical marathon time, that is cutting it VERY close.  In any case, I have somewhere along the way decided I DO care if I finish.  I want this very badly, and there was a time I thought I could do it.  My training plan was aggressive but I was STRONG.  Unfortunately, the hamstring issue that took center stage for a month came at a bad time.  Long runs were derailed and hill work was put on hold.  While I feel I am getting somewhat back in the saddle this past week, I am almost done.  One and a half weeks until I reach taper time.


So, the cutoff that has me flipping out? Well, there are two, but it is only the second one I am really concerned about.  The first one is at 30.3K (18.83 miles).  You have to reach that point in 4:10.  While tough, I think I can do that, as there is only one serious climb for one mile before that point.  The second one, though, is harder.  I have to reach 37.9K (23.55 miles) in 5:35.  Between cutoff 1 and cutoff 2, of course, comes some of the most serious climb.

The thing that mentally throws me here is that my best marathon time is 4:55.  I have to reach mile 23.55 in 5:35, and that with the serious climb thrown in. I just don't know if that is enough padding.  What gets me is that you then have 55 minutes to complete 4K, 2K of which are downhill.  It just doesn't seem fair, because I think I can do that stretch in under 55 minutes.

My Hubby is looking out for me.  He sends me spreadsheets of paces and times supposedly demonstrating that I can do this, but I look at those and I feel lost.  All I see are a bunch of numbers and I have no concrete idea of how that translates into real-world me.  I love him dearly, but I am not a spreadsheet gal.


So, that is what has got me freaked out.  One little cutoff.  I am not really thinking about the distance, which I suppose I should be.  After all, this is only going to be my third marathon and I am not particularly well trained for it at this point.  I am not concerned about the altitude, which everyone makes a big deal of.  After all, the altitude at the finish is only slightly higher than Pikes Peak's starting altitude and I got through that.  I am concerned about the climbs. I'll be facing grades upwards of 16 percent at some points.  I am concerned about the possibility of having to look over drop-offs.  If they are bad, that could have me pulling out of the race right there.  Ugh.

It's pictures like these that have be flipping out over
drop-offs.  (Source)
Here is another one. (Source)
So, that's where I am at.  Just breathing.

How about you? Do you ever sign up for events that cause minor (or major panic attacks?)


  1. Wow, I would be nervous too! That probably doesn't help you any.:) But if you don't reach the goal, just think about how cool it is that you are running up the alps! But I really, really hope you make the cutoffs because that will make the finish even sweeter.

  2. I am so glad that I am not the only one freaking out about the cutoff times!! My PR is 4:25 two years ago and had not much time to train. But I am ready for the challenge. Are you running by yourself? Let me know if you are looking for a running partner.
    I am originally from switzerland and live in the states for the last 31 years. My wife and I will be visiting family and I had the crazy idea to sign up for this!!!