Marathon Update: “Do You Want It Enough To Wait For It?”

On Sunday, September 9th, I set out to run 15 miles.  I had no excuses;  Sophia was not with me.  I didn’t have a client in the morning and while it was spitting rain, it was a solid 25-30 degrees cooler at 58 degrees than it had been the five days before when I originally had planned to run 15 miles.  I hydrated and slept well the night before; all signs pointed towards a good run.  


I ended up running the 15 miles in 2 hours and 10 minutes, averaging 8 minute 42 seconds per mile.  I had managed to run negative splits.   And I purposely ran all the hills I could, running two and a half loops of Central Park.  


When I finished, I cried.


The following Sunday, I set out for my first 18 miler of the season; NYRR has their 18 mile tune up, which consists of three loops of Central Park.  The weather was brutal; 70 degrees at 7am when the race started, and very humid.  


Similar to last year, when I ran the race and stopped for a solid ten minutes between mile 11-12, there were moments where I wanted to stop.  Mentally, though, I was determined to keep going.  Aside from the heat, there was no reason to stop.  And if I wanted to accomplish my goal? The only way is to keep moving forward.  So I finished; a solid 26 minutes faster than last year, 8 minutes faster than I did 8 years ago which was the year I finished the marathon in 3:50.  


I crossed the finish line.  I had nothing left in my tank.  I was somewhat wobbly on the legs.   A NYRR volunteer asked if I was okay. 


“Yes,” I said with a smile.  


And then I cried….again.  


In my newsletter, “Marathon Update: When Goals Are Made To Be Broken?” , I discussed the possibility that I may need to deviate from my goal of breaking 3:50.  While that may be true, what I can also say is these two long runs- back to back- were the first two long training runs I have had in two marathon seasons where I felt accomplished and satisfied; I felt both mentally and physically that I set out what I intended to accomplish.  And, in turn, I now feel my goal is in reach.


There is something extremely fulfilling and, yes, emotional, about giving it your all and seeing the results.  And instead of running to the next activity or lesson; I took a moment to recognize my accomplishment.   


Waiting For It: A Lesson from Heather Hansen


“Do You Want It Enough To Wait For It?”


Since September 6th, I have been partaking in Heather Hansen’s “30 Day of Trial Challenges” .  Heather, is a trial attorney, consultant, and author of “The Elegant Warrior: How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself” which comes out next spring.  I met Heather several years ago through a mutual friend; in taking part of her 30 day challenge, every day there is a new one for me and I find them incredibly applicable not only in marathon training, but in life.


On September 9th, the day of the 15 mile run, I got this quote from Heather: “Do You Want It Enough to Wait for It?”


Waiting and the acceptance of letting “things” take its natural course is most likely the most challenging lesson for any type-A person, and most certainly for marathon runners.  The absolute relinquishing of control for a goal oriented person feels incredibly out of alignment.  


And counter-intuitive to actually setting goals.


About a month ago, I had texted my running coach in frustration.  I could not figure out my pacing.  I “felt” I was running faster when my watch said I was not. Then my watch said I was running the pace I thought I was which felt the same as the pace that the watch said was slower.  How was I going to run for time when I could not even figure out my pacing?


“Take a break for a week from the time,” my coach told me.  “Just focus on getting the miles in.  Don’t worry about the time; the time will come.”


Have Patience: Learning to Settle


“Settling often looks like surrender, but letting go just might leave your hands free for exactly what you need.”


On Sunday, September 16th, the day of the 18 mile run, Heather’s lesson of the day was learning to settle.  Again, a challenging request for a goal oriented, type A, driven person.


I mean, me.


Ironically, it wasn’t until after my race where I saw Heather’s challenge.  Yet, I had this mindset already during my run.  I had my internal goal; I wanted to break 2:50, since when I had done the race in 2:52 it resulted in a 3:50 marathon.  And at the same time, I acknowledged it was a training day, the weather was sub-optimal, and finishing the 18 was most important than the time.


Instead of focusing on the finish, I got into the weeds; what was I feeling at that moment.  Where I was perhaps going to have to slow down my pace for a bit; where I could pick it up; where I needed to be breaking to hydrate; when I needed a gel.  I saw the 3:50 pace group pass me.  I relinquished.  I said to myself, “okay, 3:50 is attainable and I have 7 weeks to get there” instead of panicking that I wasn’t there TODAY.


And at the end of that DAY, I met my goal of breaking 2:50 with 2:44.


Marathon Training and Lessons in Life


Those were only two of the thirty challenges Heather is offering us; I urge you to join her challenge, as you still can, by going to


While this post was an update on my marathon training and applying some of these lessons towards that, I know many of these are applicable through other aspects of life. 


Waiting and settling are two of them.  And I look forward to working on these two- and the others- in and out of my training. 

Laura Kovall