It doesn’t get easier, you just go faster.
– Greg LeMond
I went out for my 3-miler this morning, and immediately felt crappy. My legs didn’t feel like they were waking up, and there was a general tired-ness about the whole affair. I knew two minutes in that this wasn’t going to be one of those enjoyable runs that comes around every now and then. Nope – I had a slog on my hands.
I’ve been thinking lately about an upcoming running / racing schedule. Back in 2013, I had my goal of running an event in every month, with a couple of big, checkbox, kind of events out in the future (Ragnar Tennessee, RnR Va Beach Half Marathon). Those things helped motivate me, and I got enough nerve up to register for a full marathon. Though my nerve got me to register, my brain didn’t compute all of the variables. I made it through my 16-mile long run before I realized I’d never be able to get all of my training in during the winter. Early spring marathons, it turns out, are really tough for people that live where it snows and gets cold. So instead of attempting the full, I switched my registration to the half marathon. I let the goal get away despite the fitness level.
But the goal didn’t die. It exists. I’ve got my half marathon in January, just registered for a 10K in April (Star Wars – The Dark Side Half Marathon weekend at Disneyworld), and then … nothing planned. But I will be checking that marathon box. My parents taught me (quite literally) that when you fall off a horse, you have to get right back on – for your sake and the horse’s. I’m back on the horse. Fall of 2016 – here I come.
This all ran through my mind as I was slogging through a random Thursday 3-miler. The zombies made me run hard just once, and so I was able to let it wander. And then I got back to the house and checked my pace. It was still slower than I know I’ll be able to run – but it was the fastest run I’ve done since I quit running last July. It sucked because I was running “fast”.
I’ll take it.
Today I changed my registration at the Rock & Roll USA event from the marathon to the half marathon. And I’m having a bit of a sad.
There are a lot of
excuses reasons, but the bottom line is that I’m not ready. And I don’t have enough time between now and then to get ready. My primary goal when I attempt a marathon is to do the most possible to set myself up for success – which is defined as finishing within the time limit. I’ve seen enough examples of folks that rushed into their first marathon and felt relatively strong right up until mile 20 or 22, when they were asked to leave the course and bussed to the finish line and given a medal.
I don’t want that. I want to cover all 26.2 miles myself. And I want to know that my medal is a true “finisher’s” medal. This is not to take away from those that have done that and are proud of it – however you earned that medal, you have a right to be proud of it. But I want my experience to be different. I just do.
For the record, I’m not hurt. I’m just dozens and dozens of miles behind in my training, and the way the weather and my calendar are going I’m not going to be able to make it up. And, therefore, it is time for a change.
I’ve been struggling with this decision for a week or so. One of the things that is remarkable to me is how hard it has been to decide to back away from the marathon. There is a true multi-layered investment in making a decision to run a marathon. I can think of at least three layers:
- Physical – This is going to hurt at some level. Your body physically commits to doing this, and as you start pushing the edges of what you consider possible you are doubling down on the physical commitment that you made.
- Time – I have spent hours and hours running to get ready for this. My 16 mile run last weekend took over 3 hours alone. And though I understood there was a time commitment, I don’t think I fully understood how difficult it is. One often overlooked element of this one is that a commitment you make of your time is not just yours – your family shares in that commitment. They give up that time with you, and so they had better be on board. That was not an acute problem for me – my family has been very supportive – but I am acutely aware of their commitment, too.
- Emotional – There is a certain level of energy required to mentally prepare for a marathon. And a large piece of that requirement involves believing, all the way down, that this is something that you can and will do. You have to make success a part of your emotional core. This marathon “thing” becomes like its own living entity within you. And when it comes time to think about letting it go … that’s an emotional decision, and making it comes with emotional baggage and, frankly, a mourning period.
My mourning period just started. I am hoping it goes quickly and I can start embracing the new half marathon PR that I’m going to go get. In the meantime, I will try and dwell on how great it feels to be in good enough shape that I can consider running a half marathon in 6 weeks not just achievable but, without injury, a done deal. In the long run I don’t want to settle for that … but for now, I will take it.
Also – I’m ready for spring now.