I made a tough decision this weekend. After 14 weeks of training for the Surf City marathon, I’ve decided to run the half marathon. I’m not injured or sick or have suddenly realized that the Super Bowl is that day and I need to rush home to watch it. I’ve just realized that running a full marathon on February 3 isn’t going to get me to my 2013 goals.
My original goal was to try to qualify for Boston at Surf City. At some point during the first month or so of my training (and probably sometime around running Long Beach half nowhere close to my BQ pace), I realized that Surf City was a little too early for my first attempt. So I decided to just PR at Surf City and choose a 2nd race in the Spring for the BQ.
During a long run with some fellow bloggers in San Francisco, the idea was hatched that we’d all run the Eugene Marathon for a girls weekend. Without doing the math about how many weeks that was after Surf City or the half marathon I signed up for in March, I immediately jumped on board with the idea. I then decided that Eugene would be my first BQ attempt. I wasn’t even sure that I’d be ready for a BQ then but I knew it would be a good race (and I’ve heard it’s fast!).
Properly running and recovering from a marathon takes 6 weeks. There are three weeks of taper before and three weeks of recovery afterward. Running a marathon does some serious damage to your body and it’s not something to be taken lightly. I’ve made SO much progress toward my goal in the last month and a half especially and at this point I’m getting really confident that I can get my BQ at Eugene. I really don’t want anything to get in the way of it and I’m afraid that running a full marathon and taking the time to properly taper and recover will take away from my training.
I didn’t fully understand how running Surf City full would affect my BQ goal at Eugene until I mapped out my 12 week training plan for the weeks between Surf City and Eugene. Advanced Marathoning has a chapter about multiple marathoning and there is a quote from it which got me thinking “This chapter is for those occasions when, for whatever perverse reason, you’ve decided to run two marathons with 12 weeks or less between. Though doing two or more marathons in rapid succession isn’t generally the best way to go after a personal best time….”
Um….oops? I went to someone I trust for advice – Maria, a fellow blogger, triathlete and FAST marathoner who has recently become a coach. She gave me some valuable advice that I wasn’t really wanting to hear at first. I shouldn’t run the full marathon at Surf City if Eugene is my A race. My first instinct was to tell her that I was set on running it because I had just trained for 14 weeks, most of which included 14-20 mile long runs, pre-dawn 10-12 mile mid-week long runs, 9-11 mile tempo runs and the torture that is Yasso 800 intervals! I’ve been training for a marathon and I wanted to run it! She said if I really wanted to run the race, I should ditch my half marathon and 15k that I had planned. Not what I wanted to hear either. Last year when I was training for the Ironman I missed out on several local races that I had wanted to run due to training and this year I told myself I was going to race when I wanted to race. But the truth is, racing is hard on our bodies and it’s not beneficial to race too much. Thinking back to how long it took me to recover from the Ironman, I knew this was true.
I decided to wait to make my decision until I was more confident that Surf City wouldn’t be a BQ for me. On Saturday my plan had me scheduled for a 15k tune up race but of course they don’t exist in San Diego on a Saturday, so I took the advice from the book and replaced it with a 10 mile tempo run. I decided to make this a 10 mile BQ pace or faster run to see if I could do it and how hard it felt. Last year before Surf City I ran 10 miles at my goal pace of 8:45 min/miles and I remember it felt comfortably hard but not too hard. I ended up achieving my goal of a sub-3:50 marathon so I felt like this would be a good test.
After a good night’s sleep, coffee, breakfast and a good warm-up, I set out to run 10 miles at 8:12 min/miles or faster. I was very happy that yes, I was able to do it (and the final mile was 7:50!). It is definitely the fastest I’ve ever run 10 miles but I was still a bit disappointed at the end because it didn’t feel manageable for 16.2 more miles. I know there is race day magic and that we always run slower in training than on race day, but I just knew in my gut that I wasn’t ready. And even if my body was ready, my head wasn’t. I wouldn’t go into Surf City confident that I was going to BQ and we all know that half the battle in racing is mental toughness. I think that at Eugene I will go into the race knowing it will be my day and that mental confidence will be what keeps me going when it starts to hurt.
I’ve emailed the fine folks at the race already asking if I can make the switch, so unless they refuse me (which I doubt since the half isn’t sold out), I’ll be running the Surf City Half Marathon on February 3. And I plan to use this opportunity to knock another 2013 Goal off my list by running it in less than 1 hour 45 minutes.
Have you ever changed your race plans for the greater good? Also, please reassure me that I’m making the right choice!