Writing has always been therapeutic for me. I’ve been struggling with a decision, and I’ve gone back and forth on it for a couple weeks now. I’m hoping that writing it out for the world to see will help get some clarity! Or at least maybe some of your comments will help.
As you know, I signed up for the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon (which takes place Memorial Day weekend) after a particularly wonderful long run during my New York Marathon training. I was having runner’s high and I decided I want to try to push myself to see if it were possible to PR/BQ at Mountains 2 Beach, a course known to be fast. I knew that I wouldn’t be close at New York, but I knew with 6 more months of dedicated training that it could be possible to regain my old fitness and then some.
And then the New York Marathon happened. It was hard. It was honestly quite miserable. It made me question why I ever run marathons. I have that thought during a lot of races but this was different – I had a sense of apathy about the race. I knew I had to finish the New York Marathon but I questioned if I wanted to ever finish another one, at least anytime soon.
Training for a marathon isn’t what it used to be before we had a child. During training I spend several hours away from my family on Saturday morning, which means that Mike is on baby duty and can’t do anything himself. He spends his weeks working and then spends his Saturday morning without me. I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been a source of contention for us. In the old days, we’d both go out for a training run and then come home and eat a big breakfast and possibly take a nap. Now, I’m away and when I get home he wants to spend time with me. We aren’t napping because we have too much to do and/or have some event to get off to. I’m not recovering like I did before because I’m on my feet chasing an active toddler for the majority of the day and can’t catch up on sleep, even with a baby who sleeps though the night.
And then there’s the case of whether or not I truly believe I have what it takes to PR/BQ at Mountains 2 Beach. Honestly, I am not sure. I think it could happen but a part of me also thinks I may put in six months of hard training and sacrifice just to be disappointed and in pain again on race day again (and honestly I’m not even sure if I qualify I will even be able/want to run the 2018 Boston Marathon because we plan to have another child at some point). Of course, no races are guaranteed, ever. That’s a given. Marathons are about the journey, not the destination and that is why I don’t regret running the New York Marathon – I truly did enjoy the training. I’m at a point right now though, that the training doesn’t excite me. I’ve been enjoying doing my 21 Day Fix workouts and not having to run on a schedule. Yesterday I kind of forced myself to go out for a stroller run because if I didn’t, I would have not run for 4 days in a row.
On the flip side, I ran a marathon 4 weeks ago and I’m probably still recovering. I know that a period of downtime is probably needed for me to get excited about racing/training again. But then I fear if I take too much time off that I won’t be able to maintain the base I built training for New York and I’ll be starting from scratch again and then definitely won’t be ready for a PR effort at Mountains 2 Beach. When I met with the coach of the Seaside Striders he recommended I keep a base of 4 runs a week including a 2 hour long run on the weekends until training starts in January. That’s still a significant amount of running!
The question here isn’t whether or not I’ll stop running. The questions is, do I commit to running a marathon or do I train for some shorter distance races? Will the pleasure I get from training for a shorter race be enough to satisfy that craving? Despite being away from my family on Saturday mornings, I really do enjoy that “me” time. Another consideration I’m having is that I was planning to join the Seaside Striders for their marathon training program, and if I don’t do the marathon, it doesn’t make financial sense for me to pay for the coaching and program. I was looking forward to joining this group, pushing myself to get faster and making new friends. On the flip side, I don’t have any good friends training for spring marathons so I’ll be sacrificing time with my family to run with people who aren’t friends (but likely will become friends!). However, if I don’t train for the marathon, and instead just do a half marathon, who will I run with!? My three best long run buddies are abroad, pregnant or injured.
Still reading after that list of First World problems!? I’m pretty sure everyone is going to say exactly what I’m thinking after spewing out my thoughts- I need more time to decide.
Thoughts? Have you ever signed up for a race and then realized it may not be the best idea?
While I don’t have children I can relate. The last two marathons I’ve signed up for I’ve ultimately decided against. I’ve been so much happier training for shorter distances. I would definitely give it a fair shot. Plus if you ever do decide to train for another marathon you’ll have a lot of speed to help your marathon.
You can train virtually with me!! I completely feel that, I do all my running alone or with my husband on the rare occasion that we can get out the door together. It’s hard to run solo a lot… but it’s also really satisfying in some ways. When I left Washington I left behind a huge team of women and my sister and dang if I don’t miss them…
but I’m in that same boat as you where it does become a source of contention if I start floating the ideas of longer races. It’s hard for me because I have all these goals, and I’ve always believed that even as a parent, I am not obligated to let go of everything else-that it’s really better for my kiddo to see me pursue things I love-because I want him to pursue things he loves (besides video games dangit). But now with a husband, even though we both met as endurance athletes-it takes a back burner to all the other stuff on our plates and sometimes he’s fussy when I say I’m going to run, and he wants to run, so I tell him to go, and he worries about compromising family time (but that’s a whole nother debate-is it really quality time if we’re all just zoned out to the tv, on our phones or tablets -half the time Ben is perusing youtube videos with headphones on! It would be fine to run then!!)
So really I’ve provided no help, but at least a little solidarity in “I get where you are at” because I WANT to do a 70.3… I WANT to PR the marathon. Buuuuut I am slowly realizing I can be satisfied with PR-ing the half, or the 10k. After my 2 marathons this year I wasn’t interested in doing it again. At all. Sometimes I feel the spark a little but other times, I just remember it didn’t bring me any joy at the time, and I’m not sure it would yet. Esp if I know in the back of my mind that it’s causing friction. That takes a lot of the joy out of running.
But I’d happily virtually train for shorter stuff!! 😉
Nicole I still get a teary eyed thinking about what you went through at the finish of CIM–that alone I think explains your trepidation and fear about wanting to commit the time and energy towards training for a full. I think you still need time to recover from New York. Make it through the holidays, enjoy running for fun. If you keep up a strong base, you could get away with a 12 week marathon training cycle and start training in Feb. Also, reframe from ” instead just do a half-marthon” to “instead do a half-marathon”. Training for a half requires a lot less time and racing one well is a challenge that could fit your need to push yourself. <3
Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue
Oh, Wow, So much to think about! I completely agree that training & racing since having kids is very different. I don’t have as much free time, and I don’t want to spend so much of my free time away from my kids. I would like to do another marathon someday but I know that it’s not possible right now, so I am focusing on the half marathon and hope to PR in 2017. I think you could run a killer half marathon! It is still a challenge and an accomplishment. I also think you could do great at M2B. Maybe it’s still just post NYC burnout talking. It’s always taken me at least a month to get back into running after doing a marathon.
First off- there is no right answer just the one that’s right for you right now. You can change it up along the way. I have always thought I could keep dreaming and doing those things that I want to do but just not everything at the same time. Some people seem to be able to juggle it all; kids, husbands, jobs, endurance sports or other hobbies, volunteer things etc. I couldn’t. I want to do the best I can at all I do so that means having less on my plate so I have less stress. Fitness and long training plans did change priority a bit but as the kids developed their own interests and have grown up, I resumed long distance running and triathlons. Now saying that, it was both my husband and myself that changed our priorities a bit. A friend of mine’s husband wanted to keep up his golf time but didn’t like when she took time with the girls. There needs to be some fairness. Choosing to spend time with your family is great but “me” time is too. I still ran and biked and stayed active all these years but tried to take my kids along, involved them and have fun with it. Then they started running in 5 kms with us after they were old enough to and through time I have been able to bring the more competitive spirit back into my fitness. I am also secretly thinking of trying to BQ in 2017 but also have a few big triathlons planned so also weighing the pros and cons of my time and stress to do these things.
Whatever you choose to do doesn’t mean you are giving up something. It is just postponed until the time is right.
Leslie @ Triathlete Treats
I don’t think your heart is in it!! I don’t think you are mentally ready either. I would nix it and run when you feel like it. Maybe do some short races or maybe not. Keep up with the 21 day fixes and just have fun for a while. There is always races, Boston will always be there every.single. April. Why sacrifice your time with Mike and Siena?!!
This post definitely sounded like it had way more cons than pros ( from an outsiders perspective)… but honestly if you are questioning it this much it doesnt seem like it’s something you really really want to do. Just my two cents 🙂
Haha yes I realized I did not really list out the pros, did I? Still thinking it over. I appreciate the advice!
Nicole, I am struggling with something similar but a different scenario (I am trying to commit to having time to do the 21-day fix workouts for a solid month!). So while I cannot comment or give you advice on you running the marathon, I can speak to you from a mom/wife’s perspective and maybe help you with your decision from that point of view. I have 5 children (ranging in age from 15-26) and we’ve recently “adopted” our 13 year old nephew. I am also married and both me and my husband work full time. Once we return from work, there is the typical nightly things to do — homework with nephew, dinner, clean-up, putting out any fires that have erupted during the day. And we are trying to put our house on the market and start a new chapter of our life. Although I could carve out time in my day to do the workouts (and I NEED too), I can’t commit right now because my mind and heart is on my family. So I have had to come to terms that the workouts will go on the back burner for a while. And I have finally got to where I am okay with this. Because I know it’s NOT permanent. So give yourself some grace as you muddle through the process of deciding what’s best for you and your family. There is no WRONG answer; your answer or solution will be perfect for your family at the time that you make it. You will know when you need to change your decision or come up with a new plan. Please be forgiving of yourself. You have such a wonderful life with baby and hubby; I know it’s difficult to find the right path to take. But you and hubby put each other first and allocate the remaining time to baby and personal interests. I promise that things will work out. I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts while you are going through this. Take care.
I definitely agree with Jess and Leslie. Marathon training is tough enough when you’re 100% committed let alone feeling pulled in several different directions at once. I think you owe yourself some time to find the fun and joy of it. It’s not like marathons are going anywhere and a break to focus on shorter, funner distances might just be what you need to refresh and re-set. (I did it by aiming to PR at the 10k after I went back to work and had less time after baby – i used a more aggressive pace-based plan and broke the 50 minute barrier that had been plaguing me. Way less time commitment but i still felt bad-ass)
Best of luck deciding!
I think in these sort of situations people are looking for confirmation of what they already know deep down. So for that reason I will just offer you my take on your post. For me, even though it’s presented as a “pros/cons” list, the tone gives a strong indication that you don’t really want to do the M2B. You mention doing some shorter races. That seems like a decent compromise. Good luck deciding 🙂
I appreciate the analysis and honesty! 🙂
I completely understand your hesitation! I have been *thinking* about running another marathon (I ran one with my husband on our 1 year anniversary 10 years ago, and swore up and down I would NEVER do that again!) However, my best friend and running partner is doing one next spring and I’d be lying if I wasn’t intrigued. The main thing that holds me back is your comment on kids. I have a 3 and 5 year old, and since the oldest is in school and I work 5 days/week, I am extremely aware that I get very limited time with them. We also get very limited “family time,” and Saturday mornings are pretty precious to us. Luckily training for half marathons seems way less intrusive in our family time, but it was still hard this past summer training. I am leaning towards taking some time off of training and just focusing on strength. My plan is to run the Atlantic City half marathon next October. We shall see. Good luck with your decision!