Balance.

May 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Posted in And I ran (I ran so far away), motherhood | 10 Comments

I really am starting to wonder if I had post-half-marathon depression or something.

Because the past week and a half has been sort of miserable. On a lot of fronts.

The day after the run, I wanted a DO OVER. I wanted to go back and make it what I HOPED it would be. I wanted to sleep the whole night with my family in the hotel room WITH me. I wanted to nix the pre-race nerves and toddler temper tantrums. I wanted to be able to rest in the car on the way home, instead of driving the whole thing myself to spell my poor exhausted husband.

But mostly, I wanted to finish the race strong and feel accomplishment untainted by “well, I didn’t do the time I wanted, but whatever. I finished!”

I’m not saying that I’m NOT proud of finishing. I am.

I just sort of wish I had finished DIFFERENTLY, that’s all.

And then I got to work on Monday. And the auditors are here. And it’s their JOB to FIND stuff that was wrong.

And damned if they didn’t find some issues with MY area. Despite the fact that I worked my ASS off on making it squeaky clean.

And J and I fought over the course of two days, and O was off his game, and I got AF in full force and I was sore and it was raining.

Yada yada yada blah blah BLAH.

Basically it all just threw this MASSIVE weight on my shoulders.

I think I’m coming out of it now, though. The past couple of days I’ve felt my mood lift slightly.

It’s helped that I’m back to running again, though less distance and quite a bit slower. (My knees are inexplicably achy, so I want to take it easy.)

I’m also planning ahead, and finally made a decision on something that has been plaguing me for a good month now.

I mentioned that I signed up for a marathon in one of my earlier posts. Because I was all gung ho on running and I had momentum and I thought it would be good to take advantage of that momentum and go all out.

On the way to the half, I mentioned to J that I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the full marathon. Mostly because of the time commitment. Because I was tired of training. Because now that the weather’s getting nice, I want to spend time outside with my family instead of spending 4 hours of my Saturday running. And honestly, I was TIRED all the time from running a few weeks before the half. My pace was suffering. I didn’t like it as much. I didn’t WANT to get out of bed to run.

And then I ran the half, and hit the proverbial wall at mile 10. Yes, I finished, and yes, I was happy that I did, but it was a pretty big reality check for me. Because that finish line only would have been the halfway point in a full marathon.

I was on the fence though. Because, you see, I had COMMITTED to doing one. And how would I know that I couldn’t do something like this unless I tried it?

J thought I could. He and my friend D kept telling me I didn’t need to make a decision now, I could just start the training program and see how I felt. And it made sense, really, it did.

But D did ask me how I thought I’d manage a training program that called for double the mileage.

And then? Well, it all sort of came to a head.

I CAN’T just START a training program without committing to it. I can’t say “well, let’s see how this works out.” Because for me, running means I have to push myself through the times that it’s hard. It means I have to steel myself to push up that hill, even though it hurts.

Because I KNOW myself. I’m not that kind of person who can just let things ride. I can’t turn off the overachiever inside me. If I am going to commit to a marathon, I am going to COMMIT. I’m just not made to say “well, let’s see what happens.”

So after my conversation with D, another conversation with a friend from college who is a marathoner (and now a running coach), talks with my sister and my friend Heather and BFF J, and then some more thinking and ruminating and obsessing?

I finally DECIDED something.

It’s not worth the freaking out I’ve been doing.

This isn’t my ONLY CHANCE to run a marathon, ever. I have made some changes to my life that I want to keep going for a very long time. Running is one of them, and I can’t risk the burnout of doing yet another race where I hit the wall and finish but in a time that makes me depressed because I worked my ASS off for so long only to blow it the day of the race. (And yes, I’m using hyperbole here. Mostly.)

So instead of the full marathon this October, I will run the half marathon instead.

However?

My goal this time is to cut 18 minutes off my last half marathon’s time. I want to finish around 2 hours.

And to do that, I’ve found a different training program this time. Which incorporates some hillwork, some interval training, the usual “easy” long runs, and a couple of races so I can find that balance between pushing myself and hitting the wall. It’s also a 4 day a week schedule, which makes it so that my usual runs don’t need to be AS long because I’m getting the weekly mileage numbers I need.

And J got me this as a gift. Part Mother’s Day, part Valentine’s Day, part “I love you and I want to support you in whatever you want to do.” Because my nike + ipod isn’t cutting it, and I want something that gives me DATA on when I’m pushing myself too far. Because I agree with my marathoner friend when she told me that I was burned out because I was running hard with every training run, and I needed to have a different faceted approach to raceday.

And truthfully, I’m excited about trying a new approach this time around. I’ve been reading good things about using a heart rate monitor on runs and how it can help runners find that magic balancing point where they’re pushing themself enough that it’s hard, but not too much that they hit that wall at mile 10.

And honestly, I can’t help thinking that maybe it’s NOT about finding my limits, like I thought.

Maybe it’s about balance and commitment and finding something that makes me feel good about myself.

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10 Comments »

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  1. Good gift! I got something nice, too.

    Going from half to full marathon is a big, big difference in training and distance. One of my friends qualified for the Boston after her first full marathon, and she devoted at least 2 hours each day to endurance and strength training on top of a very strict diet with the goal of qualifying for the NYC marathon. It was an absolutely enormous commitment.

    I’m glad you’re putting this in such a good perspective!

  2. I’m glad you’re doing whats best for you, mentally and physically. You will have lots of time for a marathon, so taking this time for yourself right now is a great choice.

  3. I think you always make the right choice and I know you’ll think about it and talk about it with the right people in your life until you come up with a decision that works for YOU.

    I’m glad you did, no matter what as your friend, I’m proud of everything you do.

    Happy Mother’s Day !!! what a great gift for you…it will be perfect as you get ready for the half. Enjoy that time outside too. 🙂

  4. Alex said it best, so I’ll just say that whenever you DO complete that marathon, I’ll be there (either literally or figuratively) cheering you on at the finish.

    Another thing to consider…since you like speed so much, maybe the 5K or 10K distance are your specialty? Maybe focusing on improving your times in those races would be a fun thing for you. Not everyone is a long-distance runner (and I know THAT first-hand!), and that’s okay. It’s no less of an accomplishment to focus on becoming really good at a different distance than you originally envisioned.

  5. I’m impressed you wanna run at all, because after my half, I was depressed too – burnt out. I wanted nothing to do with running, to do with commitment, to do with anything that wasn’t AMAZING for me. It was like I couldn’t reach that high again, and I couldn’t reach it without training my ass off, and it all just seemed soooooooo hard. I didn’t run for a few weeks. I gave myself a mental break to not feel obligated, cuz I wanted to enjoy running again, and all the training had taken that out of me a bit.

    As for your time, it’s an awesome time for a first-timer – and I say that as a fellow first-timer (not as someone trying to make you feel better). I get it though if it wasn’t what you wanted. Shaving 18 minutes would be amazing!

  6. Serenity, I have been thinking about this ever since you posted about running the marathon. I have run two half-marathons now, and every time I think about running the marathon- which I really want to do eventually- I look at the distances on my chart (I use Jon Stanton’s Running Room charts- HIGHLY recommend them) and then I realize I don’t want to spend THAT much time thinking about running, eating for running, and running! I was in awe that you would even consider it with your job and O. and everything. (I am a PhD student and thus can set very strange hours in the summer if need be.)

    Case in point- my sister has decided that she wants to run a marathon in the fall, and because I get incredibly competitive (being the oldest child of two oldest children), and I think of running as MY thing, I instantly started to think about the marathon again. Even with being away in July, and the IVF in August, I wanted to figure out a way to do it. Then I opened up my chart (this morning!) and looked at the distances and thought, “There’s no way in hell I’m ready to do 10k tempo runs every week”. So that put a stop to it, but if she does run the marathon I am going to be supportive and yet so very jealous at the same time.

    So good for you for coming to that decision- I can imagine how hard it was for you to realize this, and to post it on here (as I am EXACTLY the same way about commiting to things).

    A heart-rate monitor is the BEST POSSIBLE thing you could have. It has made all the difference in the world to my running. Now I don’t run to time, I run to my heart rate. Slow runs max out at 145-150, steady ones at 152-5, and tempos at 165. My time improves as my fitness goes up, but I always run to the heart rate. It keeps me from running too hard, too often. (Again, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Running Room’s guide.)

    Also, your time was kick ass, and you can totally cut it down next time. My first was 2:27, and my second was 2:02. This year I want to break 2 hours (which was my goal last year as well, but I didn’t quite get there). We can train together!

    xx
    T.

  7. Can’t have runner’s high without the runner’s low. Bummer.

  8. My marathons were pre child. I too want another crack at one–better time, better training, the works. With a 2 year old, I cannot imagine, realistically, finding the time to pull those long runs every weekend for the 3 months leading up to the race, not to mention the mid-week mileage and all the interval training needed to increase running speed. The diet modification to drop some weight, the constant purchasing of running shoes, the obsessing over running snacks and water bottles–how could I ever get invested back into that with my little girl at home? But, women with small children do it all the time, so it is possible, just a matter of priorities. It’s amazing how something I claim to want so much is so low on my priority list–kind of makes me question my entire system of beliefs. All I can say is that it IS alot of work to run a marathon, but rewarding. However, it opens pandoras box because then you just look towards the NEXT BIG THING…like a 50 miler? 100 miler? For those of us with a true runners mentality–it never ends.

  9. I would just like to add as well that when I was running like a mad woman, I was in the middle of my years of infertility hell. Something about the running kept me moving through those hard times. Like the pain and trouble I spent pounding pavement would bring me closer to having a baby, like it was all preparation for something larger than I’d ever known. I have no idea where those ideas came from, but they got me through 2 marathons and into parenthood. To this day I credit my marathon training with allowing me to have a natural childbirth, but in hindsight I realize that it was more likely just a way to run away from my incredible personal pain. Your running saga has really made me relive that time and come to terms with those feelings, so thanks. I needed that. I think since it occurred to me that running was just a filler for being a mom, it’s been even harder to get back into it as I have to make the transition to running for me, not for “it.”

  10. I agree with the “can’t have a runners high without a runners low”. I ran my first marathon last November and it was a great accomplishment to say the least. And just like you, I wanted to do it over so I could do it better. I think that just says you are competitive. But it certainly makes it interesting, and it is amazing what your body can do when you train it. Good luck!!


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