Saturday, August 31, 2013

The F-Word

Failure. I hate failing. And while I realize that no one particularly enjoys failing, others can take it more in stride. Yet for someone like me who is competitive, has a slight Type A personality, and has a desire to succeed, failing a task is bothersome. In this case, my attempt at achieving a goal is not going to happen.

In a post I wrote in June, I shared that I was going to run a marathon. Well, I’ve reconsidered my decision and I’ll just be doing the half marathon. Now I know I shouldn’t say “just a half marathon” because 13.1 miles is still good, but it’s something I’ve already done, so I’m not pushing myself to the next level. However, I didn’t feel the full 26.2 miles was going to work at this time.

The biggest factor in my decision was the time and commitment needed to train properly. All summer I tried to follow the schedule for completing my weekly miles and getting that long run in on the weekend. As summer progressed, we got busier and went away a number of weekends. That meant my long run would often occur on a Thursday or whenever I could get it in. What also added to the challenge is Jason’s schedule. He works nights, so on a work night he leaves after dinner, doesn’t get home until around 8:00 the next morning, and then sleeps during the day. With the kids here, I couldn’t leave for my runs before he got home, and it’s hard to be gone for hours while he’s asleep. Now that school has started for me again, that just adds another level of being limited on time. I don’t have time to run before school, so I have to run after. When I get home at 5:00, I like to see Jason before he goes to work. It’s also hard to put in a lot of miles after a long day of work. Plus Abby has activities after school and homework to complete. With the day to day chores such as showers, dinner, my school work, etc., doing 10 miles beginning at 5:30 p.m. is hard. Abby also has games on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so once again I’m struggling to find time to run for hours on the weekend.

I also don’t have a running partner in which to train. No one wanted to or was able to do the marathon, so I was doing these long runs alone. It’s hard to stay motivated mile after mile when I’m running solo. It’s helpful to have someone to talk to and who can keep me moving forward. When I’m alone for that much time, I have too much time to think. And I’m usually thinking about how much I don’t want to go any further and that it’s really not that fun. I think about how my knee kind of hurts and that my legs are tight. My brain is usually my worst thinks too much.

Speaking of my body hurting...running long distances does hurt. On the day that I ran 15 miles, my legs were killing me. My thighs were so tight and every step hurt. I felt like I was in slow motion much of the time. When I was done, I couldn’t begin to imagine that I’d still need to run another 11 miles for the marathon. That was the day I really started to question if I could do it. For those of you who run, you know that some days are better than others. Some days you feel like you have a good stride and you’re light on your feet, and other days it’s like running with a bag of bricks tied to your feet. I hoped that maybe this was just a bad day and the next week’s long run would be better.

The next week came and I had to do my long run on Friday because we were heading for Pittsburgh the next morning. Jason had worked the night before so he went to sleep in the morning when he got home. Abby was at camp, but Griffin was home. I couldn’t run for 3 hours or so and leave him alone. Therefore, I couldn’t start my 16 mile run until Jason woke up. Needless to say, when I headed out at 1:00 p.m. on a hot, sunny, summer afternoon, the conditions were not ideal for running. Those long runs are much better to get out of the way in the early morning hours when the mid-day heat is not beating down. Well, after a few miles, I found myself running back towards my house. As I ran, I began to come to the realization that this marathon might not happen. I didn’t want to give up on my goal, but I wasn’t feeling a strong enough desire at that point to keep going.

It would have been hard, but physically I’m sure I could have completed the 16 miles that day. Yet since I was not willing to try harder in my efforts, I kind of knew that my mind was telling me to reconsider. I did give it a week or so to be sure, but anytime I told myself I wasn’t going to run it, I had a sense of relief. The training had become like a second job. The training schedule was always on my mind and I was always trying to plan my weeks around it. Instead of enjoying it, it began to feel more like a burden. For some time now I’ve been in some kind of training mode. Whether it’s a 10K or a 10 mile race, I’m always forced to be on some schedule so that I am ready for race day. The marathon plan is the most intense one I’ve done so far and I’m actually glad it’s off my plate. Yes, I still will train for the half marathon, but that’s manageable. If I were still marathon training, today would have been my 18 mile day. Instead it was only a 9 mile day. Much less stressful. After this race, I think I’m going to focus on running as just exercise for awhile. I think I need a break from races. It’s been more work than enjoyment lately, so I need to just go out and not worry about my distance or my time. It’ll be purely for exercise and stress relief.

So while failing is not something I enjoy, I am really okay with not being able to do my full marathon by my 40th birthday. I have enough stressful things to deal with on a daily basis, so if not doing this helps to alleviate some of the stress in my already busy schedule, then that’s good for my family and me. And I want running to become another f-word