After I published my marathon recap, I thought for a while about why it was so hard to write. Usually a PR race recap is easy. It’s puppies and rainbows and everything that was right leading up to and during the race. Right?!
I think the reason that this one was hard to write is because it was a PR. It’s hard to talk about being really happy with the time, but not really happy with how I reacted to things getting hard. On paper, it was almost perfectly even splits (1:43:20 & 1:43:32) and the last 5k was the fastest of the day. But the race was anything but perfect.
In the recap, I wanted to fully capture where my head was and truly how much my race was changed by Char coming along when she did. I am still not sure if I did justice to that. It was hard to find the words to describe the mental let down that I had during the race. I talked about being in a “dark place”, but that description really isn’t completely accurate.
When I think about being in a dark place during a marathon, I think about how I felt in Boston…where I was absolutely miserable and mad about it. During Chicago, I was never miserable. When I backed off the pace for ~15 sec/mile in those middles miles, it was a 100% conscious decision. And that’s really the part I am most disappointed in…It was like I gave myself an out. And the more I dwelled on the slower pace, the deeper I fell into a mixture of feeling sorry for myself: “Why didn’t my super fresh legs show up today?” “It’s not fair that I had the ‘perfect’ training cycle and am not having an incredible race to show for it.” and questioning myself: “I don’t think I can hold this pace for x more miles.” “I don’t know if I will be able to pick it up and make up the time I gave back.”
It really comes down to just thinking WAY too much. And then when Char came along…I had no choice. I was either going to let her go, which I didn’t truly see as an option. (I am WAY too competitive for that). Or I was going to move my feet as fast as she was and stay with her. And then once I made that decision, all questioning, thinking and analyzing was done. After that it was all about running with the only thinking focused on what it would take to keep moving at that pace (nutrition, hydration, etc.) I must have told her 100 times during and after the race how happy I was that she was there. I knew immediately what she had done for me and I was (and am) very grateful for her “saving my race” as I told her over and over. It also made those last miles of the race a whole lot of fun 🙂
And in reality, that is really why we do this, isn’t it?
So, What’s Next?
I think for the first time since I started running I can honestly answer this question with nothing. Of course, there will definitely be something, but it is the first time in a long time that I have finished a goal race with no races on the calendar. There are truly no registration confirmations in my inbox and I still have no idea what my spring training and/or racing will look like.
I do know that there won’t be a marathon. After 4 back-to-back training cycles, with three of those cycles all focused on a 3:23(ish) marathon, I think it is time to step back from this distance for a bit. It hurts my heart a little to think about not running a marathon for a whole year, but I know that if I really want to make progress then it makes more sense to step away. This winter I will focus on my 5k and 10k times and later in the spring, I will probably run a half marathon. I want to get faster and stronger (back to regular yoga, strength workouts and maybe some new stuff?) and see how that translates into a faster marathon next fall.
I have tossed around some half ideas with friends, but haven’t committed to registering for anything yet and I don’t even have a target 5k or 10k in mind. For now, I’ll focus on recovery (boring) and then once I am ready to start training again, I will work with Kevin to figure out what the right races will be. I do know that I am excited to mix things up a little and happy that I can race without having to recover for a month+!