Monday, February 15, 2010

Boston 2011

Wow. I can't believe I'm writing this post. When I first said it, I burst into tears on the bus and felt more pathetic since it was Valentine's Day, and to the outsider it probably looked like I was crying over an ex. Talk about heartbreak hill...

Really though, my morning was disastrous. I was looking forward to a real long run V-day morning that would leave me happy and full of endorphins and self-love. The snow has just killed the joy of running, since it made every fun running trail inaccessible. I could only do laps around the National Mall, and even then I could only lap the Washington Monument on the one-way streets because the walkways were either icy or full of tourists. I accidentally punched a little girl in the face (oops?) and after slowing down behind a large family after yelling "excuse me" five times I whipped around and (in a very rude, biting tone) said "you really should take up the entire damn sidewalk."

Yeah, I was in a very bad mood. Not to mention the streets were packed, and a guy was swerving around talking on his cell phone. My glare must have looked like I was checking him out (he was fairly attractive in a nice car) because he smiled back at me and gave me the nod, which I responded to the with phone-to-the-ear gesture and yelled "get off the phone" as I passed his window, while trying to bring my glare up a level. Jerk.

My watch said the 14.5 mile run lasted about two hours, when I had been outside for nearly two and a half hours. That's how much time I spent stopped at lights or stopping in between parked cars to let a bus go by without flattening me out. At mile 12, my right IT-band started hurting and my quad was just cramping really bad. I fell apart. I stopped and just wanted to start kicking the piles of snow while screaming to let out my frustration with it all. The next two miles included a lot of thinking.

This wasn't normal. Since when did running become a source of frustration instead of an outlet for it? What happened to running for fun? The last three to four weeks have been so stressful, because I took two full weeks off of running, and then got back into it only to have the storm hit and hurt my running plans more. I should be at 45 miles this week, and instead I'm just over 20. And now, my right quad (just above my knee) just feels twisted and sore today. I decided I could go without tapering, but then I wouldn't really be ready for Boston.

The Boston entry fee is pretty steep, and then there are flights and hotel arrangements (which, by the way, if I can't cancel my hotel room this post is completely void--I just thought I'd answer all the "WHY?!" replies I got via twitter) for the marathon. If I'm not even going to get there and do my best, what's the point?

It's one thing to run 26.2 miles and another to do it well. I realize that I haven't done a legitimate long run in over 4 weeks. I could just finish the 14.5 miles (which was supposed to be 16) and I should be at the 18-20 mile mark by now. Its just not going to work. This feels like the right, smart thing to do. I realized this at mile 14 and finished the run in tears. I can't stand the thought of deferring to 2011. I've worked for this for nearly a year now. This was supposed to be my Victory Lap for every workout since June 2009. It's all been focused on Boston. I got back to my apartment, and felt the opposite of what I was expecting. On Valentine's Day I let myself down, and as a single gal--I'm all I have.

In the next hour, just about Every Little Thing went wrong, and when I ran into neighborhood friends on the bus, I just burst into tears. Luckily, I have really awesome friends that I just love to death. We went to the movies and a great dinner where I had lots of margaritas and a ton of Sangria. My day went from plain awful to a ton of fun. Thanks girls!

For three years, I ran marathons for fun. I didn't know what a split was. I didn't use a special training program, and I never got injured or stressed out about it. I loved it and I was addicted to them. So, I've decided to switch my thinking and focus on the distance again rather than obsessing over every aspect of the course, my pace, and every workout I need to do each week. I'm going to jump back to where I was two years ago. Maybe that drive led me to a 55 minute PR, but I can take this slower. I have years of running ahead of me, and so I want to be smart about it. 

This is why I've decided to defer Boston, jump down to the National Half-marathon in March, and focus on rebuilding my mileage and focusing on distance for that 50k. I'm counting on that new challenge to take me back two years.  I'm going to take it back to my first race where I just focus on preparing for the miles. Yes, its fun to be fast. It feels incredible to pass the finish line 18 minutes faster than your original goal. But, I don't want to get hurt again, burn out, and I can't stand the constant frustration every time I need to build mileage back up. I decided this is all because I broke my toe, and I kind of want to take out my anger by destroying my Vibram Five Fingers. 

So, there it is. Thanks to my friends and family for all the support, and I hope that in 2011 I'm ready to race.


  1. Awww man. That sucks, but look at it this way... at least the pressure will be off and you can get back to why you really love running, instead of running because a plan tells you to. Sometimes we all need that kind of shake-up in our routines.

    Boston will be there next year and at least now you can celebrate your BQ for another year! (Ha, I know that probably isn't much consolation... but for those of us FARRRRR from BQing, I like to imagine myself celebrating it for as long as possible once I finally get there).

    Glad your friends cheered you up and you ended up having a good day! :)

  2. Boston is there for you next year!!!! I will never qualify for Boston-way to damn slow-so the fact that you can defer to next year is HUGE! Use the additional year to find the joy of running again!!! And once you find that happiness everything will fall into place!

    I sometimes think our best times,races and fewer injuries come when we haven't planned everything down to the final dotted line and haven't obsessed! So I think this is a VERY POSITIVE thing! You should take it as a blessing in disguise!!!

    And I'm very glad your valentines Day ended on a happy note!!

  3. You absolutely made the right choice. Focus on recovery and let the miles come to you. Stay strong!!!

  4. Your post resonated with me, partly because I know every marathoner goes through times like you just had. I felt myself entering a funk a little while ago and I just shut it down. You have to after a while trust your fitness and training. Your body won't forget what it was like to run a marathon.

    Anyways, your new approach (enjoying Boston at a reasonable pace) was my 'victory lap' approach to 2010. You BQ, and that was the hard work. The rest, well, you have to lower the pace to smell the flowers.

  5. Sorry to hear this. Glad you're being smart about it and deferring, rather than risk further hurt. Here's to a good 1/2 in less than a month!