Saturday, May 01, 2010

It's the training, Stupid.

I've said before that personal growth for me is a very slippery slope. I am not very good at listening to myself and being intuitive - I charge ahead like a blinkered horse and the life lesson that I need to learn has to be hammered round my head, usually several times, before I take note.

But first back to the last 2 weeks. My oh my, are you guys lovely. Read the comments. You are wonderful! I could not have asked for a more supportive and kind and thoughtful readership. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If I didn't go into a sharp decline last week it is because of all of you. I felt so loved and so cared for. I felt kind of embarassed, actually - there are worse things in the world than missing the Boston marathon. I think.

The week of the Boston marathon was, though, very weird. The weekend passed in a haze of confused emotions: sadness, anger and resignation. I wondered whether I would be able to bring myself to even follow my friends running Boston but in the event I was glued to the computer and watched all of the race, rooting for all my fabulous running buddies out there. Watching the race unfold I was also struck by how hard the course looked. It really is hilly. And it twists and turns an awful lot. But Chris and Meg and Emily and Jill and all the rest of you - you did an amazing job on this bear of a course. It goes without saying that I wanted to be there with you. But I wasn't and so I just thought of you all. Very hard!

And then, once Boston was over, it was a weight off my shoulders. Really - there was a very unexpected sense of relief, not only that the moment that could have been mine had now passed, but also that this training cycle was over. Yes, I had contemplated running another marathon. Quite a few of you recommended it and I even signed up for one when I got in from London on the Friday night before Boston. But after marathon Monday, I was done. Just done.
As in, stick a fork in me. As in, I am not running a race.

You've all been here in this training cycle with me - you know that it has not been a cracking one. I have kept the pedal to the metal in my training since January 2009. Then, I was fresh. After London I started chasing the BQ. Although I don't recall my training over the summer being fabulous, looking back over my stats I was fast and tight, and even the minor knee injury hardly stopped me. Then, after qualifying, things went wobbly for a bit. I went wobbly for a bit. I picked myself up, put myself through a 20 week training schedule and .. well .. it wasn't the best training cycle in the world. I lost my mojo. I was not as fast as I would have hoped to be and indeed had been, last year. I got injured and this injury kept popping up again. I know that, had I run Boston, I would have limped off that course. And that would have been fine with me - Boston is worth that. And taking 3 weeks off to heal would have been something I could have coped with, while gazing at my medal and that fugly but oh-so desirable blue and gold jacket. But I'm not injuring myself for a little marathon I don't care about and haven't trained for. That is not - in any way - to denigrate or minimise the effort and achievements of those who do train for it and will run it. But I trained for Boston. And, for better or worse, this training cycle is now, officially, over.

It's amazing - the amount of people who say to me "All that training! For nothing!". And I really have checked in with myself to see if that's how I feel. And it's just not how I feel at all. If anything, this weird experience has made me see that it's the training that's the point, not the race. Which I didn't realise at all, and would never have known had I not had this experience. It has been a difficult 6 months for me and my family - my training, however flawed, has kept me focused and on track in my life beyond running. The training, in short, has proved far more of an end, than a means.

So what did I do, and what will I do? Well - we have been living in a weird domestic situation for 10 months (adding to my stress) where we have been sharing (admittedly large) living quarters with my father-in-law and his girlfriend while they do up our old house to move into. The whole situation has been incredibly stressful (running out of the door was, at times, essential) not in the least because there was no definite date when they were moving out. In that weird way that things sometimes come together, the final stages of the move-out occurred on the morning I set out for London, then Boston. So... once I'd come through the weekend and marathon Monday, I buried my head into moving for a week. I emptied boxes, I cleaned wardrobes, I decluttered relentlessly - I kept myself very busy. And then this week, I got back onto the road - slowly. I am determined to give my knees enough rest to recover from whatever is bugging them. I am determined to give my mind the rest I need to go back into another training cycle with some vim and vigor.

Speaking of which - what's next? I'm asking you, actually. What's next? Although I have not heard from the BAA yet, I am assuming that next year's place is mine. (And if it isn't, well then it isn't.). So I want a fun race next. Another marathon. This autumn. What can you recommend my friends? There's a local one which appeals, even though it does not come highly recommended. It's the Experian Robin Hood marathon in Nottingham. It doesn't come highly recommended as it is both a full and a half marathon and the course of the full joins almost the entire half-marathon course, before the half-marathoners finish and the few marathoners carry on to run another 13.1 miles, in relative solitude. However, however, however. As someone who trains mostly alone, I don't fear that. In fact, in a way it would be fun to do a marathon where I wouldn't feel I was missing out on atmosphere by dialling into my iPod for the second half (I've never ever raced with an iPod on). Also, there's a certain appeal in running a local-ish marathon - not having to make elaborate or expensive plans to get there (and I can't think a volcano could prevent me from getting to Nottingham). On the other hand - it would be more fun to go somewhere. So what do you think? What can you recommend? I want to run and enjoy the race. Which races did you enjoy?

Finally - it's a good thing I'm so philosophical - now - about missing out on Boston. Guess what came in the post for me today? My official results.

Thanks guys! I really must be a big girl now...

24 comments:

Susan said...

Oh Petra! You never fail to amaze me!

I think you have handled this past year BEAUTIFULLY, and you have inspired me so.

I vote for the local race. Give it a try! If not, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon has about a zillion fans!!!

Maddy said...

There is no doubt that you will find the perfect fall race. I wish Chicago wasn't already full...

Have I told you lately how awesome you are?

Meg said...

You ARE a big girl...I think about you all the time and ask myself what I would have done or would do in your position. You don't even want me to go there...I think a fall marathon sounds GREAT! It will help you transition back into training, into your new/old house and give you the excuse to run out the door when you need it! As always, you made me think. The training IS sometimes the "end." Often, the race isn't even a measure of the fun, life, strength, lessons and hardships that we've experienced during training. Hmmm...you've got it goin' on! Can't wait to hear what you decide to do for the fall.

Lybbe said...

You're an inspiration to me, and a wonderful role model for your children. So many people would have just folded and cried for 6 months - but not you. You'll find the perfect race for yourself and I know you'll be the best you can be when you get there. Cheers Chica! I'm proud to know you.

misszippy said...

You have such a fantastic attitude! I'm sure they'll give you that spot next year. If not, boo on the BAA.

As to the fall race--local can be very nice and if you are good at self-motivating on a quiet course, why not go for it?

Bethany + Ryan said...

i cannot believe the BAA mailed that card to you! OMG. thats horrible.

i think they will give you a spot next year. they said they would, i trust their word!

Emz said...

You have such an amazing outlook.

Truly inspiring.

absolutely amazing.

Emz said...

I adore you! AZ next April!!! Hell with Boston!! ;)

aron said...

what a great post... you are an amazing lady!!!

ummm how about you come back to cali in the fall and run with us :) late summer there is sfm, in october we are all doing long beach (i am doing the half). there is something nice about a local race though BUT i will warn you on the small factor. i always thought i liked smaller races too until i did cowtown last year. it didnt feel like a race, but rather a training run... it was just weird.

Tara said...

You are amazing! You handle this whole Boston fiasco beautifully. Even though it's hard letting things go it's usually the best way to go about it. I have done very small marathons and they are kind of hellish. For me it just seemed like a long training run and I didn't really have the gusto to race. Quite a few of us will be running Long Beach this fall...it's very flat...hint hint ;)

Runner Leana said...

I certainly hope they let you run again next year. That would be just mean if they didn't! You have the best attitude towards what happened. Best of luck finding that next race for you. Personally I love the sound of Robin Hood marathon. But then again it may just be because I have a thing for Robin Hood! Smaller marathons can be tough, but you never know, it may just be your thing?

ShirleyPerly said...

Good for you taking this whole thing in stride. I've never had Mother Nature prevent me from going to a big race but she certainly put a big dent into my first Ironman. A lot of folks told me I should do another one in its place. Many wondered also whether I felt like I'd wasted a year training for it. For me, the answer to both was 'no'. I too felt as if the training cycle were over and I needed to move on.

Personally, if I wanted to do a marathon purely for fun I'd probably choose one that was fairly close to home. But that may be largely because I travel so much to race and doing one close to home where I could have family and friends either cheering for me or doing the race with me would be a treat!

Running Diva Mom said...

Just found you -- looking forward to following your journey :-)

Julianne said...

Life is so unfair sometimes. I am so sorry... I love how you're handling this whole thing, in a rather adult-like way. Your chance will come again. Next year right????? I hate volcanoes. And I am going to second Aron's suggestion of SFM. I'm planning on running it!!!! Join us. :-)

Running and living said...

I think your decision not to run another marathon close to Boston was a smart one. Seems to me like you need rest: mental and physical. Why go run a bad marathon? I say REST for now, if you can, take a month off, of run just for fun for a while. After my half ironman and my fall marathon I am going to take one month off of running. It seems that all elites are doing it, and I believe one gets faster by letting everything heal!

Irish Blue said...

That was a great post...very heart felt and reflective. You've come through this like a champ. Take a well deserved break and enjoy running for the sake of it for a while. Something will formulate for fall I'm sure.

Meg said...

Why must we be separated by an ocean? Your comments made me lol...BIG,BIG hugs. Thanks for "getting" my husband, and me.
Hope all is well...

lizzie lee said...

My friend.... when we enjoy the journey as much as the final destination we know that training was worth the effort. And we have, must, keep that perspective. We have today and we don't know about tomorrow. We, therefore, run today and if a volcano or a stroller get in our way, then we still have the power of moving on graciously. Easy to say, especially, both knowing how hard it is. But at some point we understand that it is another challenge, that definitely will make us stronger.

Take care of yourself, and I hope to race with you some time in life.

PS: Do you steal things while racing the Robin Hood?

:)

lizzie lee said...

And for the BAA request, did you contact them?

I did the same Fri you were at the airport and they asked me for your name to mark your record as request a deferment due to the volcano.

I will forward you the email.

much love across the Atlantic.

LMC said...

Great post with a perfect title! That one is done, time to move on and with the support of our running blogger community. It sounds like things at home may be a bit better now too. So, you'll be ready to start training for a fall marathon. The local one sounds like a good one. Good luck deciding which way to go! Have a great week!

Jill said...

Oh Petra, I'm so glad you've entered my life - I love your stories on your feeling, they touch my heart and I feel so similar. That training wasn't for "nothing" - it made you stronger and healthier and happy - running and training hard does that for us. And I totally understand Boston training being "over". Whichever marathon you do this fall, you'll carry your spring training with you and the lessons you learned....each and every run we do, we learn something more about ourselves so come fall, you'll know that much more about you. That's so cool, I think!!!

LMC said...

Hi Petra,
Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your nice comment about the pic!
About my cross training, I took it all from the book "Advanced Marathoning" by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. It's a great book. Chapter 4 has all of the exercises that I do. I have added bicep curls, tricep curls and shoulder presses because I think strong arms and shoulders help my running. I have also, over time, increased the number of sets to 3 or 4 depending on how tired I might or might not be and how much time I have before I have to leave for work. It usually takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get everything done. Sometimes I do leave some stuff out due to time constraints. Hope some of this helps! Have a great week!

peter said...

Life is unfair sometimes, but I recently learned that life stretches on until...it is over and until then, it's all good. Bad things happen but there's always tomorrow, and tomorrow is likely to be good. My best marathoning year was 2006 and when I ran the NYCM in November I was at the top of my game. Then suddenly ten months or more of training struck me mentally and taking Nov. & Dec. off was good! I came back in 2007 pretty strong despite the layoff. You'll be the same b/c you've already done the work. If you travel, I recommend looking at for the fall the Marine Corps Marathon in DC (I think its full already), Philly, Richmond, Baltimore or (technically 2011) the Walt Disney World Marathon in early January. It's a blast and it's a real destination place.

Marathon Maritza said...

I should email BAA for that piece of mail you got...seriously? The wankers <--lame attempt to be British.

love you!