Without really meaning to, I somehow came up with a fall racing schedule that I instantly fell hard for—as in, head-over-heels obsessed with.
I commiserated to all of you about how I felt goal-less, restless, and lost after Eugene. I think the post-marathon blues hit a bit harder than expected. Okay, a lot harder—and I can admit it now.
I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that while I was really excited to have accomplished a big bucket list goal, it was actually really hard to wave goodbye to that goal and look out into the great beyond. Qualifying for Boston had been my baby for so long, and I think I had this idea in my head that once I’d done it, all the running happiness would be mine forever and ever. That’s exaggerated—but you get the point.
But I didn’t feel like that, and it wasn’t just because I had a hard, less-than-perfect race. Yes, Eugene wasn’t as satisfying as I might have hoped, but I’m realizing now that it had less to do with the race itself and more to do with my lack of direction afterward.
I know I should have let my unrelenting goal-setting brain kick back and take a break, but that’s not really how I work. Even when I’m between training cycles and running less frequently, I still like to know that a new possibility is out there, waiting for me to take it on. Without a defined goal, I was left with a very jumbled mess of potential ideas, and consequentially a very blank drawing board.
I went back and forth on running a fall marathon, on committing to triathlons, on working solely on speed, on jacking up strength training (no pun intended). Around and around it went, until all I had was more confusion, too many “potential” race options, and not enough enthusiasm to even make a decision. In retrospect, this is one of the reasons my blogging went down so much after Eugene (okay…one of the reasons). I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, so what was the point of lamenting those frustrations to others?
So I kind of gave up. Not because I no longer wanted a goal, but because I decided a “roll with it” approach was going to be more tolerable than orchestrating a race schedule that I wasn’t totally psyched about. Sure, I had races lined up, but none that had a sparkly “goal race” asterisk attached to them.
But now, approximately 48 hours after a light-bulb went off, all that’s changed. I think the light-bulb may have actually broken with how much intensity the idea came to me.
FYI, this is a very long-winded explanation for my decision making process. Sorry…there was just a lot of build up.
It all started with a little triathlon last Saturday. I had such a great time at this race, and it left me hungry for more. Admittedly, when it comes to triathlons, I’m more interested in the distances that have an “iron” in their name. But it was too soon for that. There is a chance that I could do the 70.3 distance this fall, but I feel like it would be a little half-assed. I’m not experienced enough on the bike or in the sport itself to have a real go at it, and it’s not really my style to commit to a serious distance without a decent training cushion to go off of.
But I still wanted more from the tri. I wanted to become a “bike rider” and get more acquainted with my beautiful baby bike. And I want to open the option for a half-Ironman next year. That requires more practice, more training, and less marathoning.
Which all ultimately brought up the idea of the Black Diamond Olympic Tri in September. Arielle first mentioned this race to me last year, and it seems like this year there’s a lot of blogger interest. It was also far enough away to get in some actual tri-specific training in—and far enough after my second ultra-relay to allow for some recovery time.
So yes, I was on board for Black Diamond. But it still wasn’t clicking. It felt like a means to an end; a stepping stone, if you will, toward what would be an actual goal race next year. Therefore, I still felt as if I was winging it in terms of training and racing, and I was okay with it. Black Diamond would follow a lot of summer running, and eventually I’d figure out some more fall/winter plans.
But then, THEN…an idea came to me. I shouldn’t take credit actually, in fact—credit goes to a Twitter conversation between Lauren and Larira two nights ago. I spotted them talking about the Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon this fall, and I had to chime in since it was my own first half-marathon almost three years ago. I started thinking then about how much fun I had at the race, how nice the course was, etc.
Somehow, then, after remembering how much I loved that race and how much I wanted to run it too—it all came to me: I want to run a goal half-marathon this fall.
And not just any goal. No—that’s the fun part. This goal would be hard, elusive almost, and perhaps the most intimidating training I’d ever have to take on.
And I was hooked. This is exactly what I wanted to commit the rest of the summer toward, and it seemed silly I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I have never done goal-specific half-marathon training, in fact—I’ve never actually done intentional half marathon training, and I figured why not start after already running 6? 🙂
I considered a few options for races, but Bellingham just felt right. It’s close by, it’s cheap, and it’s a PR-ready course. I considered a few other options, but after navigating a few scheduling plans, this was clearly the best option. The best part was that I could still do the Olympic tri as it’s a full two weeks before Bellingham, leaving enough time for recovery while still gaining the tri experience.
So basically, I’m obsessed. For a number of reasons, but mainly:
1) I’m sticking to my no fall marathon plan
I really wanted to try and commit to saving myself for Boston next year (assuming I’ll get in), but I could feel that commitment slipping away when I felt completely goal-less. It would be easy for me to just plan another 26.2 training schedule, but that wasn’t ultimately what I wanted. This plan totally fits the bill for maintaining distance but without going all out marathon.
I have been wanting to focus on speed forever now but never fully could because marathon training + excessive speed work is kind of a recipe for disaster. At least for me. With a goal for a half instead of a full, I’ll be able to really narrow in on speed workouts, which will be very new to me in some respects. I can’t wait.
3) Forced cross-training
By keeping the Olympic distance tri on the schedule, it will not only force me to spend more time on my bike and in the pool, but also off the roads. Cross-training, IMO, has a direct correlation to decreased injury risk. Double wins all around.
4) Tempering the sadness of no fall marathon
Despite my aforementioned goal of not doing a fall 26.2, I knew that when the time came and everyone was after their respective marathon goals and running 20 milers, I would be seething with jealousy. Having a distance goal of my own will (mostly) help offset that little green monster and keep me focused on the Boston end-game.
5) Lots of work to do
No sugar coating…this goal is a big stretch for me. It is going to require more discipline and probable more puke-inducing workouts than I’ve ever done. And while that probably sounds awful to some, it’s exactly what I need right now. Feel free to remind me of this at my 4:30 am alarms 😉
6) It doesn’t feel possible (yet) <— Biggest reason of all
Here’s the honest truth about training to BQ in Eugene: I was nearly 100% sure I could do it. The required pace was something I was already comfortable with, and without the injury when I ran Chicago, I’m almost certain I could have done it there. Of course, I wanted to work hard and I wanted to secure my confidence, but I never really had a doubt that unless disaster struck—I could do it.
This goal? Not so much. In the name of full disclosure, let’s get real with numbers here:
I would like to run a 1:35:xx half this fall.
That would require dropping nearly 15 seconds off my current half-marathon PR pace. And here’s the biggest kicker: I’m still convinced my current half-marathon PR was a fluke. Yes I’m proud of it and I’m happy it happened, but I still, to this day, have a hard time believing it wasn’t a lot of luck.
Which makes shaving 3 minutes off that time even scarier.
So no, I’m not totally sure if I can do it. Do I believe with the right training it’s possible? Of course—which is why I can’t wait to dive into the horrifying place of having a very big reach goal.
This whole agenda, tri and all, feels like the perfect formula for all the things I was hoping to take on this fall season, and I can’t wait to get started.
In fact I did start, yesterday, with a 5-mile tempo at my previous half-marathon PR pace. It wasn’t the easiest, but it happened—7:30s on the dot. And it’s a start.
Time to get uncomfortable folks, I can’t wait.