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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Showing you my Cards

*Caution: this post is lengthy*

I'm gonna be honest, homies, I'm feeling down and doubtful about Chicago right now. I could perhaps attest both feelings to a variety of factors: exhaustion (classes are busy right now, and with house guests, entertaining is draining), PMS, or even poor sleep; however, for the past few days I have been seriously questioning not just whether or not I can run Chicago, but whether or not I want to run Chicago.

This morning I was feeling so low about it, I cried some to my husband about it, and while he aims to be helpful -- telling me that whatever I choose is fine and that he supports either decision -- it's ultimately difficult because it's a choice I have to make on my own.

But to offer up a sampling of my doubts, they include:

Under/Sporadic Training: I'm nearly halfway through the training, yet my long run repetoire is sparse and I haven't run anything longer than 11 miles so far. The last 7 days have been particularly erratic and I haven't run a log run since the disasterous group run from over a week ago. I had promised myself after Disney that I would be more faithful in following a training schedule, but I find myself slipping back into my old ways. Not good.

Lack of Motivation: Even though I specifically signed up for Chicago because it sounded like fun, now I find it hard to get enthused about running 26.2 miles -- no matter the event or locale. I can certainly imagine my feelings of accomplishment and triumph with a finish, but thinking of not running it doesn't bother me (if I don't run, we'll still go to Chicago -- I have purchased the travel accomodations -- but I would just play a cheering roll instead of a participatory one). Plus, I keep thinking: I've completed a marathon, and that was all I'd initially set out to do, so why have I felt the need to continue with such long, strenous races when I might be better suited as a runner for shorter races?

Looming Feeling/Pressure: It certainly is great to have goals, but having the big race looming over all aspects of the training kinda takes away from some of the joy I get from running -- an activity that I mainly enjoy for its escapist nature. If I miss a run or do poorly on a run during training, I feel guilty and immediately question my ability to complete or do well in the race. I don't really like that added stress in my life (especially b/c I'm someone who likes to enjoy as stress-free existence as possible). For example, the past week when I haven't really been able to run, it has been in the back of my mind constantly and I find it infringes on my ability to relax, knowing that instead of enjoying a sunset celebration, I should be running the 5K.

Certainly, I know I can turn these thoughts around (I've had them before and have overcome them) and they may be temporary, so in two days I may not be thinking like this anymore (especially since I know that PMS makes me "blue" for a day or two and I am always a little irrational). Plus, I know I can make the most of the next half of my training; I can re-focus and I'm certain I could do the running. But, as I said at the beginning of the post, it's not necessarily a matter of "can" I do it -- it is the desire to do it.

The only thing that (truly) keeps me from deciding to not run it is that I'm the sort who hates to quit. And for some reason, deciding to not run Chicago feels like quitting -- opting out of a challenge that I chose to undertake -- and that's not how I roll. Even if I can't do something perfectly, I still always see things through.

So, I hope I've accurately painted the (mental and emotional) dilemma I'm facing, and in the end, I know that no one else can make the decision for me (although opinions, advice, empathy, and reprimands are all appreciated); I need to conclude what I can for myself.

Thanks for reading. Think I want a Diet Pepsi now. No, wait, maybe a cold beer. If only I didn't have another class in half an hour... is it "wrong" to go to class after a few?


Wes said...

If you are not having fun, make the appropriate adjustments.

I used to go to class after drinking a few, but I wasn't the teacher :-)

L*I*S*A said...

It's natural to question your commitment at this stage of the game, but you're far from out of the running (no pun intended).

If your heart truly isn't in it, then perhaps you can step back and gain some perspective.

I don't think you are under-trained at all. Last year, I did the Higdon plan, and I didn't hit my 20-miler until the end of September, only three weeks before race day. You still have plenty of time to include some good, quality long runs IF YOU WANT TO.

Personally, I think running a marathon is 90% mental, and 10% physical. You can do this.

You're right, it is ultimately your decision. You'll do what's right for you.

FWIW, I would love the company along the route, so if you're interested in running with this gal, whose only goal is to beat five hours, I'd love to have you along for the ride. :)

Firefly's Running said...

Girl, you know that you can do it! It's important to HAVE FUN during the training too. I think you are doing a great job the way you are.

Plus, heck who I am going to have a post-marathon beer with afterwards? :D

JustJunebug said...

Jess: I cant remember right now (and too lazy to go back and find it) but I dont recall how your last one panned out. Sorry that I cant remember...but I do remember something more recent where you bailed out during the run if I am not mistaken, and prior to that your training had been sporadic as well.

To be completely honest with you in reading your blog since your 'training' began I never felt like your heart was in it to really do it. Not once. Dont take that the wrong way, but its just what I thought all along.

I agree and disagree with Lisa on this. I think you are under trained if you want to do better than your last one.

If that doesnt matter and all you want is a Finish in your column, then yeah you're fine. I am not that type of person.

now as far as that beer you asked about..i am going to say if you decide to do this marathon, skip the beer more often. thats just me. :o)

Hugs to you honey and I hope I didnt offend you or any of your readers!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whatever you decide I as one of your readers, support you no matter what!

Krista said...

I can't tell you what to do, but I can recommend that you make a decision soon: either go all-out and make yourself commit to the training, or be comfortable with your choice not to run and enjoy the rest of your summer guilt- and stress-free.

I am in the same spot, as far as race obligations turning running into more of a chore for me than an escape. It's not fun, and I'm sick of that feeling dragging me down.

Good luck making your decision. No matter what it is, it will be the right one.

Coach Froyd said...

eh, you were sparodic with your training on the last one and you completed that one just fine. Are you running this one to do a PR or just to say that you did it? Remember that running isn't supposed to be a job, its supposed to help you not think about your job...just like beer. I think you are getting tooooo wound up about this one. You did one before, you can do one again.

ws said...

Unfortunately, I don't have time to post an appropriate comment re: emotions now, but I will say two things and come back later...

#1 - I don't know sh*t about training appropriately for a marathon. I did 8 weeks of training for Miami - with two 16 milers and one 18 miler and then a taper. If you really want to do it, you have enough time between now and Chicago to get at least 3 longer long runs and taper correctly.

#2 - Forget my long comment from yesterday. Force me to drive either down to your neck of the woods, find a place in between or drive up to me and I will run with you...your only job will be pacing me.

Or, you can run the Palm Beach marathon...if I'm alive I'll probably do the half...

summer school students (myself included) might barely even notice if you are a bit inebriated...and didn't you hear, diet soda's bad for you.

Marcy said...

I say give it a few days and then decide. I'm usually an irrational one myself during PMS/ high stress times. If you still feel the same way after the house guests leave and the PMS subsides then maybe you should pull out. Running isn't supposed to be another job or just another thing on the list to check off, it's supposed to be fun (kinda LOL you know what I mean) I also agree with Lisa, you're far from out of the game if you end up still wanting to make it happen ;D Good luck with your decision chica!! ;D

keith said...

sorry. you can't quit.

miss petite america said...

i find myself in the same situation. i am only half as hardcore with this training than any of my other half marathon training. and i've already written a few posts of my freaking out.

for me quitting is not an option. even if i get to the race and just run the half, for whatever reason. in my mind, i'm getting to the start line. what happens after that is mostly out of my control at this point.

my strategy since my last freak out is to take it one run at a time. and if i miss one, i try to figure out a way to make it up. and if i can't, then i can't. and i am dedicated to getting all my long runs done at the very least. i don't get all my runs in, but i am making a conscious effort to ENJOY every run, even the bad ones.

Neese said...

sometimes the ol' way of just making list of all the reasons you want to and all the reasons you don't want to do Chicago right now, might put things into light....and, ofcourse, time... give it a couple more days, i bet even just having blogged about it probably cleared some anxiety..we are with ya no matter what girlfriend!

Erin said...

I will chat with you after a couple beers on this one. I see two sides to it and agree, this is definitely your own decision. You know you have backers/supporters either way so give it a couple days and then rethink.

Sorry I didn't call to walk. I got home from work at 7:30 and am back online working. Guess my own goals are tainted by work. Will I ever lose those 20lbs? Not at this rate.

brunettechicagogal said...

I think if you still feel this way in a week, don't do it. The most important factor is the DESIRE. I think marathons are 90 percent mental, so if you're not into it now, it's probably going to be a crappy race. And your long-run mileage isn't what it should be at this point, for sure. I think you could catch up, but the question is, do you want to?

BTW, I am probably going to shut down my blog. You probably saw that I've got a "hater" lurking, and I'm just so over that sort of nonsense that it's not worth it for me to keep the thing going. So if you ever want to contact me -- about Chicago or anything else -- you can catch me at brunettechicagogal@yahoo.com

See ya!

scott keeps running said...

I think it was Hemingway who said, "If you signed up for Chicago then goddamit you better do Chicago!!"

I wouldn't make a decision just yet. One week or so of erratic training is not going to ruin anything. And if you have the tickets already....

Jess said...

You're right that it's ultimately your decision about what to do about the race.

But here's some thoughts that always helped me:
1. Crossing the finish line = best experience ever
2. Getting a finishers' medal, no matter your time is fun and something to be proud of.
And now my favorite lol:
3. Having the excuse that you just ran a marathon and your legs are tired to get you out of common household chores. It worked with my roomies. "Hey Emily, can you unload the dishwasher...my legs are too sore to get off the sofa and waddle over there!" "No problem Jess, you did just run a marathon!" LOL!

RunningJayhawk said...

Here's my two cents...give it some time and think about it.

If you decide to run, we can always pace together. Why? Because I'm slower than slow. And I go out to have fun. Ideally, I'm hoping to get around 5:30, but who knows. I certainly wouldn't mind some company along the way.

If you come and cheer...awesomeness. You'll have a really cool and fun experience. But I guarentee you'll be wishing you were running. This marathon is just THAT incredible.

I'm particularly fond of Keith's answer though. :)