So what happened with all my back and forth about goals, you may ask? (and fairly so, since as a blog reader and/or twitter follower, you heard a lot about my indecision….)
Even the afternoon before the race, I was debating goals with DH over our pre-race “dinner” at PF Chang’s. So many options….
I think I finally went into the race – while still wishing for a PR, magic day, whatever – with reasonable goals:
1) don’t do anything stupid – and by stupid I mean anything to jeopardize my health, Boston training or my ability to do the ultra in December and become a Maniac
2) finish, and
3) do the best I could on the day, whatever that turned out to mean. I had thoughts of seeing what I could do and pulling back if it became evident I couldn’t hold the pace I wanted, and that’s exactly what I did.
How’d I do?
100% at least as far as I can tell at this point.
I think I’m in reasonable shape, stiff and sore but not more than I’d expect, and no new niggles I’m aware of (did have some disturbing twinges in my outer left ankle during the race, and my left PTT/arch is no happier than it was pre-race but why would it be). I do feel (I think) a bit different for “running” the marathon instead of “racing” it (at least half of it) though if/how that translates to faster or better recovery and return to training remains to be seen. The chiro said my hips and back weren’t “that” out of whack. He seemed surprised, as even training weeks can do that sometimes.
I think I can do the ultra, though I’ve got to look at how to train for what my goals are for that without impacting speed and ability to train for Boston – and I need hill work for Boston but not for the ultra, so…For the ultra, debating a time goal in addition to goals 1, 2 & 3 above that I had for this race, but I may just leave that be. I finished my 2nd of 3 races to Maniac, did so with an effort and attitude/mindset that lets me hold my head up as well as continue on my plan, and got a pretty decent time out of it.
So I’m in the satisfied to pleased headspace, tilting toward happy. Whether I left it all on the course or not, probably not, given I was a bit more coherent at the end. I knew I’d have to be though, as I was on my own and had to get back to the hotel, etc. and the point of this race was NOT to drain the tank. But could I have pushed any more without driving myself into a hole of past-niggle injury, wiping myself out system-wide due to the cold? (blowing up and having to walk would have probably caused me to go hypothermic) I don’t know and there’s really no way to say. I think I ran smart, and that’s what’s required to be able to run for years to come and continue to improve.
Things I learned:
I can run 2 marathons within 4 weeks.
(I have to say that again – I can run 2 marathons within 4 weeks – it’s pretty awesome and amazing on its own! Having it be my 3rd marathon of the year, plus running a half and a 10 miler, well, that’s not shabby. And this race was not a slog-fest, and my time was okay/acceptable, especially considering.)
As DH said – I learned that my performance – a better than BQ time – is likely REPEATABLE. Not a fluke, not just lucky in one magical race.
I learned I may be decent at running downhill, especially if I work on it & I found a new way to run uphill at least on one hill.
I re-learned – no surprise – I need/want to be a lot stronger, especially late race, and get more hill experience. While watching the 12k Championships online Sunday morning, I looked at one of the small hills in Alexandria and told DH I wanted to be strong enough to not even notice those hills.
I am proud I didn’t beat up on myself much (would say at all but probably did a little) during the race. I told myself to do what I could. Later in the race, I did look at people and wonder what it was that made them (look) stronger than me, and how I could get stronger next race and in training. But that just means I want to get better and am willing to work to do so!
I learned that Baystate’s mind/will issues are not always going to happen. (whew!)
I was pretty nervous beforehand about whether I’d be able to pull off a 2nd marathon (at all, let alone one I wouldn’t feel bad about) in 4 weeks. I did, and I don’t feel bad about this one. I’m sure there are finish times that would have made me kind of upset, where I’d have to remind myself that the goal was to finish, uninjured and able to go forward to the ultra/Maniac and on to Boston, more importantly, but I finished with a time I’m still proud of. Lucky and I know it.
I think of where I was a year ago – DNS’d Richmond due to injury, ran the 12k instead.
I think back to 10 years ago, and the injured (and much slower, less trained & fit) runner I was then. If you had told me I’d run this time – regardless of anything else – I would have been THRILLED. If you’d told me the circumstances – my age, having had cancer, lingering/new injuries, 3rd marathon in a year, 2nd in 4 weeks, I would have been SPEECHLESS. And disbelieving. I AM GRATEFUL.
And I will say it again – IT WAS ALL WORTH IT.