Sunday, December 20, 2015

Insane Thoughts

I honestly believe I was prepared for a PR last Sunday. Physically and mentally, I was there. Although I've given the advice to runner-friends, I can't seem to accept that factors outside of my control threw my race day so drastically off track.

If I thought there were other major factors, I wouldn't be playing with the idea I have right now at all. I'd be sticking to my "no marathon in 2016" plan. Now that I'm feeling recovered, I can't help this growing need to try again. Soon.
Okay, but to be fair, I never said never...
But as it stands, I truly feel like I got screwed out of something I worked really hard for not because I wasn't prepared, but because we can't control race day circumstances, no matter how hard we try.

The stomach cramps and liquid bowels I had at 16.5 and 23.5? Possibly heat-induced.

The inability to fuel correctly? Possibly heat-induced.

The need to stop every mile or two to stuff ice in my bra? Definitely heat-induced.

For BDR, I set a huge stretch goal and I meant to go for it. It was a big deal for me that I was honest with you all about my hopes for that race, because in the past my fear falling short has meant I set easier goals so I'd be sure to meet them, and it really sucked to have to write a report that was basically a long, long explanation of my failure.

But I think this was good for me. I've now failed, and I'm not dead. I'm not done. I don't feel defeated. If anything, I feel more determined than ever. And I'm no longer afraid of this regard, at least.

Over the past week, I've gone from wanting some time off and looking forward to it, to playing around with ideas. This is how I explained it to Kristin:
I love how quickly her tone shifts from incredulous to practical.

I certainly didn't feel this way after Space Coast in 2014; I was all too ready to take time off after that race. But this time, I don't feel I did my training justice. I want another shot. And I think my slow pace made the marathon feel more like a regular long run than a race, so I don't feel physically beat up.
This is an example of a reverse-taper plan from Runner's World that I could use to get me back into training in a smart, thoughtful way.
The bottom line is that if I turned my A1A half into a full, I'd have about 8 weeks to recover and train up again, which might be easier to do than to start from scratch in 2017. It means that for the rest of 2016, I would still focus entirely on speedwork and short distances, but I could at least have one more go at my marathon goal before eschewing long distance for a year.

I've done some research on how to reverse-taper. I've considered that this means I'd need to do another 20-miler (or at least 18) in mid or late January. I'm aware that that might not be realistic and it may be too much too soon; that's why I'm not rushing into any decisions right now. I've gotten advice on both sides of this decision, and I'm taking my time weighing my options.

No matter what, I'm lining up at A1A. Depending on how things feel, I may choose to upgrade to the marathon. If I do, it will mean I honestly felt like I was able to recover and return to training in a smart, safe way; if I don't, I won't be running a marathon in 2016.

I'm not disappointed in myself regarding BDR, but I'm frustrated with the situation. So, I'm not rushing this decision. But I'm definitely considering it.

Am I mad?
How quickly have you jumped back into training after a huge race?



megan @ meg go run said...

Okay, so I have a post in my draft folder with only a title. It's called, "I'm not giving up on my goal!". But instead of writing it, maybe I will just link to YOUR post because I could have written most of it about myself! I am also considering another race sooner rather than later, but I don't want to be hasty and do too much too soon- especially because I told myself I would CHILL for awhile after BDR. I know where you are coming from. You are not mad. Starting from scratch sounds harder than just going for it sooner. Same with me. Last weekend could have just been a really good training run in the grand scheme of things, you know?

I was scared to put a lofty goal out there too, then to admit I missed it by quite a lot. But now I am no longer afraid of just admitting to my "A" goal because admitting I failed ended up not being that horrible. I didn't beat myself up over it too long either. I know the side stitch and calf cramps in a WAY could have been out of my control, but if I had hydrated better and had more salt, maybe that wouldn't have happened. And hydrating, etc is definitely IN my control. I don't know.

Hanna @ TheMillennialNextDoor said...

I don't think you're mad, I think this is a normal reaction. I am already thinking about late May/June marathons I can do if something goes wrong at Pittsburgh and I want another shot. When you were prepared for a good time and didn't get it because of circumstances outside your control, it's hard not to feel like all that training was wasted and you might as well try to get something out of it.

There's no right or wrong answer here, as long as you play it safe and understand what you're getting yourself into, which it sounds like you do. I know that personally if I were to do a redemption marathon I'd do another one in the same season. No way I'm going through another whole training cycle.

Sarah said...

I actually don't think you're mad either. My first marathon went down the toilet, but that was because of muscle cramps. Probably caused by my own personal panic attack and inadequate strength training plus insufficient race experience. In other words, not stuff that can be fixed in 8 weeks. You had a tough race primarily because of heat. I'm not at all surprised you are thinking about trying again. Be sure you are really and truly recovered if you decide to go for it and think hard about what outcomes are acceptable and whether they are worth the risk.

I have a friend who missed her BQ by 30 seconds a few years ago. She raced again about 6 weeks later and missed by over 2 minutes. I don't think she has tried again since then, though she's done lots of other great stuff and a BQ is not a necessity for a happy life, by a long stretch. I do wonder what might have happened if she had waited 6 months to try again, instead of 6 weeks. But, I totally get where you're coming from and personally, I would be incredibly tempted to go for it.

James Douglass said...

I'd say if you're feeling a wave of motivation, of any sort, ride it.

Jim Kennon said...

YOU DID NOT FAIL!!!!! You didn't meet your goals, but you finished a freaking second marathon! You are allowed to be disappointed, but you are NOT allowed to feel badly about yourself. Big difference!! Definitely like your attitude about getting "back in the saddle". Sounds like you are determined. That's what is important. It is not significant that you fell short of your goals. In life, everybody will stumble now and then. What matters is what you do afterward. Go for it - but proceed with measured caution. And don't be upset if somewhere along the way something happens to put a halt to your plans. No matter whatever happens, don't let yourself ever be devastated by your performance in a race. There are much more important things in life. Go girl!!!

Girl Goes Running said...

I completely get this line of thinking. You are conditioned now from your marathon and are taking some recovery time now, which is totally necessary. I've run marathons 8 weeks apart following Hal Higdon's Multiple Marathons plan. It's completely doable as long as you don't overdo it in training and of course stretch and hydrate. :) You have a drive right now that I've had many times before and are looking for that redemption race. I've done this before and once won a local marathon and another time PR'd at the 1/2 when I was so driven. Go with your body and the way it feels. Don't be scared. Just be realisitc and determined. ;)

Kristina said...

I'm in no position to give anyone advice about marathon running, but I definitely don't think you're crazy at all. It seems completely realistic to think you could upgrade A1A to the full marathon. I know you'll listen to your body and do whatever is the right thing for you.

I would say that it's possible that it'll be just as warm at A1A in February. I know we had pretty nice weather last year in February for the race, but we also had fairly nice weather in November/December last year too. I was just looking at my training log from last year and was surprised to see how many times it was in the (upper) 60s at night/in the early morning during my runs in Nov & Dec. I've been told that the weather is actually supposed to be cooler this Jan/Feb since we've had such a warm winter so far which could mean really good things for both of us at A1A!

I definitely don't think it will be hotter than Cape Coral was and that's definitely a plus! A big plus! I was so so so impressed with your performance at Cape Coral. I saw so many athletes reduced to a slow walk, so many looking totally defeated by mile 24, and you still looked so strong. I'll never forget it!

... This comment is long and all over the place. The tl;dr is: I support your decision whatever it is! :D

Ali K. said...

The heat is the #1 thing I'm keeping an eye on. There's no point in me trying again so soon if the weather won't cooperate - I don't want to a repeat of BDR! I'm hoping the race organizers will let me change my registration last minute if necessary, but I haven't even heard back from them yet on how upgrading works.

You're support of my performance at BDR has seriously helped me to get over my disappointment. Thank you :)

Ali K. said...

I'm going to look into the Higdon MM plan!! Thanks for the tip!

Ali K. said...

Like I mentioned on FB, I'm rebranding failing. Failure is a step in a long process; we all have to fail if we want to eventually succeed at something great! Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison, and Steve Jobs are just a few famous failures whose footsteps I'd happily follow :)

Ali K. said...

I like the analogy!

Annie Crow said...

I don't think you're crazy at all. I would say go with what feels right. I've chosen smaller races to "prove myself to myself" after a disappointing race (for factors out of my control), but I certainly see the attraction to getting another marathon in!

The only thing I would say is YOU DID NOT FAIL! You finished, yes? To the best of your ability, yes? Then you did not fail.

Ali K. said...

I think you raise a couple of REALLY good points. If I rush back into this, I could end up with another setback and weighs more heavily on my confidence in the long run. I'm definitely going to listen to my body and my desire - this has to be about what I want, not about punishment or something like that. Thanks for your insights Sarah!

Ali K. said...

That's exactly what I'm thinking - that training in the same season will be easier than having to go through an entirely new cycle next time. I'm glad I'm not the only one who plays around with this idea. I like that you already have a backup plan for Pittsburgh just in case.

Ali K. said...

HA! I guess we really are in the same boat. BDR was not our weekend. But yes, in the grand scheme of things, it DOES feel like it was just a really good training run.

I do think it's invaluable that we learned to give up the fear of setting goals publicly. That's such a huge step for both of us, and it's VERY freeing! I think the lessons we took away from BDR ALMOST make the setbacks worth it haha.

Ali K. said...

I think I won't be publicizing this marathon much. I told Matt I don't want to make a big deal of it - if I run it, great. If I don't, okay. We'll see how things go.

As for failure...I had this debate on my FB wall when I shared this blog. I don't think failure is a bad thing; I know it may sound harsh to say "I failed", but I'm really okay with that wording. I think failure is an important step to success; every historical GREAT faced major failures in his/her time. We have to stop thinking of failure as a crippling negative when really it's often the boost we need to rethink and redo. I preach against the negativity of failure in my classroom, so I really feel like I need to embrace the term on MY terms in my own life, too.

Megan Michael said...

I agree! We learned a lot! I have a quote outside my classroom on a music stand that says something like "Masters have failed more than the beginners have even tried".

Christine said...

I missed my half marathon goal by a bit over a minute this fall. That night, I created a new plan and started immediately. I had run 3 halved in preparation, so I wasn't worried about the recovery. But mentally, I wasn't ready. I was anxious and frustrated. Suddenly running become a lot less fun. I decided to scratch my plan (will still be doing the half next week) and focus on something different for a bit. But I know plenty of people that keep their mileage up, so that they can run the distance again quickly. If it's fun and nothing hurts- go for it!