Modifying Goals Is Not Wimping Out. Right?

Last time I briefly mentioned how I’d hoped to finish the Pittsburgh half marathon (coming up in just under a month) faster than I finished the first one I ran last September, which was 2:23.  I thought I could train hard enough – without killing myself – to finish around 2:10-2:15. Now I know that isn’t going to happen, and I’ve almost come to grips with it.

When I was resting for two weeks because of my foot, I was way bummed.  For one, running is my mood-elevating drug so without running my mood was pretty lousy all around.  But also, I knew that my plans were slipping away and it made me feel fairly demoralized.  There were about two days were I very much wanted to sell my bib for Pittsburgh so that I could just stop worrying all together about the training .  Just scrap the whole damn thing.  Give myself a total out because I felt like it would be a “failure” to run the race slower than 2:23.

Then I went to Just a Short Run last week and finished it.  Even though I still think it’s mildly hilarious that I bothered to take almost three hours to finish 13.1, I realized that I was so much happier there – even when I was bored as hell toward the end – than I would have been at home on the couch.  So I’m going to do the same thing for Pittsburgh:  I’m going to Show Up and just see what happens.

I’ve decided to hope to run 2:40 or under and to be fine again with taking as long as three hours.  In short, I guess I’d say that my A goal is ~2:40 and my B goal is <3:00, and my C goal is to just not get picked up by the sweep bus!

I intend to make it a different kind of race.  One where I’m focused on the time I’m having, not the time I’m running.  I’ve never been to a “big” race like Pittsburgh – where the town comes out to support the runners, where there is entertainment along the way, and where you get to see a whole lot more scenery than the trail and park races I’m typically running.  I’m pretty excited to simply take all that in during the race.  Also, my revised plan is to run it with my friend Jess who is one of my “slower” friends.  I hate to even call her that because she’s awesome and has a very high level of fitness.  Her household schedule simply doesn’t allow her to train as hard or as consistently as some of my other mother runner friends can manage.  However, I’m certain that if her schedule allowed and she wanted to, she could outrun me and quite a handful of my other mother runner friends!  Jess ran the Pittsburgh half last year and told me how much I’m going to like the course.  I’m looking forward to having a good buddy to run with.

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Jessica, after a 5K we ran in February (that’s my hand with the coffee)

I think my goals are reasonable, but I’ve realized during the last couple of days that I still have to be disciplined about my training, only in a different way than I usually think about it.  Here’s what’s going down with me.

Friday, I didn’t get up to run because I stayed up too late on Thursday.  Even though I got a little extra sleep by sleeping in, I was still tired and suffered a major headache Friday afternoon.  I think the causes, were lack of sleep, lack of hydration, and lack of caffeine.  This morning, I was uber-excited to join a few friends I haven’t seen for AGES on a run.  I wasn’t planning to stick with them the whole time, as they were running 10, and I was hoping to do 6-8.

But I had to turn back sooner than expected because I began to get another big headache even though I’d gotten enough food, water/Gatorade, and sleep.  (This ultimately worked out well for me, as I finished running with my friend Chrissy who yelled and me to keep going the whole time!  I performed much better than I would have on my own.)  Some water and a hit of my Island Boost got me through, but I quit at six miles instead of getting to seven or eight.  I suffered some aches and pains along the way, but at six miles, my body was still willing, but my head wasn’t (and not in that mental-toughness sort of way).

It got me to thinking.  If I’m going to show up at the half on May 5th, I need to do a few things in addition to running consistently:

  1. I do need to run consistently.  No skipping the 5:00 AM runs with the girls and make sure I get a long run in each week.
  2. I probably need to make sure I get my cross-training in, as well.  That means, Power Pump on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, 5:45 AM.
  3. I need to be well-rested.  If I am going to consistently meet my friends at 5:00 AM 2-3 days a week for the next four weeks (and Power Pump at 5:45 one-two days), I need to get to bed at a decent hour.  This means I have to get the girls to bed on time consistently, which is probably the bigger challenge.  It also means no more tackling major projects or household chores late into the evening.
  4. I need to eat nourishing food.  I’m having a little bit of a disordered eating issue lately (which I intend to write about later).  Gotta knock it off and eat good, real food, including lots of fruits and vegetables.  I know I feel better the more plants I eat.
  5. I need to include caffeine.  Yeah, yeah, it’s a drug and people can become too dependent on it and all that.  But from now until the half, not only am I not going to wean myself off of it, I am going to make sure I consume some before each athletic activity.

There’s still a little voice inside my head that is telling me that I’m wimping out by not being more ambitious in my training and time goals.  That voice is perpetrating like she’s the inspiring, you-can-do-it! one that we all try to tune into.  But it’s actually a lying b!tch voice that is trying to drag me down, trying to make me feel like I’m not good enough for having to modify my goals.  The voice that would actually rather see me give up than keep going.  Good thing I’m on to her.

I know I’m actually stronger for determining to run but run slower.  I know I’m actually smarter for deciding to redefine success for this race.  And I know I’m actually wiser for being able to shut that voice down.

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