Boy, this blog is schizophrenic isn't it? Running...baby....baby...running.
Elizabeth and Jennifer have been doing a monthlyish podcast that I've recently started listening to. Their most recent podcast was a Q&A from questions that people had sent in beforehand. (I sent in a question, but mine was not answered. :( I'm hoping maybe they'll answer it in their part 2 of Q&A.) I don't remember the exact question but they addressed the question regarding racing vs. participating - a very interesting question for two coaches who coach a lot of people who are wanting to do an ironman or run a marathon. It begs the question, is it more comfortable to go longer than to actually "race"?
And a very interesting question that has followed me for most of my running career.
My friend Andrea and I used to have some serious spoken and unspoken disagreements regarding racing. Although we trained together, our racing schedule was very different. I would do two marathons a year, while she would do more than that. I would actual train for races, while her intent was just to run the races. The frustrating thing for me is that she kept getting faster and my times seemed to stay steady. A couple years ago she moved to Colorado and changed her running habits. I changed over to triathlon. She has now begun to RACE and has gotten incredibly fast. So fast, I can't even be jealous anymore because I'm not even in the same time zone as her race times. I have had some success in racing again, but obviously took a step back since getting pregnant. She has struggled with injury and mental blocks recently, so I suggested to her that maybe she should just "participate" for a while. I can't believe I actually said that. (Of course, she went out and busted a 1:29 PR in a half marathon so it's a good thing she didn't listen to me.)
Myself, having gotten pregnant in the middle of my racing season last year, I was forced to participate. And you know what? I kinda enjoyed it. There were no expectations, there was no training, there was no nervousness, the people in the back of the pack were nicer, etc. I never finished DFL but came in with most "average" runners.
With only a few weeks left of my pregnancy, I've thought a lot about what will life be like afterwards. I have not signed up for any races. I have not outlined a race schedule. I don't even know if I will be able to or will want to continue to run. But, I have thought a lot about short versus long races. I do like to go long. I enjoy getting lost in the monotony of mile after mile after mile. Training for long distance races takes a toll on the body and for me, at least mentally, I struggle with putting all my eggs in one basket for a single race. Personally, I've done the marathon. I've done well in the marathon. I really have nothing to prove in the marathon. Would I like to go 3:20, 3:15, or better in the marathon? Absolutely. Does this define me as a runner? I'm not sure.
And then there's the damn ironman. Yes, I will continue to call it the damn ironman until I finish the damn thing. I sometimes feel a little haunted having not finished the race. Although as time has passed, I'm okay with not being an ironman. However, I still want to finish the race.
As I tip over the edge of early 30s into my late 30s this spring, I think about how much time I actually have left to get faster. Let's be honest, time is ticking. I would love to do another marathon. I would love to do the ironman. Heck, I'd even like to try a 50K. But, why would I do all that stuff now when I only have a limited time left to get faster at the shorter distances. Is doing the marathon, ironman, ultras really all about participating? Can one actually race those distances?
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think being called a runner is dependent on finishing a marathon? Or triathlete finishing an ironman? Which distance of race do you prefer? Are you comfortable with the uncomfortable? What are your thoughts on speed and age and how to pick races?