Monday, June 28, 2010

Quitter or Realist?

As I approached Mile 3.5 on my Sunday long run, I made a monumental decision:

I am not going to train for a marathon this year.

I didn't make this decision because I was tired at Mile 3.5. It was simply made during a moment of clarity.

I was thinking about how slow I've gotten as the weight has piled on. How I plan for 15-minute-miles on my long runs. How I want to be faster. How I had managed to gain weight last fall, despite running 16, 18, 20 miles on my long runs.

And I asked myself: Do I want to run a marathon, even if it means I ran a marathon-while-fat? Is my goal truly to run a marathon, or is it to be healthy?

There's also this nagging part of me that wonders if I've been sabotaging my weight-loss effort because I DON'T want to run (train for) a marathon. My heart doesn't believe that. But my head does. Perhaps I never wanted to get to 175 pounds because then the marathon plan would be written in stone.

I don't know.

On my return 3.5 miles on Sunday (I only did 7 total), I took my earphones out and walked back. I listened to the birds and the trees and my heartbeat. And I made plans for a new goal: I'll train for a 10K, with the goal of setting a PR. This will mean harder workouts, but not necessarily the longer workouts that accompanied marathon training.

You may wonder why I don't just take the marathon plan down a peg and train for another half marathon. My heart has, indeed, been heavy wondering when I'd run one again. It's been more than a year, almost a year and a half, the longest I've gone. And part of me wonders if I'll lose that part of me.

But when I do train for longer races, I sacrifice speed. I don't do speed training for fear of injuring myself and not being able to run long. It's only when I bump up my activity level and speed train that I see results in my body. Two summers ago, that was what I worked on. I had a little list at the bottom of my training calendar where I wrote "best times" and tried to beat them. I haven't done that in ages. it's time I refocus on that.

I would like to reiterate something from a long-ago post: I don't want to run a marathon simply to mark it off on a life's to-do list. I want to be a marathon runner. I want to be that girl in the cute running skirt with toned legs and arms who runs long because it makes her feel good and alive and because she can. This marathon goal of mine isn't going anywhere. It's just being postponed (again) while I try to focus on something smaller, yet bigger: How to get healthy again.

I call myself the Fat Runner, and while I'm not ashamed to be that (hell, I'm RUNNING), I don't want to remain that girl because I haven't tried harder to NOT be that girl.

So what is this 10K PR I speak of? Well, I've run countless 10Ks, but I've never gotten below the time I reached in my very first 10K (when, yes, I was my thinnest). It was the Oak Island Lighthouse 10K, and I ran it in 1:11:30, which was an 11:30-minute-mile. I've gotten close to beating it. Two summers ago, when I trained for speed, I managed to get a 1:12:30 in the Marine Corps 10K. I felt awesome in that race and would have achieved a PR had I not run out of steam in the last mile.

I've been as slow as 1:23.

My last 10K, last month, was 1:19.

So I have a ways to go.

As I was walking back on Sunday, trying to be all Zen about the decision I made, I couldn't help but wonder about how people would view it. Would they think I'm a quitter? Would they think, "Of course she's not going to do it. I never thought she would"? Would they be disappointed I'm not even trying again?

Am I disappointed?


Am I a quitter?


But am I at peace with my decision?


And, right now, that's what matters most. I can't run a 10K looking back.

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