Chicago Marathon Training 2017

I was all set to let this blogging thing go, but recently I have felt like writing and being in the throes of marathon training, I actually have something to say on one of the subjects of this blog!

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Baby Nicholas turned 1! He was also nice enough to share his cake, unlike his mommy, who does not share cake EVER.

I am currently less than 40 days out from running the Chicago Marathon. Baby Nicholas is now almost 14 months—how is this possible?!—and yet he is still not sleeping through the night. He is still nursing at least once, if not 2 or 3 times through the night. I know he doesn’t need it, but I am having so much trouble weaning. I struggled so much with weaning Max as well, which is why I ended up nursing him for 2 ½ years!

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Anyway, I’m only explaining the sleep/nursing stuff because it’s causing me to be exhausted, which of course is affecting my training. During my last marathon training cycle in 2015, shortly before I got pregnant with Nicholas, I was running really strong. I got up early every day before Max and my husband Andy got up, and I was super consistent. Things are very different now! Early runs are out of the question because Nicholas is usually up around 6 and Max is up shortly after. Andy got a new job (no more nights and weekends!), but he works from 7AM to 5:30 or 6 PM. So my runs are at lunchtime while I’m at work, post-work with the double jogging stroller or by myself after the husband gets home, or after the boys go to bed on my trusty garage treadmill J I do actually get to run on the weekends BY MYSELF OUTSIDE now, which is amazing and different and I love it!

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Another positive to my husband being home on weekends is I can actually run races without having to find childcare – HUGE CHANGE. I randomly ran a half marathon in July because I could. I was just easing into Chicago training, but I managed to eek out a 1:47:39, which I was pretty pleased with—my PR is a 1:46:39.

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Currently I am running anywhere from 35-45 miles per week, with one long run. I know that’s a big swing, but I sometimes have to take extra days off because of life. My longest run has been a 17, and I have plans to run 20 this weekend and hopefully one other 20. I was consistently doing speedwork one day a week, but in August I kind of fell off that and haven’t really picked it back up. My heart just isn’t in training for a specific time right now. I wasn’t prepared for how mentally and physically draining having two kids and working full-time would be when I entered the lottery for Chicago. This spring and summer have also brought some huge changes as far as life goes and I’ve faced some personal stuff that has tapped me out emotionally. I sometimes forget how huge of an emotional toll training takes, and how you really have to have your heart in it to be successful. I have been training for marathons since 2007, and yet I still forget how challenging it is mentally even when it’s semi-routine. I still have the desire to run the marathon, but I’m not putting the pressure of hitting a certain time on my shoulders right now!

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Double stroller run with Max and …Carl?

That being said, I am doing my best to run my easy runs easy and to do some fast finish miles during long runs. I’m also running a very hilly route 1 to 2 days per week. I find long runs with fast miles in the middle or at the end and hill runs to be confidence building, and they seem easier to me than going to the track or doing speed on the treadmill. When I look back at my old training, I realize that I was running my easy runs far too fast. Easy pace for me is realistically closer to 9:30 maybe even 10, but I was pushing to run under 9 on easy runs. This wore me out too much to really go for it or be successful on my longer runs or speed work. Now I feel strong when I run my long runs and I have something in the tank for some quicker miles in there. I also feel pretty good on my hilly runs, so I must be gaining some power in my legs. I also occasionally just feel like running faster, which I can say I never felt in my last marathon training cycle 2 years ago. I definitely had to force myself to push the pace on certain runs. All of this will help when I hit the start line in Chicago.

Hopefully I can check in again closer to the race. I’m excited to run such a huge race and to have a weekend away from my kids with just my husband. Hopefully baby Nicholas will be sleeping through the night by then! Regardless, I want to enjoy the experience, as I have never run such a large race. Whatever the time on the clock reads when I finish, I will be happy and proud that I was able to complete a marathon during such a crazy time in my life.

Cheers and thank you for reading! Anyone else running Chicago?

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Semi-Annual Update

Oh, hey there! I’m here for my semi-annual update 🙂 It’s crazy to think that the last time I posted here, I was 37 weeks pregnant and now I have this little 4.5 month old:

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Nicky is a fairly easy baby and has a smile for everyone. I feel like our family is complete now and that we are so lucky to have him.

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Having a second baby has been harder in some ways and easier in many ways than having just one. With your first baby, EVERYTHING changes. At least for me, as I’d never had a dog and only had two cats that were my husband’s, I had never really had a living thing that depended on me. Going from only being responsible for myself to having a little being that needed me to do everything for him was rough. With this new baby, I haven’t had tomake such a monumental life change, we’ve just added him right into our life.IMG_6886.JPG

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What has been challenging has been learning to juggle two kids and dealing with my little three-nager. 🙂 Max never really went through the “terrible twos,” but three has been a different story! I love him to pieces though, and he comes by his strong will and stubbornness honestly. I’m trying to give him as much love and grace as I can, while also setting limits for him. It has been super difficult, but I feel like things are finally settling down and he’s adjusting to no longer being an only child, no longer wearing diapers (YAY!!!!!!!), going to preschool and sleeping in a big boy bed. A lot has changed for this sweet boy and all things considered, he’s doing amazing with the changes. I would certainly be throwing tantrums if so much of my life had been turned upside down! I’m trying to carve out one-on-one time for him as much as possible and fortunately have some wonderful babysitters who will watch the baby so I can spend undivided time with Max.

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Baby Nicholas has been just a joy. He sleeps well at night—daytime naps aren’t really his “thing”—eats like he’s marathon training and loves to jump in his jumper. I can set him down and do stuff, which is crazy to me as Max was the type of baby who liked to be held all the time. He babbles like crazy and he loves to laugh. He’s just a fun little dude.

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So that’s the “Motherhood” part of Motherhood and Marathons, but what about the “Marathons” part? Well, I’m back to running, but I have yet to do any races. I was nervous for the return to running, but it was pretty smooth. I just can’t seem to get in as many miles as I would like to because there are not enough hours in the day. Most weeks, I am lucky to crack into the 20s as far as mileage goes. I look back at even just over a year ago when a 40-mile week was a cutback for me and I just laugh. With less time for running, I try to maximize by making every run count. So if I only have 30 minutes after both kids are in bed, I’ll do sprints on the treadmill or bump up the incline as high as I can stand. Nothing groundbreaking, but I try to mix it up.

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Me running a race. This picture is old (November 2015 – pregnant and didn’t know it!) 

I also try not to get upset when I can’t get a run in on a given day, and I take every opportunity I get to run—even if it’s only 10 minutes. I do get cranky if I go more than 2 days without a run or some kind of workout, so avoiding that is key. My husband will literally push me out the door sometimes when he knows I need a run. Hopefully, there are some jogging stroller runs in my future. I found a sweet used double jogging stroller at a consignment sale that I cannot wait to bust out. The recommended age to use it is 6 months and up, so you better believe I am counting down the days until I can use it and also praying for a mild winter. Nicky can’t ride in the single jogging stroller yet either, unless I buy a car seat adapter and a completely different car seat and I just really don’t want to spend the money. I can wait 6 more weeks. I think.

I did sign up to run the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon at the beginning of November and I didn’t make it to the start line. Nicky was sick and had a very rough (AKA no sleep) night and I just could not motivate myself to go. So I didn’t! In hindsight, it was kind of silly to sign up to run a race when I had a > 3-month-old baby, but I figured it was worth a shot. I also hadn’t done any runs longer than 8 miles at that point, so I was probably going to have a rough time at the end. So instead, I spent the morning snuggling with my boys. Snuggles are better than races any day.

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Snuggles > Running

I am signed up to run the Santa Hustle Half Marathon in a few weeks, so we’ll see if I make it. My sister and I did a long run (10 miles!) on Thanksgiving and it felt pretty good! I doubt this will be a PR race, but it will be fun to get 2 hours off mom duty on a Sunday morning. Other than that, I don’t plan to run any races until the Spring. I’m sure I have mentioned this many times, but my husband and I have pretty opposite work schedules. He works a few nights during the week and all weekend long, while I’m a M-F 9-5er. This is great for childcare, but not so great for seeing each other and definitely not conducive to Saturday morning races. Pretty much all the races around here are on Saturdays (WHY?!), so I really have to be choosy about which ones I do. I’m not paying a babysitter to run a race every weekend or even every month. Santa Hustle is on a Sunday, so the husband will be home to watch the kids! Other than that, I’m waiting until April to do anything. And I might have my eye on a full marathon because I like putting myself through insane amounts of stress trying to squeeze in runs, care for my kids and work. Really though, I LIKE marathon training and I don’t have any other hobbies besides online shopping and drinking copious amounts of diet coke, so why not? 🙂

 

Anyway, lately I am OBSESSED with podcasts. I’m on the bandwagon hard right now. My #basic status is definitely official. I listen when I’m running or when I am commuting to work. My current faves are:

One Bad Mother – So funny, so real

Another Mother Runner

I’ll Have Another – So good and the host lives in Indianapolis, too!

How I Built This – Makes me want to be a #bosslady

Oh No Ross and Carrie

This American Life

But I need your help here. What other podcasts should I be listening to? I need to add more to my list!

 

Thank you for reading my very lengthy check-in. Hopefully, I’ll be back soon 🙂

 

 

37 Week Update – Runner Not Running

In about 3 weeks, our family will grow to 4!

I’m definitely ready to meet this little guy, though it’s scary to think that another human being will be reliant on me for pretty much everything.

But, I’m so excited for this next phase in our lives. And I’m pretty much OVER being pregnant.

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I don’t hate being pregnant, and at some times I actually really like it. I’m to the point however, where I’m just ready to be able to touch my toes and chase after my kid without getting out of breath. Or you know, walk up the stairs without huffing and puffing. I get winded from talking sometimes.

Maybe I should talk a little slower? 🙂

Anyway, I don’t want to sit and complain about being pregnant. There are good things and bad things about it. The good things definitely outweigh the bad. Like people are really freakin’ nice to me lately. They hold doors for me and pick stuff up when I drop it and tell me I look beautiful. Being super pregnant has actually restored my faith in humanity.

I also give no f**ks about what I eat right now—and it’s pretty fun. I’m a frequent visitor to Dairy Queen and I have now had Chili Mac Supreme from Steak ‘n’ Shake twice this week. Because I can. And I love it.

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I also eat ALL the donuts. Just like this guy.

The only thing that’s a little upsetting is that my running is non-existent right now. I ran the very day I went into labor with Max, but as of 36 weeks this time around I am no longer running. I just have too much pelvic pain and it’s not worth it. I had so many runs the last 5-6 weeks before I stopped where I would ask myself “Why am I doing this?” It wasn’t fun anymore.

Why keep torturing myself?

So, I’m on my bike trainer everyday. I’m also walking and swimming. I feel good. As long as I get those exercise endorphins somehow, I remain sane.

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Ok, just SEMI-sane

I’ll admit that I’m a little scared about what the return to running will be like. I pushed myself to keep up the running until the end of my pregnancy with Max because I wanted to bounce back quickly. I worked back up to my usual running pretty fast after his birth, but does it really matter? No. Not at all. If it takes me two years to get back to any kind of speedwork after this baby, it’s fine. I know that, and I will keep telling myself that.

One day, I will run races again. One day, I might even run a marathon again. And one day, I might even BQ. We’ll see.

Today is not any of those days. So I will eat my DQ blizzard and ride my bike and enjoy this day for what it is.

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Living the dream – just like Lizardy (named by Max)

 

Mildewy Wet Dog

I have absolutely nothing to wear.

Finding running/workout clothes for a growing bump is a BITCH.

I should rephrase that. Finding running/workout clothes for a growing bump without spending ridiculous amounts of money is a BITCH.

When I was pregnant with Max, I bought two maternity training tanks and a pair of pants from Old Navy. I also bought two pairs of Nike running shorts on super sale in bigger sizes. That was it. Part of this was because I didn’t start showing until a lot later in my pregnancy, and also because I wore my regular running clothes and just stretched them out.

This time around, I’m struggling. I’m showing a lot sooner than I did with Max. I swear at almost 20 weeks I look like I did with Max at 28+ weeks. Supposedly this is because your body just remembers what to do and does it way faster. Or maybe because I like Reese’s peanut butter cups a little too much. Whatever, it’s probably some combination of the two.

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I also am wiser this time around. I stretched out many of my favorite running items during my previous pregnancy, and they never went back. At the time I thought I was so smart squeezing myself into too tight capris and tanks and that I was saving sooo much money. Then I tried to put those clothes back on a few months after Max was born and they were so stretched out they were unwearable. Fail.

So, I’m faced with needing to buy some new running/workout clothes. “Athleta has some cute stuff!” a well-meaning friend told me. Sure, it’s cute—but not cute enough to pay $80 for a pair of pants I will only wear for another 4.5 months!

“Target has cheap maternity clothes,” they said. Since every other pregnant woman in North America knows this, they scoop up all the good sizes. Sure, if I wear an XL or an XS, I’m in business at Target. But I wear neither, so I’m screwed.

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I guess I’m back to the Old Navy drawing board. Fortunately, they have a 30% or 40% off sale nearly every damn day. But hurry, because the sale ends today! And then starts again tomorrow. If anyone ever pays full price at Old Navy or Gap, they are doing life wrong.

I’m starting to forget the point of this post? Oh yeah, I basically wear the same outfit on repeat for running or riding my bike trainer or DVDs. My husband politely informed me the other day that my maternity workout pants smell like mildew. By politely inform, I mean he said, “Gross, you smell disgusting. Like a mildewy wet dog.” Max overheard and has been running around the house chanting “MILDEWY WET DOG!” at the top of his lungs. This is my life in a nutshell.

Anything sounds cute coming out of his mouth. Also, yes it's February and he's still wearing Santa pajamas. If it still fits, he wears it!
Anything sounds cute coming out of his mouth. Also, yes it’s February and he’s still wearing Santa pajamas. If it still fits, he wears it!

I’ll just leave you with that. I’m off to buy some clothes that actually fit and don’t smell.

Have a mildewy wet dog kind of day, friends!

Life and Running Update

So, I can’t believe it’s been four months since I last blogged! Life has been busy, and I haven’t had much to say. Or maybe, I’ve had stuff to say—I just couldn’t tell anyone yet! BIG things are happening around here…

These last few months have been full of life and fun and exciting new things—and a lot less running. I did end up running the full at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November—I think I was contemplating whether or not to run the half when we last left off. I took it somewhat easy and I ran a 3:57 something, I think 3:57:15, but I am far too lazy to look it up right now 🙂

I felt pretty good the whole race, but it was definitely a battle between my legs, which wanted to go faster, and my brain, which knew I needed to take it easy. It was a great race though, because I wasn’t aiming for a goal time. I just ran.

A few days after the race, I found out some exciting news—Actually, I’ll let Max tell you:

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We’re beyond excited to be adding another baby boy to the Sharp family! And of course, this development is why I haven’t blogged. I can’t keep secrets very well, and it would be hard to talk about running when there is something huge that’s affecting my running!

Pregnancy has changed my running a lot this time around. When I was pregnant with Max, all I had to do was work and run. I could work all day, come home and rest for a while, run, and then rest some more. Now I have a toddler to look after, and that’s really magnified my exhaustion. Through my first trimester I tried to keep up the early morning wake-ups, but I was struggling to keep my eyes open in the evenings with Max. I now only get up early a couple of mornings a week, and the other days I squeeze a quick workout in at lunch or after Max has gone to sleep.

Holy Bump!
Holy Bump – and ridiculous bun 😉

I’m also running a lot less mileage and zero intensity. I’m having more aches and pains than I did while running with Max, and I’ve had some issues that may lead to me having to stop running through this pregnancy completely. That’s yet to be determined.

What would my blog be without unrelated pictures mixed in with lots of rambling?
What would my blog be without unrelated pictures mixed in with lots of rambling?

In the meantime, I’ve added in a lot more cross training and rest days. You know, things that I should have been doing when I was marathon training. I got a bike trainer so that I can ride my bike inside and it’s really starting to grow on me. Cycling is certainly in my blood, as my father did the Race Across America a few times in the early ‘80s, my brother is a cyclist and manager at a bike shop, and my sister is an ironman. I basically grew up on a bike, so I know my dad is thrilled that I’m finding my way back to it!

Max is showing me how fun cross-training can be!
Max is showing off how fun cross-training can be!

I also have found that walking on an incline can be just as heart-pounding as running, and I like to mix that in as well. I’m doing yoga a couple of times a week with some modifications to the poses, and I’m lifting light weights a few times a week as well. Even if I quit running completely until after I deliver the baby, I think all of these things will make the return to running that much easier! Why didn’t I do any of this stuff before?

Anyway, I will do my best to check-in here and update on my workouts, pregnancy and one day—my return to racing!

And because I am a proud mom and am unable to stop myself – here are more pics of my favorite little dude:

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Christmas

Halloween and Last Week’s Running Recap

Things got pretty serious up in here yesterday. While I started running to get me through some deep stuff, I continue to run because I just plain love it. It’s fun. It helps my mood and keeps me sane. It’s not always serious – in fact, it almost never is 🙂

Let’s lighten things up today and talk about Halloween and go over last week’s running, shall we?

Halloween flowers from the hubby :)
Halloween flowers from the hubby 🙂

It feels weird to be writing about Halloween – it seems like everyone has already moved on to Christmas at this point. My Starbucks this morning is in a red cup, I’ve already begun hearing Christmas music and the Toys ‘R’ Us massive toy catalog came this weekend.

Um, WHAT ABOUT THANKSGIVING PEOPLE?

Sorry for yelling at you guys. 🙂 I just really like Thanksgiving. I was explaining it to Max last night and he seemed pretty on board. My description was this: “All you have to do is show up at Amma’s house (my mother-in-law), eat lots of yummy food and DO NOTHING. It’s glorious.” He definitely agreed with me.

Let’s rewind though to Halloween. It was Max’s first time trick-or-treating. He was 6-months-old for his first Halloween, so we decided to skip it. Last year, he was 18 months and we were planning on going to a few houses, but it ended up snowing. This year, nothing was stopping us!

Mickey Mouse getting ready for candy!
Mickey Mouse getting ready for candy!

We went with my friend and her son, who is Max’s age too. Both of our husbands work at the same restaurant and were both working 😦 so we were on our own.

Mickey and Frankenstein being goofy
Mickey and Frankenstein being goofy

These two little cuties were so much fun! They were bubbling over with the excitement of candy and costumes. They kept ringing doorbells and then immediately saying “Trick-or-treat!” to closed doors. It was so adorable.

Trick-or-treat pros
Trick-or-treat pros

We were out for a solid two hours and carried the boys for ¾ of that time. Max asked me to pick him up after about 15 minutes! My arms were burning by the end of the night!

Mickey walking - this lasted about 15 minutes...
Mickey walking – this lasted about 15 minutes…

Overall, Max’s first time was a success! The boys ended up playing and eating candy at my house until after 9 :30 or so – which means Max didn’t go to bed until 10:30. We were all exhausted on Sunday.

This was from Halloween during the day, but the skeleton outfit was too cute not to share!
This was from Halloween during the day, but the skeleton outfit was too cute not to share!

I woke up Sunday morning to sore arms and a sore hip. Carrying Max for so long kicked my butt. Imagine carrying a 30-ish pound medicine ball for almost 2 hours. And the medicine ball is also moving around, screaming for candy and sticking lolly pops in your hair. That was my arm workout Saturday night :). It’s Tuesday, and my arms are still a little sore.

On to running…

What should I call last week? Indianapolis Marathon recovery week #2? Monumental Marathon taper week #2? I have no idea.

I actually took last week easier than the week before (Indianapolis Marathon recovery week 1). I went a bit too hard that first week after the Indy race. Did I really need to run 40 miles? DUMB. I felt good that week, but it caught up to me this past week. I felt pretty run down and a little achy.

And here’s the thing about training for me: I know what I SHOULD do. But, I think I’m some sort of superwoman and I can do what I WANT (which is not take time off from running after a marathon) and that I’ll be fine. Add that to the list of things I need to work on. Acceptance is the first step 🙂

A gorgeous fall scene from one of my runs last week
A gorgeous fall scene from one of my runs last week

So here’s how last week shook out:

Monday: 4 miles 8:56 pace

Tuesday: 6 miles 8:02 pace

Wednesday: 5 miles 8:49 pace

Thursday: 7.2 miles 8:31 pace

Friday: 9.2 miles 9:00 pace

Saturday: 4.25 miles 7:51 pace

Sunday: REST

TOTAL: 35.65 miles

I took this Monday off as well, and today was a laid-back 7 miles. I’ll probably run 5-6 tomorrow and Thursday, then take Friday completely off. Then MARATHON on Saturday!

I have decided that I will run the full on Saturday. However, I’m going into it with no expectations. My goals are to finish and to listen to my body. If my body wants to run 11-minute miles – then that’s what I am doing! I am making a promise to myself today that I do not need to prove anything, but that I do need to take it easy and treat my body kindly. I need it to keep on running with me for another 50+ years.

The Monumental is a beautiful race through my city, and right now the weather looks good! This will just be a fun jaunt through Indianapolis 🙂

That’s all I have today. Anyone run NYC? Who’s racing this weekend? Did you go trick-or-treating?

To Run the Half or The Full – A Monumental Decision

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I’m sill waffling back and forth as to whether I should run the full or the half at the Monumental Marathon. If I don’t decide within the week, I’ll be stuck with a marathon bib.

I can still back out in the middle of the race—the half-marathoners go their own way around mile 6. But then I’ll be the person with the marathon bib that all the volunteers are yelling at to go the other way. And then I have to yell back, “I changed my mind! I’m running the half instead!”

I’ve obviously been there before.

I’m struggling to decide what to do, so I figure the best way to decide is to lay out the reasons for and against running the full.

Reason to Run the Full #1

I want to redeem myself.

 The Indianapolis Marathon on October 17th did not pan out how I would have liked it to. I believe that I have a 3:4x:xx somewhere in me.

Reason to Not Run the Full #1

Redeeming myself may not be physically possible.

Realistically, it’s going to be tough to pull out a PR 3 weeks after another marathon. I have done these races back to back before, but I was not going for a time goal. I ran them both fairly easy and my times were only a few minutes apart. BUT, in 2010 and in 2011, I ran the first marathon faster. I remember my legs feel weird at the Monumental both times.

Reason to Run the Full #2

I love running full marathons.

I just do. I’m probably more equipped and better built for half marathons, but fulls are my jam. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with running 26.2 miles. I can’t really explain it.

Reason to Not Run the Full #2

Extra time with little man. 

I am taking the day before the Monumental off and I have the entire following week off, so I will definitely be getting lots of time with him. But hey, ANYTIME with him is awesome. If I run the half, I get home to him a couple of hours earlier. Plus, I will be able to actually chase him around and play with him, instead of hobbling like a zombie.

Reason to Run the Full #3

I will want to race the half, and may not be ready for racing just yet.

If I choose to run the half, I’m really going to want to race it. It’s hard to keep that competitive drive down. My body may not be ready for the hard effort.

Reason to Not Run the Full #3

I might be able to pull out a big half PR.

On the other hand, after lots of long runs and a recent full, I might be able to pull out a nice half PR. I tested out a few more faster miles this morning, and it felt pretty good:

Tuesday

What this really boils down to is that I want to run another full marathon and have a good race. And by good race, I don’t mean that I have to run the time I’m shooting for or even PR, but I want to HAVE FUN. I did not have fun at the Indianapolis Marathon. I had put to much pressure on myself to enjoy it.

I also have the secret hope that my speed and endurance are still there from this training cycle, and that I will be able to run a PR race. This may just be wishful thinking.

I will continue to change my mind 50 times this week. Indecision is one of my strongest character traits.

It wouldn't be one of my blog posts without a picture of Max!
It wouldn’t be one of my blog posts without a picture of Max!

Have you ever run goal races in the span of a few weeks? How did it go? Would you do it again?

What would you do if you were me?