Saturday, 18 May 2013

Accepting Limitations and Exceeding Expectations

I love running in organised races, but I hate training. It's not a lack of motivation, although finding the time can be challenging. It's not isolation, as I've trained with a partner or groups. Mentally, I just can't get my head into putting the same amount of effort that I would for an official race. I know training is going to be more important as I get older, but for now I seem to be able to get away with throwing down my best times on race days. Husband is always chiding me that I could be much faster if I trained properly. Interestingly, he is much more diligent about training, but doesn't want to race as much.

So, apparently I did announced in my post A Marathon versus a Sprint that I was planning to run an 18 mile run this month. I've been able to keep my baseline fitness level at a point where I can easily run a 10K at any time, so I find that I only need a few weeks to train for a half marathon. I wanted a challenge that would actually require me to properly train. January was a little colder than usual, which discouraged me from engaging in long runs. I started running more in February, but by March I had to work around having swim meets every other weekend. As a sprinter in swimming, I needed to preserve my legs for kicking. Suddenly it was April and I realised the 18 mile run was only  6 weeks away. I set up a training plan and started increasing my distance every 2-3 miles each weekend. The day I was slated to run 15 miles, I found that I ran the first 12 easily and struggled during the last three. I was starting to doubt if I would be able to run the 18 mile distance. Then I took note of the fact that I wrote the wrong date of the race in my calendar. The race was actually one week earlier.

It kills me to back down from any challenge and to admit that I can't do something. I realised I had a choice to make. I could probably finish the 18 mile race, but it would be a slow struggle, or I could change my distance to a half marathon and complete it in a semi-decent time. It was time to accept my limitations. At this point in my life, I'm not able to manage running more than a half marathon. 13 miles is still a recpectable distance, and probably not too many people can pull it off with only a few weeks of training.

I figured I would probably come in around 2:25, but somehow I managed to keep my pace per mile under ten minutes for ten miles, which would put me close to a 2:10 finish. It was a rather hot day, so I stopped at the last two aide stations are really took time to rehydrate (I don't usually stop at all during a race). My runkeeper time (which does pause when you stop running and I know isn't completely accurate) had my time at 2:15.43 (my best time was 2:14). The official clock recorded my finish at 2:20.17. I had exceeded my own expectations.

So the obvious analogy is that I accepted our biological limitations that we likely won't conceve wihtout assistance and I hope our fertility treatments will exceed my expectations. The last time I ran a half marathon was on the exact same course (although in the opposite direction) the day before I found out I was pregnant. I looked up my time on that day -2:20.15 (although I didn't stop at all during that race). I know it doesn't mean anything more than consistency, but should I become pregnant this cycle, I'll declare there is something lucky about that race course.


  1. It takes a lot to realize your own limitations and take things easy. Not everyone can do it, and they end up pushing themselves and getting hurt. That's a great time, especially for not having enough time to train properly! I wish I had kept my baseline fitness enough to run a 10k whenever I wanted...

  2. Life will always throw something at you, and it's difficult to determine whether it's best to take the challenge or to let it pass by and take the next one. Good for you for giving yourself permission to "pass this one by" if you can even call it that (since a half marathon is still challenging in and of itself). I have never been good at going with the flow when plans need to change....

  3. wow! i am just amazed by you! super impressive! and i totally hope this ends up being your lucky course!

  4. While I have NO doubt you could have finished the 18 miles, you are probably right in that it would have been slower than you were willing to accept. I'm with you, I hate to train but love the races. Although, I can't just go whip out a half marathon like its nothing. I did run my 10k recently, but was very under trained and I was slow. I was okay with slow because I expected it, and I even did better than I expected :) You are amazing in your dedication to fitness! I admire your running AND your swimming. I hope this race course is a preclude to a pregnancy this time as well!