I never expected type those words…
For the last three years, I have been on this runaway train called “Ironman-Wisconsin”. My life revolved around it, and it was an obsession. The number of training hours that I was able to put in amazes me to this day.
I expected a post IM letdown, and it happened. I was worried that I would land on the couch and stay there, so I lined up a few events (including 2 marathons) for the months immeidiately following my big race. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about these (I assumed that I was just tired at the end of a long season). I then hit my offseason and recharged my batteries.
This past week, spring arrived, along with my first race of the year.
This is usually the happiest time of the year for runners. A chance to get off the treadmill and leave the YakTraks behind. I got out for a few runs and my half marathon.
I wasn’t feeling it.
The race (which I have done for the last three years) was a chore. Getting up early, getting my stuff together, driving an hour to the race site, dealing with parking, and finding my way to the start line were just hassles that I didn’t want to deal with. I went through the motions during the race (and I got a decent finish time) but felt neither the pre-race anticipation or the post-race sense of accomplishment. It was simply a chore that took up half of my day.
The neighborhood runs felt like chores as well. I am doing them since I have a marathon on the horizon, and I NEED to ramp up the long run. I found myself procrastinating on getting out there (used to be the highlight of my day).
To add to this, my Posterior Tibial Tendinosis had briefly flared up. Not bad, but a reminder that it is still there and will always be an issue for me.
So, I started wondering WHY I was doing this.
Short answer (and not entirely true) is that I am doing it to maintain health and fitness. This is important to me. But I don’t need to do 3+ hour long runs every week to be healthy. I run races for two reasons. First as motivation for keeping up with my fitness (having an upcoming race keeps me going out for my runs, even when I am lacking some motivation). Second, it is to prove to myself that I can accomplish amazing feats (such as an Ironman) when I have always viewed myself as sedentary and non-athletic. Well, I have raced enough that the second point isn’t motivating me anymore.
Over the past 3 years, I have completed the following:
-1 Ironman Triathlon
-5 Half Ironman Triathlons
-11 Triathlons (including the above)
-20 Half Marathons
-10 Century Rides
…and too many short races to count.
Having a race on the calendar just isn’t that compelling anymore.
I had already decided against doing another Ironman Triathlon (or century ride) ever again. Too much training and just too time consuming. I am reading the posts on various IM Facebook pages and training blogs, and I am really happy that I am not going through that right now. I had wanted a Half Ironman on this year’s schedule, but the Rev 3-Wisconsin Dells was canceled, and the rumored Ironman 70.3 St Louis never materialized. I am actually relieved to not have it on the calendar. I can’t imaging myself training for this again, and the traveling involved just seems like a pain in the ass. The more I think about it, the less I want to do another.
I am also beginning to feel this way about marathon running. The thought of ramping up my long run is unpleasant right now. I had previously blogged about decreasing the number of marathons I compete in, and I blogged about my frustrations at my ongoing poor performance at full distance marathons. I guess I need to admit to myself that I really just don’t enjoy marathon running…or the training involved. I enjoy the spectacle of the marathon…the expo, the build up, the bling…but not the training or the race. Not anymore. And the expo and build up have become rather dull for me as well. After doing so many, it becomes bland and routine.
So, where does this leave me. Well, I am still struggling to figure out how to balence running and fitness into my life. I am trying to sort out how to make it permanent and to achieve balence. I am better at shorter events, and I enjoy the training level that goes into those types of events. I am also tired of competing in so many events, and of traveling for them.
I feel that the time has come for me to walk away from the marathon. I also doubt that I will participate in another 70.3 again. At least, not in the foreseeable future.
So, what does this mean for my jam packed 2015 season? I will run it as planned. I will think of it as a farewell tour of sorts…one that has a light at the end of the tunnel. I still want to check off the Ultramarathon box from the bucket list. But I have five marathons left this year (Pittsburgh, FANS Ultra, Twin Cities, Kansas City, Des Moines) and I think I can handle (and enjoy) them if I know that will be the end of the line for marathons. It will result in 15 total marathons in 10 states for my marathon “career” (not bad for someone who could never imagine completing just one of these).
What does that mean for 2016? Well, fewer events for starters. Enough to keep me motivated to run, but not so many that I have perpetual burnout. Second, probably no marathons. I really can’t see myself finishing my marathon days in Des Moines. Someday, I may want to do a marathon major (likely Chicago, but New York and Boston would be great too). Two of the three are lotteries, the third would have to be via charity. I may toss my name is the hat for Chicago 2016 and late the fates decide…or wait until 2017 and keep 2016 marathon-free. I will likely sign up for the MN Running Series for some Half Marathons locally. Probably a couple of local sprint triathlons to keep some cross training in the mix. The season will likely culminate with the Twin Cities Loony Challenge as part of the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend (5k/10k/10 mile…not the marathon). Out of town traveling will be much more limited…perhaps none if I don’t do a lottery.
There are a few other events that are still tickling the back of my brain. Toronto is a maybe someday. It is a virtual home town for me, so it would be more fun then a random destination (ie: Cincinatti, Houston, or Tulsa), and I have a friend there that I would love to run with someday. Some Disney events still intrigue me just because they are so much fun. As a Star Wars geek, the DisneyLand/Star Wars Half Marathon sounds amazing. The Dopey Challenge in 2018 also sounds like an amazing weekend (25th anniversary of the WDW marathon, 25th anniversary of the 5k fun run, 5th anniversary of the Dopey Challenge). I might be able to justify the expense if I am not traveling all over the country for miscellaneous other events every few months.
And, of course, I reserve the right to return to marathon running or 70.3’s At some point in the future. After several years away from those events, I may find a rekindled fire to prove myself again at those events. But, for now, I will view 2015 will be my “farewell marathon tour”…