I recently posted that I am getting physically worn out and mentally burnt out on running. This year has five marathons and one ultra on the schedule and I have little motivation to train for any of it. My ankle problem is acting up, and I just feel generally beat up. This will be my “farewell” marathon season.
I have had a lot of time to reflect on those thoughts. I think I have a better handle on it now.
The ever increasing marathon schedule was burning me out. The marathons stopped being special achievements, but expensive chores. My ankle issues are becoming more constant, and I know that I need to take care of myself or my long term ability to run will be cut short.
Being prepared to run marathons year round just isn’t fun anymore. It is also not needed for me to stay healthy.
Last year’s Ironman goal captured my imagination and propelled me to train like I never had before. Having completed one, I doubt that signing up for another would motivate me like the first one did. I would likely not be successful at it the second time around.
So, where does that leave me. Well, I think that I have (mostly) figured that out…
1) The remaining 2015 racing season will continue as planned (for now). Hopefully, knowing that this is the final year at this level of insanity, I will be able to stay motivated. Knowing that I am getting closer to my “final” marathon may make each one special again. I may get injured or get so burnt out that I won’t complete the season, but I intend to finish what I have planned…and get one ultra in the books before I am done. Knowing that there is “only” seven more months should help…
2) Full Ironman. Said it before, and I will keep repeating it. Never again. It was a wonderful day and I have cherished memories. I have learned from marathons that you never get the same excitement as the first time, and I want to save this as a unique event. I could never, ever, put myself through that training again.
3) Ironman 70.3: Likely never again (certainly not in the foreseeable future). This surprized me. With five completed races, I thought that I would continue racing this distance. I was supposed to do the Rev 3 Wisconsin Dells 70.3 this year…but it got canceled. Ironman had a rumored St Louis 70.3 race…but it never materialized. Challenge Family has one at Cedar Point, but I couldn’t make the schedule work. I feel so relieved that it didn’t work out this season. The thought of cross training for that distance is just overwhelming right now. I just feel that my Ironman journey is complete. I have reaped what I needed and the page has been turned. I am very comfortable with that chapter of my life as it stands, and that it is behind me.
4) Sprint and Olympic Triathlons: I will definately continue doing these. I have completed five to date with four on the schedule for this season. It motivates me to cross train, but to a degree that I can consider fun and enjoyable. There are a lot of great local events, so I avoid the “time suck” and expense of traveling. Triathelon season in this area is very brief and in mid-summer, so it provides a nice physical and mental break from all the spring and fall running.
5) Century rides: Never again. I have done 10 (6 solo, 3 large organized rides, and Ironman Wisconsin). These killed any love I could have develloped for cycling. 7+ hours on the bike just isn’t pleasant? I have completed the Tour de Tonka 100 mile ride yearly for the past 3 years. I might do a shorter ride this year, or I might just sit on the deck that day. Hopefully, shorter riding will allow me to enjoy the journey, instead of just racking on miles.
6) Marathons. This is the tricky one. Part of me loves the spectacle of this event. The big expo, the anticipation, the thousands of runners and tens of thousands of spectators. But I was never really good at it. Compared to my other running PRs, my marathon finish times were very poor. I always hit the wall and do not enjoy the second half. Running so many robbed it of its special status. Traveling for different events have cost a lot of time and money, and they just all kindof blur together. I just don’t know if this is a permanent goodbye or not…but I suspect that it is not.
What I am done with are these big multi-marathon seasons. I don’t want to be looking past my current marathon to the next and the one after that. Including my Ironman run, I have completed 10 marathons with 5 more (including the ultra) on the schedule for 2015. I will put no pressure on myself that I “must” run a marathon in any given year. Instead, I will sign up for one if I am physically healthy and mentally up for the challenge. If the drive is there, I will go for it. If it isn’t then I won’t.
I have a lot of marathons in my mental “parking lot”. Events that I “knew” that I would get to eventually. I have mostly emptied this parking lot. If I will ever do another marathon, it will be during the fall. I have no enjoyment in winter training. In the winter, I cut down, stay indoors and like to cross train. Spring marathons have never worked out for me, so I won’t even consider them in the future. Right there, a ton of marathons just disappeared from my calendar (Toronto Goodlife, Los Angeles, Fargo, Little Rock, Big Sur, etc). I can make a decision in the spring, train in the summer, and race in the fall (as the finale of that season). So, any marathon that I will likely consider would be between September and January (and, since my local Twin Cities Marathon is beautiful and in October, I will always have that option). If I do another, I would likely want it to be a big destination race. I would like to run a marathon major. I will never qualify for Boston. New York is an extreme longshot. Chicago is in driving distance and has reasonable odds via lottery. If I get the urge, this would likely be the event. Marine Corps Marathon is another reasonable odds lottery in the fall, and NYC is a longshot fall lottery. I could simply put my name in the lottery and let fate decide. Also, part of me would want my “final” marathon to be something big and special. I am sure Des Moines is nice, but I think it will be anticlimactic if I end it there. Don’t misunderstand me, I may never run another marathon. I will have to see if I get the desire to run another in the future. If I do, Chicago is the only one that is still in my mental “parking lot”.
7) Disney. I always planned to do the Dopey Challenge in 2018 (25th anniversary of the marathon and 5k, 5th anniversary of Dopey…5k/10k/HM/Marathon in 4 days). This no longer on the radar. I loved my two Disney races, but I have experienced them and don’t have a strong desire to revisit them. Also, training for the back to back long races is what led to my initial injury. Add in the time and expense, and it just isn’t worth it for me.
That said, I am a Star Wars geek, and the DL Star Wars Half Marathon is calling my name. That and Chicago are the only two destination races on my radar. Still tough to justify the expense. I will need to clear it with my wife (and faithful blog reader)… 😉
8) Local Races and Series. I am done with the Team Ortho series after this year. The events and courses (and swag) are the same every year. They also screw up every single event. It will be odd not starting the year with the Get Lucky HM and finishing the season with the Monster Dash…but I think I will survive. I will try the MN running series next year instead (a 10 miler in March, HM in April, May, July, and a 10k in November). Great bling, local, cheap. I will also do the Lifetime Triathlons that are local (Maple Grove, Minneapolis), and will likely enroll in the Twins Cities “Loony Challenge” every year. The Loony is a 5k/10k/10 mile combo during Twin Cities marathon weekend. My company has a corporate team and it allows me to participate in the biggest running weekend of the year in Minneapolis without actually running the marathon. I really don’t think that I could sit out the first weekend in October…
9) Shorter races (1 mile to Half Marathon). This will be the heart of my running future after this year. It is enough to maintain fitness. It is easier to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle without overwhelming the rest of my home and work life. I am much stronger at these events. If I mostly focus on these (instead of doin a hodgepodge of everything) I may get pretty good at those distances. They are cheaper, local, and much easier to train for. I can likely continue these indefinitely without much risk of injury.
Of course, as always, this is subject to change…