Marathon: you win this round

Family Pictures 148 300x200 Marathon: you win this round

Post NCR Marathon a million years ago

It all started so innocently, and looked so promising. Way back in 1998 I ran my first marathon, the NCR Trail Marathon in Baltimore County. I came out of it with a 3:39, not even knowing what the heck I was doing. A BQ at the time, and I didn’t even go. I was too focused on triathlon that year to care.

A couple of kids and more triathlons later, and I decided I wanted to give another marathon a go. I went through some GI issues with a few, then got that issue straightened out. A few more years of triathlon, an injury, and then all of a sudden, I was getting older. Old enough and running long enough to worry that I was running out of time to PR, to break a certain number barrier.

I had a couple of good marathons (Richmond 2009 and 2010) and then another injury. Crap–the clock was ticking. Thus began my four marathons in the last 20 month cycle–none of them–not a single one, worth a damn. I’ve tried everything along the way to crack the marathon code, but apparently, it escapes me.

So today I am at a place where I can say, “marathon, you win.” Right now, I don’t have the mental fortitude to fight it anymore. Boston 2014? Nope, not gonna attempt it. I need some space.

For now, the marathon and I will have to work off memories. Not all of them have been bad, but enough that I don’t want to make more any time soon. It doesn’t mean I won’t be back, but right now, I’m in no hurry. I’m going back to shorter races for a while–10-milers, half marathons and even a 10k or two, because I’ve missed them. And I’m not so terrible at them, either. We’ll meet up again sometime, the marathon and I, but I’m setting no timetables. I’ll know when it’s right and when I’m ready.

How about you–ever have a race or certain distance become your nemesis? 

pin it button Marathon: you win this round

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  1. The Big race in Cape Town, Two Oceans Marathon, a 56km race…

    I should have raced it back in ’96 when I was in good shape, but it took it easy helping friends to run a good time, and from then on the race didn’t like me…
    Coach Dion recently posted..GOING FOR BROKE AND GETTING IT…My Profile

  2. Wow. I know that you didn’t come to this decision lightly and I think that it takes a lot to recognize that you need some space rather than continue to push through and insist on running marathons. I really respect that and admire that about you Amanda. I know that you’ll be back and I hope that this break lifts a bit of weight off your shoulders.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Good TidingsMy Profile

  3. I’ve got tons of respect for you right now. Not an easy decision to make at all. I was seriously thinking of a marathon in early May but now that I’ve had more time to think with this whole lay off from running thing the past 4 weeks, I’m not doing it. If a marathon does happen, it’ll be in the Fall. I don’t want another cycle of 2013 – train, injury, train, injury. I’m doing the same thing as you – working on the shorter distances. Maybe I’ll even get my first 5k in (finally)!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..High Five for FridayMy Profile

    • Angela–I think that’s a smart move. I’ve found that having a big race after an injury layoff just begs more injury. Fall will work out perfectly for you!

  4. I hate to see anyone give up but you have to be into mentally. You really impress me. What you have accomplished so far is pretty awesome. Heal and get your head together. After that, anything is possible!
    Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness recently posted..California Dreamin’…My SpinMy Profile

  5. You gave it a good fight! And sometimes the shorter races are tougher, no excuses to take it easy.
    Kovas – Midwest Multisport Life recently posted..Epic RaceMy Profile

  6. I am sorry to hear you have had so many issues with it, but it is inspirational that you got straight back out there after having kids ect and gave your heart to it! That took courage, and you should be proud :)

    I definitely am very wary of the marathon right now, I thought my debut marathon was going to be a dream come true, I was “made” for the distance,” I am tougher than anyone”……but things do not always work as we like, and it was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. The marathon definitely won that day.!

    Sometimes we have to take a step back to readjust our perspective, and come back stronger in another way.

    You are still an inspiration, but maybe for now….we can admire you in another distance :)
    Tina Muir recently posted..Thai Turkey Curry SoupMy Profile

  7. Your not alone the Marathon absolutely has a way of just stinking sometimes and the code to running them? Ugh no such thing haha! I’m impressed with all that you’ve accomplished this far in your marathon/running history and so should you. I’m excited to see you crank out these shorter distances and enjoy them. Maybe because you told the marathon it wins this year it will give you a break next year? Who knows!
    Holly recently posted..Turkey Barley Soup and Turkey TrotsMy Profile

  8. What a tough decision but it sounds like this change will be a good one for you. The shorter distances are definitely still a challenge. I swore off marathons after I completed my first race but I’ve decided to try it at least once more to really see what I can do instead of just finishing the race. I’m planning on running Chicago in 2013.
    Angie @ A Mother’s Pace recently posted..Getting Back to NormalMy Profile

  9. I understand your sentiments. It’s actually how I feel about my nemesis, a certain time frame on the marathon distance. I actually rather focus on a sub-2hr Half, but until I run a marathon in the time I know I should be able to do and not have any problems plague me on the route, I feel I can’t focus on it. Ah… the demons of this sport ;)
    Christina recently posted..It’s time to deploy active running recoveryMy Profile

  10. Sounds like you have the right attitude. As you know all too well, there’s so much that goes on mentally in a race and clearly, you need a mental break from that pesky marathon!! I’m putting off attempting another one (my last was in 2007) until the boys are in school “full time” b/c I know the training commitment I need to make. Sigh.
    Allie recently posted..How To Survive the Elements & 20% Off…My Profile

  11. The marathon is not the same thing for everyone and you have a healthy attitude towards it. I am also seriously questioning my reasons and “need” to run another. I don’t really enjoy the distance and neither does my body. Taking time to run and train for the distances and events that you actually enjoy, is becoming more appealing to me versus the artificial pressure we put on ourselves to run a marathon.

    Ah choices and decisions that go against the grain are so hard :-)
    Harold L. Shaw recently posted..Rail Trail Run and a Running Shoe DecisionMy Profile

  12. i don’t think the marathon won, i think you are smarter from taking space from it. You will dominate later!
    Lindsay recently posted..Friday’s FOR by FOUR: Food, Fitness, Holidays, and more.My Profile

  13. Sounds like you know exactly where you need to be right in this monument and I agree when the time is right you will know it! 2014 will be my fort marathon year and unknown the time is right, although it may be my first and last because marathon training is pretty rough on my body!
    Toni recently posted..3 Ways to Avoid the Holiday BulgeMy Profile

  14. I’m in the same place, working on shorter distances for awhile. You’re a strong runner and have PRs left to run.
    Gracie (Complicated Day) recently posted..It’s December?My Profile

  15. Oh, the marathon… it’s such a heart breaker! I’m leaning away from marathons for a little while, too. I want to be able to train well and also complete my goal, and not worry about injury or over training which is a tricky line for me with the marathon. Looking forward to hearing about your successful shorter races!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..December Fall 5 and 10 Winners + link upMy Profile

  16. Tough decision to make for you I’m sure, but definitely confident you will do the right thing for you! All the best with the new challenges that I’m sure, will be just as if not more, fulfilling for you!. All the best and happy training. Staying injury free is the most important thing for all of us though.
    Robin recently posted..My HeartMy Profile

  17. I have such respect for you Amanda – for knowing what’s right for you and being willing to take a step back. Here’s to an injury-free and healthy you in 2014!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..#OneSmallChange Week 9My Profile

  18. I have to say I have made the marathon my nemesis the past 18 months. It’s my own fault, wanting more, pushing too hard for some elusive number. I have decided to switch focus in 2014 and will do some triathlons. I’m going for some big races, but that’s just me and I need big goals to go after. However these goals will not be time based, and that will be a relief to me. Sure I may throw a marathon or two in, but I’m taking all pressures off and they will be just for fun, because the distance is sill fun for me.
    Beth @ Miles and Trials recently posted..Snowy RunMy Profile

  19. Ughhhhh sometimes coming to these decisions is so brutal– letting go of that goal (at least temporarily) can be so hard! I’ve never experienced this with running, but definitely in other aspects of life. Usually the space is so refreshing– like a weight has been lifted!
    Colorado Gal recently posted..Initial Thoughts: Mizuno Wave Rider 17My Profile

  20. 5Ks are my nemesis. I haven’t done one in probably 3 or 4 years now. My running buddy has kind of put fulls on hold for now. I know she’ll go back to them, but for now, she’s content to do halfs and even 5Ks. I think it’s kind of cool to say no to the full until you’re ready again rather than doing them because you feel like that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..At-Home Workout Gift GuideMy Profile

  21. I said this all of last year and then post NYC I’ve been feeling like darn it I want redemption. The thing is I see how much better I feel all around when my training doesn’t exceed 17 miles…so who knows what I will or won’t do…but progress and fun shall continue!
    Amanda @runtothefinish recently posted..Vegan Vanilla Pumpkin Protein Muffins (GF, V, Eat Clean)My Profile

  22. You ran a 3:39 trail marathon? You are a beast! You need to throw in some shorter trail races to your schedule and tear ‘em up.

    More importantly, good for you! The marathon is a total beast and can do a number on your mind and body. There’s just something about pushing your body past 20 that is NOT right.
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Holiday Links for People Who Love to LaughMy Profile

  23. You took my breath away a little bit, Amanda. I always feel like runners (and many cyclists) have this attitude of “nothing will stop me” not pain, weather, distance or even age. It’s like this crazy mind game we play with ourselves. I’m so incredibly impressed that you are so in tune with yourself and your body that you know when to back off. While you haven’t quit, you know what’s going to work best for you and and where you are right now. It’s a huge decisions and an incredibly important message.
    Michelle recently posted..We’re Headed to Manhattan!My Profile

  24. Ugh, I have been dealing with the same thoughts! I swear, my body just doesn’t handle the 26.2 training regimen very well. 5k – too fast (injury), 26.2 too far (injury)…13.1 seems to be a just right for me place. I just have to adjust my mind to not feeling like a failure for that! Signed, Goldilocks
    Sheila recently posted..True Confession Thursday: Decisions, DecisionsMy Profile

    • MissZippy says:

      Sheila–and it’s not a failure to not marathon. It’s our skewed blogger world that makes us feel that way. Step away if you feel it’s what’s best for you!

  25. 10 milers are my nemesis. I don’t even know why. My first one is still my PR, but it is so long ago that I don’t think that time even counts anymore. The more I do, the worse I get. You’d think I’d just pick another distance, but I’m dumb.

  26. I like this post and this decision. I think so many runners, especially in the blog world, think the marathon is everything. What’s wrong with focusing on shorter distances and pushing the pace?
    Good for you for making the decision. Can’t wait to see your training for shorter races! I think that might be where I’m headed this year, too.
    Abby @ Change of Pace recently posted..Tis the season – food & fitnessMy Profile

  27. When running is no longer fun and amazing, it is time to reevaluate what you’re doing. And it sounds like you weren’t in a happy place with marathons, so bravo on a tough but great decision. It’s NOT giving up! It is realizing that your focus needs to change right now, and you need to find that happy place again. Who cares what the distance is!

  28. You’re doing absolutely the right thing. And it really doesn’t matter if you never run another marathon. Have a break and enjoy some shorter stuff and then see where your head and body’s at.
    Char recently posted..My Husband – The Thrill-seekerMy Profile

  29. I completely get this. I crashed and burned at my first (and only)marathon, Chicago 2011. It was 80 degrees at the start, and I fell apart at mile 14, cramping. I managed to finish, albeit an hour longer than I should have. So sad, since my training went really well. And then, a couple weeks later….a stress fracture and the boot.

    So as much as I’d like to avenge my time, I’ve made my peace with the marathon distance. I ran 3 halfs this year and totally enjoyed them–not to mention killed the last one. Who ever said we HAVE to do marathons?

  30. I know this hasn’t been an easy decision – sorry for that.
    I wonder if you just step back from the intense marathon and keep training and running if you decided to just run a marathon later for “fun” if it would be similar to your very first? Sometimes I think the pressure we put on ourselves is too much. Just my rambling thoughts tonight.
    Mostly I’m glad that you didn’t say running wins – glad you are just shifting your focus.
    Kim recently posted..The Toothache DilemmaMy Profile

  31. It must be frustrating when you know that you have what it takes, but then it just doesn’t go as planned. I think taking some time, run shorter races, then you can get back to it if you want. You might take a look at what you’re doing differently to figure out why the marathon has been winning lately.
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Weekly Reader: Quick Wisdom from the WebMy Profile

  32. I can’t say that I blame you at all. I completely understand. When it’s right, you’ll know. Then you and the Marathon will tango again.
    Katie recently posted..My Favorite Things GiveawayMy Profile

  33. I have a feeling the 10k will be my nemesis. It seems like a hard distance to get right. You want to go as fast as a 5k, but then you risk really pooping out. I’ve been avoiding it, because I’m not looking forward to the pain.

    Is it possible that you might approach a marathon with no expectations whatsoever? Enter one without putting pressure on yourself to finish in under 3:30 or whatever. Run the first half VERY conservatively (1:50-1:59? I know, lame…), then crank it up in the 2nd half if you feel like it, otherwise keep the same easy pace and just finish feeling good. Running 26.2 miles and feeling good pretty much the whole time might ease some of the anxiety that seems to surround it.

  34. That is exactly how I felt with my goal of a sub-2:00 half. I accepted that it just wasn’t going to happen and moved to distance goals (and loved it). A year off without focusing on pace and PRing I’m ready to try again. 2014! Maybe it will be MY year!

    I have this feeling that I can’t explain. This is where I am meant to be with running. It’s a nice feeling.
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  35. Christine Campbell says:

    I can completely understand and have reached the same conclusion a couple of weeks ago. I ran my first marathon in 1996, same time, also a BQ and I had no desire to go. Later it would take me 5 try’s to get back. Now, at 47 and having completed 14, a lot of them not fun and involved stressful training periods only to be let down, I am moving away from the marathon. I may be back but I want to have fun and enjoy running the way I used to.
    Happy running !

  36. ha! for a while,bracing itself was a nemesis. hoping to finally turn it around. Watch out other races-variety, is after all the spice of life.
    Adrienne recently posted..Texas Trails 20k Race ReportMy Profile

  37. Wow, you have no idea how happy I am to read this post! -You are to be respected for so much in your training, dedication, and running in general -and to know that you are now okay with training for something other than the marathon is not only a huge relief for you, but also for me :) -I love to run, have run 5ks, 10ks, and half marathons, but have never been able to train for a marathon without injury so on one hand I’ve often sort of felt like a wanna-be runner -I work full time, commute 2 hours a day, have 2 young children, have fun doing non-running physical things and so decided that, at least for now, I would enjoy my running and be okay with the fact that I don’t run marathons -BUT in the back of my mind I still have the little nagging, “you aren’t a real runner” thought… you are unquestionably a “real runner”! So you making a decision not to run marathons for a while only helps me to feel better about the decision I made. -Of course, I’m also happy for you that you made a good and solid decision about your running that will allow you to keep running happy! Happy running is what got us all out there in the first place and I hate it when I see runners not happy about running – the very thing that makes them most happy.
    Happy running!

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