Sunday, February 15, 2009

always starting over: running (part 4)

When I teach The Great Gatsby I always reach a point in the novel when I want to scream at Gatsby: Give it up! Move on! Daisy isn't going to dump Tom. She hasn't spent the last five years waiting around for you to show up again! Jay, just find yourself a nice girl from a good family and adore her. But before I reach that point, I am taken by the daring of his pursuit - a seemingly impossible dream made almost.

This year I asked my seniors to think of a dream they have. Something big, maybe too big. A gaudy, wild dream. An unlikely dream. And then I told them mine: sometimes when I run, I pretend I'm an Olympian. While it isn't anything I really want (oh, that's just a nice way of saying I lack the natural talent and necessary drive), I love the dream. What a fun dream to entertain. The last few miles of many runs it has been me and the sports commentators: Who is this Sarah Marslender? Would you look at that stride, she has a real shot at closing the gap and if Paula and Deena don't take note and pick it up...

Even in my daydreams, I wouldn't win. Silver and bronze are nice medals too. But just imagining me, an Olympian - that kicked enough energy to finish my miles.

But now I'm reassessing my running goals realistically. A year ago, I was in a spot to train aggressively for a June marathon. I wanted to push my body again, having established a comfortable daily pace of 8:00 - 8:30 and nudging my weekend long runs with a Colombian running group to 7:15 - 7:30s. So I thought: maybe a 3:15 full? Maybe, please?

I felt good.

And then I felt pregnant - which also felt good, except that mangoes made me gag. And my husband ate a lot of mangoes.

My running changed with my pregnancy. Ultimately, I think slowing down spared me temptation to charge ahead, overburden my body with monster training and aggravate my muscle fascia defect.

So here I am again, starting over.

And I need to set new running goals that I have a chance at chasing. My old time goals: a sub 1:30 half marathon (my best was the 2006 GB half and I think that was a 1:33) with the wild fantasy of landing thirty seconds either side of 1:25. And a sub 3:15 full. Timewise, I don't know what my new running goals should be. The 1:30 half is probably still reasonable for me but I need a chance to find out how fast I can be while avoiding injury. I need to learn how to train smart.

That in itself is a worthy goal.

Another running goal I've had for a few years is to run a trail marathon. It just sounds like fun. Slower than a road race, quieter too. I think I'd enjoy it. Perhaps that is what I need to look for this summer. I'd also like to run Boston on a qualifying time. I qualified in my second (and last, so far) marathon five years ago (yikes) and think I can do it again. And after reading about ultras, I'd like to try one.

So perhaps now is not the time to track time. Perhaps now is the time to just enjoy running and try a few different races, avoid the temptation to slaughter myself for a few seconds faster. Let me see what my body can do. Today I ran ten miles at 8:20. It felt good. I'd wanted to be running straight 8s by this point postpregnancy. Calculate that: I would've showered maybe five minutes sooner. Can I live with five minutes? Sure. I do think I still have some fast races in me, once I learn how to train well, but right now I'm not counting time as the strict measurement of the success of my running. My joy counts more and running does bring me joy.

Especially when I stand on the Olympic podium with a bronze medal around my neck.


Sergio en Colombia said...

yes! part IV por fin!

DC Running Mama said...

Sounds like we are having the same quandry about slaughtering ourselves for a few minutes. Sometimes I really do think about how cool it would be if I was faster so that I could get home sooner/get more done! Good luck with the sub 1:30 half. I think that will be my goal, too, but I don't know if my hammy will allow me to train as needed.