Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I Got You Babe

I had to make a tough decision this week about my racing schedule. I have been training for the Eugene Marathon now for months and am as fit as I have ever been heading into a marathon. I have conquered some major workouts and have been putting in the highest mileage since last fall. In my last post, I mentioned that my health issues had cropped up again and that I was taking some new medication to try to bring things under control. As luck would have it, the new medication worked for its intended purpose, though I had to up the dosage to get it to work. However, the side effects from the meds were pretty dramatic. Several days last week, I experienced severe GI distress for hours so terrible that I was unable to eat or even stand. I understand this to be a common side effect of the medication, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

As I missed a couple of days of training (and work!) I realized that I just wasn't going to be able to rally from this one. I could feel in my easy running that my blood levels had dropped again (confirmed yesterday with hemoglobin of 11.5 and hematocrit of 35). It feels like I'm running at altitude or through molasses. The easiest efforts feel harder than they should. I've had success at getting my blood levels to recover quickly, but my training suffers until they improve. So, I conferred with friends and coaches and decided that I should let Eugene go.

One of the things that really struck me in my conversations about this was the distinction between just running another marathon and trying to achieve a gigantic goal. I have no doubt that, if my blood levels did rally in the next couple of weeks, I would have a decent race in Eugene. I'm sure I'm in sub-2:50 if not faster shape. I had to ask myself the question: what are you really wanting to do in Eugene? Do you just want to run a decent marathon or do you want to run your fastest marathon? 

We've all read stories of elite runners who overcame years of injury or sickness to come back and have spectacular races or seasons. What I am realizing is that you don't get to play the lead role in that story without making some really smart decisions about your training and racing. You have to decide what is most important and you have to go after that goal with the determination and drive of a predator. It is perfectly fine to race a bunch of races because you love the thrill of competition or racing, but that comes at a cost. You won't maximize your potential with that approach or if you do, you will pay later with a broken down body. I've seen it over and over. The people who achieve the big goals make sacrifices and smart decisions along the way that move them closer to their goals. 

So, I did the calculations. If I ran Eugene and then took the 4 week recovery into account, I wouldn't be ready to start training for another fast marathon until September. I think my best chances for a fast marathon are in my own back yard at the Cal International Marathon. I would need to get started training for that in a few weeks.

So, my body decided not to cooperate this time around. As frustrating as this continues to be, I do know that my day will come and that there is a marathon PR or even an Olympic Trials qualifier in my future. I also know that if I don't work with my body and make smart decisions along the way, I won't reach my potential.

So, I am starting over again, getting back to some speed work and letting my body recover a bit before launching into another marathon training cycle. I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, waking up to Sonny and Cher over and over and over. But, I'll take that over the alternative any day. 

Keep your dreams alive people!                        



  1. Good decision Jaymee. Enjoy the speedwork/recovery cycle before the alarm rings for Groundhog Day.

    1. Thanks, Ewen. I know I made the right call. I do like the speedy stuff, so it is not a bad cycle to begin again.

  2. You should get a Nobel prize for Contributions to Internet Sanity for this decision and this post! For some reason, it is really hard to learn to listen to your body (at least, it seems to be a struggle for nearly every runner I know or read) and I wonder if that difficulty isn't somehow intertwined with the fact that it's actually quite a tough question to ask yourself what you really want or what your true dreams are. Much easier to just pigheadedly push your way through workouts and beat yourself up when you don't set a PR every two weeks - and the resulting lack of success makes an even better distraction from the big questions.

    Aaaaand that just made no sense. I hope you enjoy the down time and get healthy again!!

    btw, this post is an interesting contrast with the "ripples" post on your Voted Most Popular list (which I just clicked on for some reason).

    1. I agree that asking THE question itself is the biggest obstacle. Perhaps it makes us confront the fact that we have limits. Or, we just don't like having to decide. COnfidence in our decisions comes with experience more than anything, I believe.

      So funny that you point out the Ripples post. Makes no sense to me why that one is on the most popular list, but it is quite a contrast!

  3. You are one of the most sound mind and level-headed individuals I've come across. You know how to make difficult decisions and you're still a winner. Your positive outlook has helped me along too. Best to your recoveries!