Thursday, February 5, 2009

Half The Race, Twice the Effort

Today is a strange day and one in which I am grateful for the sounding board that is this blog. As most know, I just did my first full marathon and while I was not overjoyed with the finishing time,the experience was unforgettable. However, I am determined to do more marathons and get a much more respectable time. That said, I have some limitations. Ones that I have chosen to ignore for a while but I think I must acknowledge and confront.

First, the weather. No surprise here but I HATE winter. More importantly, I hate cold temperatures. Truth be told, I live in Southern Ontario where we have it much better than other parts of Canada or than our American friends in the northern states. However, I still hate wearing 8 layers of clothes and sliding on ice and getting frost bitten cheeks. This winter has been particularly daunting and I have run more on a treadmill or indoor track than I have outdoors for the past three weeks. This makes me a little nervous!

Secondly, I have small children and a full time job as well as a husband that travels half the month. Again, I fully acknowledge that there are many, many women out there that have these same things and manage Boston level runs and superior accomplishments. I worship these women. Plus I imagine that they all look like this hardbody in the picture...

This leads me to my thought...perhaps I should put more focus on the half marathon and really striving for an excellent time than being so determined to to get a great time in the full marathon? Is that selling myself short? Am I giving up? That is not to say that I never want to do another marathon because I do. I am thinking that I would like to do several 1/2 marathons with some hard core training and specific goals and perhaps try two or three marathons in a year (preferably in the fall when I have a snow/ice free training period).
I have been doing a lot of reading lately on the half marathon and it has quickly become a huge event in recent years. I am sure there are a number of reasons but for many, it is simply more attainable. The distance is..well...half as much so it seems logical that more people could acheive it. The marathon is a wonderful experience, and one I don't want to miss out on a second time but the mileage and training structure is such that it takes up more of my time than I can spare on a regular basis. At least if I want to do it properly.

That is another fair point, I can continue to train for the full marathons but I may end up acheiving under my standards because I simply do not have the same amout of time to do everything in my life (Effectively). My children are very proud of me as a runner but I am often met with sad faces when I head out the door to run because they would rather play Checkers or even the popular, "Help Mommy Sort the Laundry" game. :) God knows my bathrooms would struggle to pass a "white glove" test.

I know myself and doing the marathon for the second time means that I MUST acheive some kind of respectable showing (for my standards). In May, I am registered for the Ottawa marathon but I am strongly considering changing to the Half Marathon and really focusing on a sub 1:55 result. Then I will do more 1/2 marathons as well as a few trail races followed by the full Marathon in Barbados with the Joints in Motion (and Marci!) in December. Of course then my husband and I are participating in the Disney event (his first 1/2 marathon) and I would like to do the Goofy. That would mean my total marathons for 2009 would be 2 but my half marathons would be more like 6 or 7 plus trail runs. Will I get the same satisfaction from that now that I have done a marathon?

Thanks for the thoughts. Wow I love having a blog. :)

32 comments:

Melanie said...

while i've yet to do a marathon, and my post today talks about "doubling a HM", it's definitely time consuming. You do have a lot on your plate with young children, work, traveling hubby, etc. So maybe doing halfs and continuing your solid base are a good thing, and when the time is right, you will do your full. if you're feeling it to be a chore, at some point it may not be as enjoyable. just my $0.02

girlrunningaround said...

You're definitely not selling yourself short by doing the half. Especially if you can train whole heartedly and have the time to do it.

The fact that you feel like you're selling yourself short by running a half amazes me--when I run my first half next month I'm going to strut around like the queen of the world!

Run Mommy said...

Don't get me wrong - the 1/2 marathon is very exciting! The first time I did a 1/2 I was overjoyed! The only thing that makes me concerned is that I did not accomplish what I had hoped in the full marathon so I wonder if I will.

Nikki said...

I'd love to do a full one day, but so far have only completed halfs. The HM is widely popular event because it is still a huge challenge, but more attainable for many schedule-wise. You wouldn't be selling yourself short. It is still a challenge to get speedier and then have it all come to plan on race day. But let me tell you, running a HM where you beat your PB, it's a feeling like none other. And I don't think it's so much tied to the distance, I think it's just the feeling of accomplishment. I think your plan is an excellent one.

Denise said...

I was just thinking about the half after I ran my third one on Sunday. It's such a great race and it's not easy. To improve my time on the half would make me so happy. And while training for the half, you can still have a life!!

RunningLaur said...

Go for the half. You'll still be able to maintain your running life. If you feel that longing for the full afterwards, there will be plenty time of to do a full a little later.

Even 'just doing 6 or 7 halfs' is quite an accomplishment!

aron said...

i dont think you would be selling yourself short at all. the half is such a great distance (my fav actually) and yet it doesnt overtake your life like a marathon can. i think halves are still an amazing accomplishment and you still have a full or 2 on the schedule anyways! being able to train in better conditions and being able to balance your life will be much more rewarding i think. good luck, its a tough choice i am sure but you know what is best for you :)

Heather said...

I think the half is a great distance - far enough to be an accomplishment, but not so far that you have to sell your soul to train for it. I've had the same thoughts myself.

Run Mommy said...

Once again Heather's comment made me giggle...I do look forward to your comments! :)

Janice {Run Far} said...

I love love love the marathon, but the half is just challenging enough and you are finished quicker. I love it too.

Runner Leana said...

Oh wow...so many thoughts...

Training for a marathon - it is a fact that you spend a lot more time doing it. You need to be out longer on the weekends for your long run. That being said I think it is so true that your goal in your first marathon should be too finish. After that, any subsequent marathons can have a time goal. And you can train for a marathon and train to get speedier. I felt like I needed to prove something after finishing the Disney marathon last year, which was why I ran the Quebec full in August and then the Disney full this January. So I definitely understand wanting to better your first marathon time!

As for halves...I love them. I'd love stay in a shape so that I could do a half marathon at the drop of a hat. They require less time on the road for training, so less time away from your family. And deciding to focus on running a really good half is not selling yourself short.

I won't tell you which way to focus...but ultimately if your head isn't into training for a full in May then definitely drop back. You'll still have Barbados in December.

My two cents on the Goofy though..? Just run it to run it...don't set a goal on either race. It is amazing...I trained with back to back runs and it still kicked my behind. If you do want to run Goofy it is 75% full already. Expect it to sell out within a couple of weeks.

Kim said...

You do what you WANT to do! There is nothing wrong with running half marathons.

Just remember, you'll still need to be getting out there several days a week to run-whether it's for a HM or FM.

I think...as long as you have a goal and are looking foward to something-it's all good!

Marlene said...

I love the half marathon... there's still a lot of pride and glory, but it doesn't take nearly as much out of you. Training for a marathon is a huge commitment and honestly, I don't know how you moms manage to juggle it all.

Follow your heart... you don't need to run several marathons each year or qualify for Boston to be an accomplished runner.

RunToFinish said...

I say you have to figure out what is going to make you happiest and fill your tank... do you need the marathon goal to fill your personal goals or would becoming really great at the 1/2 make you feel like a rockstar?

personally I have fallen in love with the 1/2 because I can continue to improve and I can always make time for it.

Weather is tough and if I could solve it for me I'd have better ideas. the only thing I can think of for the kids is finding a track where you can run and they can play? So maybe they come with you aon speed days and they play or cheer and start to become a little more involved...who knows I'm rambling now. :)but my word verification is "bablegod" so I'm a babbling god

teacherwoman said...

I haven't done a marathon yet either, and I congrats you for doing so. You are busy with little ones and being a wife and all.

I don't think you are selling yourself short by doing the half. I would consider it training smart. Take your time, and then get back into marathon training when you do have more time!

Just my two cents... take it or leave. :)

Beth said...

I would agree with the others. Who are you running the marathon for? Would it be for a personal accomplishment or b/c you think you "should"? A half is a huge accomplishment, especially one that is sub two hours. Doing halfs might be a better fit for your lifestyle now? I have considered doing the same.

joyRuN said...

The time commitment to a full marathon is very significant, especially given all the time constraints.

But the half ain't nothing to sneeze at either, especially if you have specific time goals that you want to reach. So you are NOT selling yourself short.

I've learned to LOVE the half. Personally, I'm signed up for another full & just want to finish feeling good. I've saved my time goals for the half.

MCM Mama said...

Jumping on the bandwagon...

I say the half is the way to go. I don't work full-time, but do have two young children, one of which is only in school one morning a week. Training for the marathon really affected our family life and took away pretty much every other fun thing I do. Training for the half fits much more easily into a "mom" life. I fully intend to do another marathon - it just has to wait until the kids are older.

Good luck with your decision!

Velma said...

This is a hard one. Winter sucks, and I think you may be more bummed out with the weather etc. then the distance. I am in your same boat - two kids - work - travelling hubby. By the time I get to Thursday, I am dead tired, and I don't want to do the long runs with marathon training. But, once I get out there, I really like the extra hours to myself (and extra endurance etc) that marathoning gives me.

Of course, this is your decision. Just remember that the marathon is a long way away and you have a long time to train :) Good luck!

Rookie on the Run said...

Isn't running pretty much about challenging and competing against yourself? It seems like you have that mindset no matter which distance you choose. Doing another full marathon and finishing in a better time is admirable but focusing on some half-marathons and really nailing them is just as admirable. I personally like the idea of being able to concentrate on some good HMs... especially considering how much training goes into a full marathon. No matter what you choose to do, I'm sure you will do great!

Sarah said...

Hi! I've done both, and just in my own opinion after I ran a full and then completed a half it was almost a let down. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to get a nice PR in the half, but on the flip side I was insanely jealous of those marathoners doing the whole. I don't know, I'm weird. It's weird going back down to a half. Anyway, just my thoughts.

Have a great day!

BeachRunner said...

You are a marathoner, but I say go for the Half, relax, have fun, and ROCK IT!

milebymile said...

Wow, another mom feeling just like I do, just as I round the corner on marathon training and am within the sight of taper! Training for my first has really taken a toll on my schedule, psyche, and family life.

I'm looking forward to running the 26.2, don't get me wrong. But going back to 30-40 miles per week and then still getting to race the half is what I plan to do after I recover from this one.

And hey, a year spent racing and improving at 13.1 doesn't mean we can't ratchet back up to 26.2 when our hearts and legs say "Let's go!"

Carly said...

I am in a very similar life situation as you and I vote for doing the half marathon. I don't think for a minute that you are selling yourself short. It is still is a big race of several miles to conquer.

Nicole said...

I've done three marathons and never two in one year. I think they are fun, but a lot of work and I don't have kids!
I hope to do HM in the future, but I don't even have the time to train for that. I think even training for a 5k is respectable. So, do what you can and don't beat yourself up over any decision. You have a life time to run.

tfh said...

Actually, if your biggest goal is simply to be able to train to perform at your best at that event, I think ANY race distance is a worthy adversary. I've never run a marathon but I know I feel more victorious after running a 10k or 12k with a good (for me) time than struggling through a 1/2 marathon. Do what will make you feel good about your running (and your role as a mom-- but when it comes to priorities, I say a squeaky clean bathroom is pretty low on my list-- why waste time you could be spending w/ your family doing thankless chores?).

Missy said...

I've done halfs, marathons, half ironman, ironman, blah...I don't think ANYTHING is as good (mentally) as the first one (fill in the blank), just because it's the first one. It's new, it's exciting and it's a huge accomplishment. You are NOT selling yourself short for doing the half because...why? You've done a marathon and you'll do one again, maybe just not right now. You're already a 'marathoner' and you got nothin to prove - only to yourself.

Half is good, half is fun and work to make IT fast! Best of luck in your decision.

lindsay said...

i think you should do whatever distance you enjoy the most, without sacrificing time with your family and your love/enjoyment of running! i do not doubt that you could hack away at your half-pr and still run the occasional marathon. you can set just as big of goals for the half as you have for the full. who knows, next year you might be craving weekly-20 milers:)

Oz Runner said...

great post...if I were you, I'd opt for the half.....marathon training takes up so much more time, and it sounds like you are plenty busy in life...plus, a full marathon puts a lot more stress and pounding on the body...there is nothing wrong with not running a marathon...many runners never run one...many just stick to enjoying regular runs, staying healthy, and doing a race now and then...

Laurel said...

Half marathons are the best. You can do as many as you want and not kill your body and you're done in time to enjoy the rest of the day. Plus, you can really race them and not just try to finish, like in a marathon.

I love marathons but they are SO time consuming. I often think that once I have kids, I may have to give it up for a bit. I don't know how you mommies do it.

Marci said...

My solution to you is to run both. Limit the number of marathons to 1-2 per year, but run many marathons. That said, both distances are great and I don't think you are selling yourself short if you prefer the half!

RunnerMom said...

I'm amazed that anyone who is a mom of small kids and works full time was able to train for a marathon! If I worked outside the home, I don't know that I'd even be running 10K's anymore! You should be so proud of that. But if training for half marathons fits better into your life right now, causes you less stress, and lets you enjoy running more, I say do it! Improving your half-marathon time will only help you reach your marathon goal time whenever the time is right.

I know that in a couple of months, I'll be wrestling with some of the same post-marathon feelings. I probably will have a slower time than I hope for, I'll try to figure out if I want to do another one right away (or ever!), but I'll know I have to so I can get a better time. I think all these feelings are normal though!