February 24, 2011

My Marathon Dilemma!

This Sunday is the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth, TX. I've been training for 3-4 months, making my 2nd attempt at running this race. The first attempt - 2 years ago - was sidetracked by sickness and lots of travel. My training this go-round was going great, until..... 4 weeks ago I went out for my 16 mile run. Things felt great! My lungs felt good, my stride was smooth, and I was inspired and motivated. But somewhere around mile 12 my lower back started to tighten up. I tried to walk it out. That didn't work. I got off the sidewalk, laid in the grass, and tried to stretch it out. That didn't work. For the remaining 4 miles I walked-jogged-stretched-walked-jogged-got really mad-stretched. Repeat. It was frustrating. I went straight to the chiropractor that afternoon. His first question: "Did you get new shoes?" [LIGHTBULB MOMENT]

Just 5 days earlier I had gotten new running shoes. Without going into all the details, if you buy the wrong running shoes - shoes that don't fit your feet or work with your stride or gate properly - they can mess you up! Your back, your hips, your knees. PAIN! So I took them back and got some shoes that I knew were tried and true for me. But I also decided to finish out my training (and the race) in my old shoes. (They still have plenty of life in them!) At that point I figured I would rest my legs and back for a few days, work my way back into training, and be good-to-go. Then 2 weeks ago I went out for my 18-miler. I only made it 9 miles. My lower back got tighter than Joan Rivers face. More PAIN! More frustration! More therapy at the chiropractor. And along with it, a decision to make. Can I seriously run this race?

I made a decision a couple of days later that I probably needed to run the 1/2 Marathon instead. I knew I could run that race, possibly post a good time, and avoid the frustration of more back pain. I would go to the Solutions Desk at the Packet Pickup Event and just change my registration. Decision made. And then a friend of mine screwed it all up. He said, "Why don't you just run the full? You've paid for it. If you get 16-18 miles and have to stop, you can call someone to come get you. Why not just try it?" WHY NOT JUST TRY IT? Why not give it a shot? WHY?! The last time I ran the Cowtown - and had to run the 1/2 - I finished and immediately thought, "Man! I should have run the whole thing!" WHY NOT JUST TRY IT? And this is my dilemma.

Here are the reasons why I would NOT run the full Marathon:
  • PRIDE - If I have to quit, I'll be really hacked off!
  • MORE PRIDE - What if my time isn't as good as my other races?
  • UNCERTAINTY - I really don't know what the heck is going on with my back.
  • Did I mention PRIDE?
Here are some reasons why I SHOULD run the full Marathon:
  • I already paid for it (AND) it would cost $20 to switch to run the 1/2
  • There's a GREAT possibility that I can actually finish this race. I've run 3 marathons already!
  • I've had a LOT of therapy, rest & massage in the last 2 weeks.
  • If I have to stop - if I have to quit - that's OK. This is no longer a bucket list issue for me.
  • Failure sucks, but REGRET is much worse than failure!
HELP! This decision has not been made. Quite frankly, I don't have to decide until Saturday. What do you think? What should I do? Love to hear your thoughts, objective opinions, and words of encouragement. 

1/2 or Full? That is the question!


Charles said...

Run half of the full for time, then chill and encourage others - walk/run the other half... Just have fun. If the pain becomes unbearable have the medics sag you in.

Aubrie said...

I have thought about switching to the half too, not because of pain (besides shin splints) but because I know I love the half and could get a good time. BUT my thoughts kind of go along with Charles' thoughts...I would do the full and if you have to walk, you have to walk. This way, if you feel great you can run the entire thing. My first half I hurt my hip and my doctor told me not to run, but I did it anyway and felt fine. You never know! Just don't push it if you start to hurt!

Keith said...

I'll answer with a question.
Do you love to run? Or do you love to finish?

If you love to run, go for the full.
If you love to finish, take the half.

No shame in either. The main difference I see is why you are running in the first place.

Brian Mayfield said...

Wow! GREAT words of encouragement. Never even thought about it from that perspective, Charles. Thanks guys. LOTS to think about!

Kelly said...

Run the full, Brian. Three of the four reasons you gave for not running the full were pride! And I think you hit the nail on the head: regret is worse than failure. I think it would bother you more to cross the line of the half still feeling pretty good and think, "man, I should have run the full." I think you would be more upset with yourself for not pushing yourself and trying the full. Just my opinion.

Ultimitely, however, I agree with Keith. It comes down to whether you love to run or love to finish. Will you still be happy you ran if you don't finish? If not, then run the half. As he said, there's no shame in either. I vote for the full though. :-)

Mark said...

It is better to shoot for excelence and with a chance that you might not quite achieve it than settle for a guarantee of mediocrity.

Mark said...

And that comment comes from someone who doesn't even like to drive 26 miles.

ascarleton said...

do the full! the half is a pansy race for a marathoner!!

Brian Mayfield said...

I will NOT have a Carleton calling me a pansy! Now I have to run the full!

cass499 said...

Don't push yourself to hard,you w.on't get any good results it just only hurt you even more.

Anonymous said...

If you don't want to waste your $20 and if you think you can make it the full marathon then I would say do it. But personally, I would recommend doing the half. It will probably provide for a much better experience. On my first race back from a year off I put myself into the slower pace heat and I wouldn't go back and change it. Overall, just listen to your body.