Seems funny writing this right now, as I have been fighting this question from everyone who has asked me over the last few weeks.
I wanted to enjoy my celebration of the last month.
It was arguably the biggest running month of my life, definitely a turnaround moment, the point where I truly stepped up to the next level that I have been striving to reach for years.
I am someone who likes to stop and celebrate those moments, to relish them (and relish it I did, with lots of sugar!), as I realize that after so many special moments in my running career, there will likely be some plateauing, and some low moments coming my way.
We all have ups and downs, we know that, and by keeping our perspective in check, we can limit the damage those do to our confidence, but our sport is full of ups and downs and in ways we can never see coming.
Okay, so I ran for Great Britain in the World Half marathon championships, and I shaved another 4 minutes off my time in the marathon to put me down to a time that I am definitely proud of, but of course, as runners, we want more.
We want to see just how much further we can go, and we have no longer crossed the finish line before we are already wondering what the next goal could be.
Over the last few weeks, I have had this question more than I expected.
So many people have asked me what is next, and every time they asked, I fought it off; let me enjoy my time off first, then I will think about it.
And I did.
I truly needed this break, more than I have in a long time, and it felt good to be a “normal person” for a few weeks. To not worry about having to go to bed or I will end up injured, to use those extra hours in a day for other activities I enjoy, and to relive the last month, appreciating all those hours of hard work coming together for a big reward.
But those thoughts of what is next start to creep in, especially when people ask you a lot.
One thing I did know was that I wanted to do something new.
As fantastic of an event as Chicago marathon is, as much as I want to redeem myself in Philadelphia, I was not feeling another repeat marathon.
In my eyes, you only get a certain number of marathons, and I do not want to just do the same ones over and over, I want to explore the world and see what other races I could do.
My initial reaction was to go to a destination race; New York or California International sprung to mind. That way I could just enjoy the lack of pressure associated with doing one of these; check another one off my bucket list.
New York was immediately shot down. Steve is not a fan!
Someday, yes, but New York really beats you up, BAD, and after we talked, we agreed it would be better to save that for a time when my body is more used to marathons, sometime in the future.
Then a few days later, Berlin and Frankfurt were added to the list.
Both destination races, both fast and flat, and my grandma was born in Germany, and I have always wanted to go there, so that would be a great opportunity.
I talked to mentor and friend, Nick Anderson, who encouraged me to move towards Frankfurt, and even shocked me with how fast he thought I could run over the next few years.
I knew I wanted to do a fall marathon, but I was not expecting to be able to make much of a jump, but Nick knows his stuff, and he has known me since I was 14, so I trust his judgement.
Over the past week or so, Steve and I narrowed it down to two; Chicago and California International.
I know I said earlier that I did not want to do Chicago, but the temptation was definitely there, especially as my training partner Sarah is racing it, and I know it is a fast course…..and of course the temptation to redeem myself was strong.
But….we had been heavily leaning towards California International and my heart was telling me this was the one, but I just could not get myself to commit to it, I was not ready to rule out Chicago.
But this Friday, fate decided to get involved, and my decision was made for me.
One of my best friends, Frances, selected her wedding date to marry her lovely fiancé Jared. I took this as a sign that I am not ready to go back to Chicago just yet, and California International is the one for me.
So why Cal International?
- My intuition said so. This is the most important one, and you know I am all about following your heart.
- It is fast, slightly downhill, and usually has good weather.
- It allows me to have a full summer racing season to get my speed back, followed by a week off, and then a full build up of marathon training.
- Frances wedding is the week before Chicago- which would mean I would be FREAKING OUT and unable to enjoy it because I would be worrying about injuring myself (especially after I tweaked my knee around the time of my sisters wedding!).
- A piece of my heart is still in California from when I lived there for 8 months in 2006, and I take any opportunity I can to go back.
- It is a brand new marathon for me to try 🙂
After this fall marathon, I do intend on taking a step away from marathons for another year.
I am entertaining the idea of trying to find some pacing opportunities over the next few years, I have always wanted to, and this may be a good time to give it a go.
Okay, so I have told you what is going on in the fall, but what about now?
Well…..if you did not see my Instagram, Sarah and I actually jumped in a local 5k this weekend. We initially decided to do it as there was $750 reward for the winner of the race (and prizes for 2nd and 3rd), but we had a feeling that was enough prize money where some Kenyan runners may show up (and they did), so we decided to just have fun with it, keeping one another accountable when our egos got the better of us.
We needed to be safe after both taking 2-3 weeks totally off all exercise, and only having run for 5-6 days.
I have to say though, it was tough, but not in the traditional sense, I actually felt very controlled, but it was tough for my ego. I wanted to really go for it to see what we could do, but we had to stay smart, so we stayed comfortable.
It was SO much fun, and actually really nice to enjoy a race, and chat the whole way around. My heart rate stayed below 150 the whole time, so I know I made the right choice and I was amazed that we ran as fast as we did for the effort exerted.
Guess it just goes to show that taking time off does not lose as much fitness as we think!
Oh, and we held hands as we crossed the finish line…..but we haven’t managed to track down a photo yet!
This does get me excited for this summer though, especially with my wonderful sponsors Saucony, EnduroPacks, Inside Tracker, Sizzlefish, Body Health, Nuttzo, and Kentucky Kombucha and of course, Team Ice Cream to help me along my way!
Speaking of ice cream….how about homemade ice cream at 9:30am on a Saturday morning?
Don’t mind if I do 🙂
So what are my summer plans?
I have always wanted to do Peachtree, and this would be a good time to give it a go as it is a fantastic event……..but the temptation of just staying home and doing this local race is also very strong!
I am excited to do some of the bigger races this summer to check some off my bucket list, and enjoy the experience of these races as they are so well-organized and a lot of fun (so I have heard!).
The priority this summer though, is not to focus on a time or a place in these races.
I am focusing on getting my speed back before I go into the fall marathon segment. Yep, that means more track workouts, more quick turnover stuff, and more short, high intensity workouts.
Goodbye 9 mile tempos! 😉
As much as I did not enjoy those faster sessions, and honestly, I questioned Steve when he told me I had to do a speed segment, but clearly it works, and it is something we intend on incorporating often.
I also recommend that you give this a try, seriously. It does not matter what level you are, a speed segment could make all the difference for you in your fall marathon.
Now comes the real test; can I keep my relaxed, calm, letting go of control attitude going?
Let the path unfold before you.
What races do you have planned this summer?