i’m not running NYC…and hitting the reset button

I guess I should take a break from the Africa talk and actually talk about running for a moment or two…

This appears to have been the year of, “Hey!  I signed up to run ______, and I have really big, awesome goals for it….but…wait….now I’m not running at all.”  Newsflash:  Things haven’t changed.  It hurt so much to finally admit that I wasn’t going to run Boston this year.  It upsetting because I had a big goal to run Boston with Lauren and rip apart our PRs.  (She didn’t run either…thanks, injuries.)

From start to finish on my back pain, it took about six months before I was finally ready to run like a normal person again.  The only problem is…running what most people think is normal and what I think is normal are two very different things.  So I ran what was normal for me and did the San Francisco Half Marathon…when I probably should have been running maybe three miles or something.  Or more like ten minutes.  Trust me, I know these things…but I was just so frustrated that I decided to try to run.  It ended up working out, but I know it could have gone horribly.

The problem with races these days is that for many of them, you have to sign up months upon months in advance.  Way before you’d even think about starting to train for them, and possibly while you’re still training for a completely different race.  So earlier this year, I signed up for the NYC Marathon, convinced that I’d be ready to go for training by the time it actually rolled around.  Newsflash:  I wasn’t.  I would have been starting from scratch and hoping for the best.  Even with that, it would have been a scramble to become marathon ready in fourteen weeks.

In marathon terms, with absolutely no base, that’s not a lot of time.  I knew this.  In the back of my mind, I knew I wouldn’t be running NYC this year.  Or any marathons this year, as a matter of fact.  One of the reasons why I had been putting off heading Africa for so long is that I’m always in some sort of training, and taking out three weeks from training isn’t the greatest idea.  When I realized that I wouldn’t be in marathon race shape this year, I went ahead and booked the trip to Africa and didn’t even bother packing my running shoes.

P1040762 Elephants > Running

Also, I needed a little bit of a reset button.  I never blogged about it, but the week before I left for Africa, I ran fifteen miles.  On a really, hot humid day.  I completed it fine with a solid pace, but I was trashed.  Abbe invited me out for drinks, to which I said something like, “I’m going to take a nap first…” then I fell asleep at 6pm and woke up at 3:30am.  NOT GOOD, SUSAN.  I was exhausted from that run.  My legs weren’t particularly happy.

Just because I theoretically can run that far, doesn’t mean that I should.  So Africa was a bit of a reset button for myself.  Where was I going with this post?  Oh yeah, I’m not running the NYC marathon this year.  Shocker, I know.  I’m sure no one here is surprised.  The NYC Marathon is one of my favorite days of the year here (I read this pump-up post from last year a bit too often…), and I would love to be running it…but I know it’s not a good idea.  Plus, since I’ve been out from training and they changed the guaranteed entry times for next year, I don’t have a guaranteed entry for next year.  Even more reason to defer.  So I did.

So basically, I’m REALLY excited to cheer for all of you.  Abbe and I (and others…) will be at mile 23.5 along Fifth Ave, ready to take those awesome “Okay, this really hurts now” pictures of all of you.  This shirt may also make an appearance:

Bostn Marathon 2012 (38) Hopefully it’ll be cooler than Boston was…

and speaking of boston…


Yep, I registered for 2013.  Might as well go back to the scene of the crime, hm?  My other highly considered option was Eugene, but heaven forbid I get injured again, I wouldn’t be out a plane ticket if I couldn’t run.  Plus, Marathon Monday is definitely one of my favorite days, and I have yet to run it not injured.  If I get injured again, then I’ll call it quits on Boston.  But for now, I get to see Amy again and take a trip out of Hopkinton.  My favorite running nurse is also in, so that’s a plus.  And speedy friends from across the country.

So what’s the plan?  What about that reset button?  Basically, I’m starting from scratch.  I have about ten weeks to build a base for a sixteen week training program.  I haven’t started from scratch in a long, long time…when I had IT band issues a few years ago, swimming and biking were options that I utilized, unlike with my back when I couldn’t really do anything.  So we’re going back to basics.  Kicking it back to some low mileage and building up from there.  Hal Higdon has been nice to me in the past, so I’m going to be basing my base training more or less on the Novice marathon training program.  Instead of cross training, I’ll do a short run.  Maybe some strength training thrown in on those shorter days?  (I’m horrible at sticking to strength training, hopefully this time around it’ll stick…)

I used Hal for my first marathon, Marine Corps 2006…taking it back. 
Thanks to Sara for the picture!
(Yes, I ran in a cotton shirt, ha)

This will get me up to about 35-40-ish miles in time for marathon training to start.  All of these miles will be slow.  I know I can run fast (see: Hood to Coast 2012), but I don’t need to run fast now, I need to run fast in April.  Even then, I might not be in PR shape, but I feel like I can at least be in solid racing shape.

I’ve been doing some shorter runs ever since I got back from Africa, and while I would love to say they feel awesome and leave me feeling ready to go…they don’t.  Three miles has always been more of a warm up for me.  (I also think I came down with some sort of Africa’s revenge and/or the effects of a trans-Atlantic flight because I have more or less been sleeping for 48 hours straight…and unable to sit upright…and unable to eat, it’s been fun.)  So maybe it’s the sickness or the complete lack of training that makes me feel like three miles is a marathon.

I’m excited to be a beginner again because every milestone will be something new again…and honestly, I can’t remember what it’s like to start from scratch, to be a beginner runner.  I’m lucky in that I have years of knowledge tucked in my back pocket, and that hopefully my legs will quickly remember how to run again.  But mostly, I’m excited to get back to the point where 7:30’s feel easy and 6:20 is mile repeat pace.  And that sub-3:10 marathon?  It will be mine.  More or less, I’m excited to be doing more running talk and much, much less “my back hurts and I don’t know what’s wrong” talk.  Thanks to everyone who stuck with me through injury, I promise we’ll be back to regularly scheduled running talk after this Africa business is over.

So tell me…do I get to cheer for you in NYC?  Let me know if you’re running?  Will I see you in Boston??

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  1. says

    A wise decision! And one I’m sure most people would have a very difficult time making. I’m sure running NYC is fun, but the two years I was there to cheer for it I had a blast! And like you said, it’ll be fun experiencing all those milestones again. Good luck!

  2. says

    Remember to be patient with your beginner self :) It is so easy to make comparisons. You are really a smart lady and you will definitely be running fast in the spring :)

  3. says

    Definitely a good decision. This has been a rough year but you’ll be a better runner because of it.

    I love that you got to go to Africa because of this injury. You’ll always have that and never regret it!!

    I also love any chance at feeling like a “beginner” again. I’m feeling that way now after having a baby. It’s neat to celebrate the milestones all over again- distance and speed alike. I get super pumped when I do things that were easy for me before. I’m rediscovering my love of running. :) I hope it’s like that for you too.

    Finally, yayyyy Boston!!!!

  4. says

    Wise decision

    I only hope you’ll be able to snap a most beautiful 23.5 mile picture of me. I’m sure I will look really good, ready for cover of magazine, ready for my close up.

  5. says

    The end of this post reveals the attitude and mentality that will get you up to those 35-40 mile weeks – appreciating the beginner’s mindset and enjoying the milestones (literally)! It’s mentally draining to accept that you’re not physically where you want to be. But, you’re being smart and you know that – now it’s just down to starting again with step 1. :)

    One of these days I’ll be making the trek up to NYC for THE marathon spectating (no real desire to run it…yet). I think it’d be amazing to see the city all out to support the runners!

  6. says

    Yes you will see me because you gals are using my new apartment as a cheering home base! Dont mess it up or else!
    Im so over Boston after last year.
    You will do great! Starting from scratch will make you better. I think Ive shared this quote with you before…
    “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.+ – TS Eliot

  7. says

    I am sure this was a really tough decision, but in the end you know your body and you made the best decision for you. You will be back to “yourself” and ready to go after sub-3:10 at Boston! I am looking forward to cheering with you and hanging out more at NYC!

  8. says

    Definitely a tough decision, I’m sure! But, you seem so positive about it and I am so happy for you to be running again. You will appreciate every step and every run that much more. I will DEFINITELY be looking for you on 5th ave! I just read your “ain’t nothing as sweet as the sound of a crowd” post and it got me so excited!!

    This is my 1st New York and I have no idea what to expect, but I am pumped and I really hope I get to see you out there cheering your face off!

    You will be amazing in Boston and I’m hoping I can come cheer for you! :)

  9. maura says

    well, yes of course i’ll be spectating in boston.
    i can’t wait.

    it’s going to be an incredible journey, and i’m excited for you.

    ps. baker, don’t be over boston! it was an outlier of a year… come back! or at least come cheer! racer 5!

  10. says


    So glad that we’ll be running Boston together :) I’ve been struggling with a hip issue for the last 2 months so I am taking it easy (well, except for last weekend at the runner’s world festival, but who couldn’t get all excited and over-run when Bart Yasso and Shalane are your new running BFFs) so that I can be nice and healthy in December when I start training for Boston!!

  11. says

    Great post, smart decision. I had to make the same decision earlier this summer about the NYCM. I registered way back in the spring when I assumed my injury would be a “quick fix” (ha, what was I thinking?) – but I’m excited for 2013 and I’ve definitely been trying to hit the reset button and start from scratch when it comes to running.
    Happy to hear you’re going to be running Boston this year! Congrats!

  12. Don says

    Glad you had such a great trip, good job representing the Cubs.

    I’m doing NY next week. Broke a toe awhile back and have not run in about 5 weeks, so no great speed records, but planning to absorb the experience of running NYC.

    Have a great race in Boston.

  13. Kelly says

    Excellent decision and I am so excited you are running again :) I will be in Boston to cheer you on without a doubt. Very excited to see you around mile 23.5, perfect spot to distract from the hurt, haha. Also I am going to email you about plans before I forget, neighbor!

  14. says

    Great blog! I am also an NYC-based runner, running Boston and starting from scratch after a hip stress fracture sidelined me. It’s hard to start all over again! Look forward to following your blog and progress!

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