My Slowest Marathon ever….

….yet one of my most momentous.

As a runner (or coach) have you ever been in the situation where you had to make a choice on how to run a race:

Do I run this race for me?  
Do I run this race with my friends?

Let me preface this blog by saying I really would love to get your comments below if you’ve been in this situation. I believe it’s a hard choice to make and I’d like to know how you’ve made your decisions in the past so we can learn from each other.

I originally signed up for the Pf Changs Rock N Roll Marathon to run it with a friend who was planning on doing her first marathon.  My plan was to run the Sedona Marathon on 2/1/14 so it would be another training run (along with my 50K on 2/22 now).  My friend realized she was not ready for it and decided to do the half instead (which I told her was a great call on her part, so long as she was making that choice consciously and would not be mad at herself for changing her plan).

In the mean time, I had 5 of my friends/students running their first marathon at this event.  So here I was faced with “dilemma” of what to do?  Do I run this race for me or do I run it with friends?   As I deliberated, here were the questions that ran through my head:

Q.  Why are you running this marathon?  Honestly, for me it was another training run.  It’s marathon #4 and since I’am working on 2 other distance events, my reason was to get a long run in at a race.  I try to plan it this way if it works with the training schedule. Even if I’m paying for this training run/race, I get a new t-shirt, a medal and race experience.

Q.  Do you care how fast you complete this marathon?  Speed is rarely a concern for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy pushing myself and beating my own personal records (PR) but sometimes it’s just not about speed but the experience. The Women’s Half marathon for example is usually my PR race for a half so that decision is always made to run it for myself.

Q. Do I care that the official records will show my marathon results and everyone else will know my speed?  Hell no….Again, there are times where this is just not relevant, especially as a coach.  And personally I’ve worked a lot on not caring what other people think 😉 (It’s very liberating…of course I value other people’s opinion but learning to detach from their opinion is another story…)

So as I pondered over this, one of my friends asked me if I would run the marathon with them.  I knew this was going to be my slowest group but also the group that “needed” me the most.  Based on the responses above that of course I would love to run with them as they complete their first marathon (a coach’s dream would be to cross the finish line with all their students but that can’t always be possible either).

So we start the race together and one of my friends starts having some serious pain in her hip.  The others wanted to keep moving so I decided to stay with her and help her get through it.  My heart ached for her.  The pain was persistent.   She was such a trooper. We walked as fast as her hip would allow her…at one point we turned around and realized we were the last 2 people in the race…sag wagon right behind us….As much as I knew I could mentally get her to the end, I know her hip was not going to make it and I didn’t want her to push her body to the point of not being able to run ever again.  We talked and pondered and she finally made the decision to get in the sag wagon.  After months of training and excitement to complete her first marathon, I can’t even imagine how hard of a decision that was for her. I have a huge amount of respect for her determination and perseverance and I would’ve made the same call if I were in her shoes.

At this point I thought I would start running and find the rest of the group. I selfishly admit that I loved every minute of the run.  My other friend called me and asked me where I was and we realized that I was about a quarter of a mile away from them so I sped up to catch up.

Let me preface that this friend was pretty much coerced into running the marathon. She was planning on the half but just started training with our group and before you know it, she’s sucked into doing a full marathon. When I reached the two of them, one wanted to run and the other was not feeling too hot and just wanted to walk.  At that point, I knew who needed me the most (we were half way done so still 13 more miles to go).

I did the same things that I did for my other friend: remind them of their ChiRunning/ChiWalking form focuses, stay positive, gather energy from nature and all the spectators cheering, and talk about things to keep their mind off the time.

We pretty much walked that last 13 miles and my official time was 6:17:10.  My best time was a 5:12:01.

Do I care that I was over an hour longer than my first one?  HELL NO!  

Was experiencing two amazing women give it all they had in their heart and their body worth it?  HELL YES!

So how have you dealt with this dilemma? If the answers to my question above were different, I would’ve had no problem running the race for me either.  My friends felt “bad” because they knew I could run faster.  I told them it was an absolute conscious choice and that if I wanted to PR the race and run, I would’ve made that decision.

Looking back to yesterday, I wouldn’t change a thing….

Here we go...

Here we go…

6:17 finish and Ann completes her first marathon

6:17 finish and Ann completes her first marathon

26.2 miles done!

26.2 miles done!

Great caption from the ChiMarathon book

Great caption from the ChiMarathon book

Another medal for the collection...

Another medal for the collection…

0 thoughts on “My Slowest Marathon ever….

  1. This is a true testament to you that you are doing what you are meant to do!! Anyone can run a race for themselves, but a true coach and friend unselfishly considers the goals of others. I ran my half marathon with a runner who has run the Boston Marathon, but he stayed with me, encouraged me, and I will never forget the smile on our faces as we both crossed the finish line. Not only was it my accomplishment, it was his also! Bravo!

  2. Ahhh Geez Lisa that just made me cry! It says so much about your character and why you’re such a great motivator! Yay for Anne! This reminds me of the Girls On The Run Running Buddy program 🙂 I know what it’s like to run with pain/discomfort of some sort…not easy. It’s a tough call to allow ourselves (the athletic competitive side) to listen to our body but a wise choice if it will benefit us in the long run. (Haha no pun intended). For me whether I stick with a friend or run my own race depends on the moment and circumstances. If the friend isn’t feeling well or the surrounding aren’t safe (too dark) I’ll stick with them, but if they’re fine and all is good…see ya…I’m in my own world.

    You are the best ♡!!!

  3. Lisa, you are the epitome of what every coach should be and an even better friend! Kudos to you, Ann and the rest of “the team.” Always inspired and motivated by your story. 🙂

  4. I agree this is a tough call, but what you did to help another runner was selfless. You understood where you needed to be and you were there at the right time. You are an awesome coach and a great friend. With your support and encouragement, our friend will run again and the other finish a freakin’ marathon. Thank you….

  5. I think that this says a lot about the type of person you are. It can be even more rewarding to help give someone else strength to keep going just by being there for them. My friend Stacy did this for me in the womens half this past year when I was having back trouble. Without her I’m not sure if I’d have finished. Sometimes just that little bit of help can make all the difference. It really is inspirational how you put your friends needs over your own 🙂 congrats Lisa and good luck in Sedona!

  6. When a runner participates in a competitive race, their effort and result is the best that they could do Physically AND Mentally on that given day. It’s a 50/50 proposition. Rationalizing your effort falls in the mental side. When you learn to understand both aspects , you can be happy with your effort without having to justify it. I learned this lesson Sunday finally after 30+ years racing. I ran the perfect race for me on that day. Hope the discovery comes to you a lot sooner than it came to me. Congratulations on your effort.

    • Congrats to you too Marty! At least I caught a quick glimpse of you on Sunday 😉 I love what you are saying…could actually be a great affirmation for people on any race day: I will run the perfect race for me today.

  7. Yeah. Have to laugh when a runner in a race tells me their goal is “to finish”. That means that they don’t expect to and will be surprised if they do. WAY on the mental negative side! You may not finish, things happen, like your friend with the hip problem, but her “best day” was achieved by knowing when going on was not possible and hey, There’s always another opportunity. Have a best day in Sedona.

    • Thanks! That’s exactly what I told her too…better take care of the body now rather than push through the pain, have a worst injury and never be able to run again…looking forward to Sedona although it’s a training run now 😉

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