The Marathon Doesn’t Define Me

For years after I ran a 3:21 marathon in the 2009 Boston Marathon, I was proud of my PR. I knew it wasn’t the fastest I could have run, but given the circumstances (training in Iraq and not doing a single run longer than 14 miles for 3 months prior to the race), I was darn happy. In my tiny bubble of a world, I was fast.  

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2009 Boston Marathon

Enter blogging and social media. And with that, my introduction to lots of speedy females. Combine that with my competitive nature. My lack of self confidence. My need to be the best. And all of a sudden, I was no longer proud of that {3:21} number anymore. Instead, I wanted their times.  I thought that if I ran a certain time that I would become a popular blogger, get more opportunities and just be a better runner.

I felt like I had something to prove. To who? I’m not sure. Everybody. No one in particular. Maybe myself.

And so after I ran NYC as part of the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge, I set out to train my butt off for a much faster marathon PR. I was only a couple of weeks into training for the 2012 NJ Marathon when I found out I was pregnant with my second child. I was ecstatic, but there was also a part of me that was kind of bummed that I would have to wait to chase after that speedier marathon PR. {I know it’s totally silly and selfish to have had those thoughts.}

And so the 3:21 stayed on my bio, on my info on twitter, on my blog. {PS – it’s still there!}  I felt like wherever I went, I was asked what my PR was and each time I felt embarrassed when I shared my time. I was no longer proud. 

After my son was born last September, I eased back into running and then began training for the 2013 NJ Marathon. I did a lot of things wrong in the name of trying to run a certain time and prove I was fast. Speedwork was too fast. Tempos were too fast. Easy runs were {way} too fast. Too many hard runs and not enough easy days. Too many long runs on the treadmill. I don’t think it was one specific thing but rather a mix of all of the above.  End result? My first DNF.

Almost 5 months removed from that race and I’ve finally fully come to terms with the fact that my performance was a result of overtraining and going after a time that my body was probably not quite ready to run. I know I was in shape to PR. 3:15? Possibly. 3:10. Ehhh {especially considering the weather conditions that day -> I should have adjusted my goals on race day but I was so thick-headed I continued after my 3:10 goal.}

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s wonderful to have a goal, even a lofty one, and go after it. That’s been my motto with a lot of things and was the catalyst behind my signing up for my first Ironman. But, you need to be doing it for the right reasons. And you need to smart about how you train for that goal. I was going after 3:10 for the WRONG reasons. And I was anything but smart about my training.

On the morning of the NJ Marathon this past May, I was so nervous I couldn’t eat a thing. My whole body was shaking, I was nauseous and I felt like my life was on the line (it sounds so dramatic but I have never been so nervous in my life). All of my eggs were in one basket -> over a time I wanted needed to run. And when the cramping started at mile 21 and I decided to stop, my first thoughts were on what everyone else would think – not on myself or my body. My first words to my husband were something along the lines of “What is everybody going to say?”.  My priorities were messed up.

I was going after 3:10 to prove something, to make myself feel like I belonged to the “speedy club” and to give me the validation I felt like I needed.

In the days leading up to the RnR Philly Half last week, I was eerily calm. The night before and even morning of the race, I felt some jitters, but I was more EXCITED than nervous. I was finally happy to be racing. The finish line clock, while important, was a secondary goal of the day.

So what changed?

There’s been a lot of self realization the past few months. I think partially from having completed my first Ironman and partially not wanting to stress out about racing.  But mostly deciding to be happy with my successes without comparing them to anybody else’s.

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The result has been night and day. I don’t feel the need to push myself and my body to the limit every single day. I’ve gotten better with going easy on easy days (my easy runs are between 15-45 seconds/mile slower than they were in the spring). With not comparing my times with other runners. With not worrying about what other people think. And I’m finding that I am enjoying marathon training 10x more than I did in the spring. I feel stronger. But more importantly, I feel happier.

There is NO more pressure. 

I’m just about 7 weeks away from the Philadelphia Marathon.  My goal this race is different. I want to PR (I’m a naturally competitive person so there will always be a PR I am chasing). I would love to go sub-3:15. I would really love to go sub-3:10.  My coach and I will eventually discuss time goals when the race gets closer. But we haven’t decided goals yet.  There’s no reason to worry right now. I’m not obsessing over hitting a time like I was in the spring. My goal right now is to hit my workouts each day.  The marathon and finish line will be there regardless of what time I go after.

But, most importantly, my goal is to run strong. Run confident. Run happy. Enjoy as much of the 26.2 miles as I can.  To use it as a victory lap for a year that I should be (and am) proud of.  And I fully intend to cross the start line and finish line with a HUGE smile on my face.

When do you determine your goals? 

On a scale of 1 to 10, how nervous are you on race morning?  

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I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    50 thoughts on “The Marathon Doesn’t Define Me

    1. I feel like I could have written this. I ran 3:48, a PR for me in the fall of 2011. I felt really proud of that time, now I feel embarrassed because I know that it doesn’t reflect my current fitness. I’ve been training really hard for the CHAD half, I really want to finish in 1:35. There’s part of me that’s a little worried that I’m too focused on this race, like you putting too many eggs in one basket. But I’m trying to stay relaxed and more focused on the WHY of my running: Jack and the kids and families at CHAD. The more I focus on them, the less I feel like so much is riding on my race time. My smaller races this year have been really good and I’ve had pretty loose goals surrounding them, I’ve been relaxed and PR’d as a result. I hope that even with a concrete goal like 1:35 I can still be relaxed.
      Sarah @RunFarGirl recently posted..Swiftwick Review and GiveawayMy Profile

    2. That’s what was concerning to me when I saw your Instagram because we were going for the same marathon time. I knew because I’m a coach at a very successful high school program in the south and know a lot about running (but I don’t call myself an expert by any means.) It’s important to go EASY when you’re supposed to go EASY and your workouts, you should hit your paces, and not too much faster than those paces. It’s all basic exercise physiology. Glad you figured it out! (PS My easy run days are still much slower than yours, more like 8:20s-8:45s). I don’t wear a watch sometimes because I don’t want the pressure and I want my body to do what feels good.

    3. I think it’s funny how we all seek out other runners on social media to find support, and in the end it makes so many people feel inferior. I have gone through this feeling too! I am currently working toward a sub-4 hr marathon, and had hoped to do that in my early nov race. I had to put the breaks on a little during this training cycle because I started showing symptoms of over-training. And I have so many other competing priorities in life right now (full time job and 3 kids under 5). I actually haven’t even looked at my training “plan” in weeks. I do know the basics of what it says of course, but I had to take the pressure off of myself to follow it day in and day out, and shift to just doing my best. I still do my long run every week, I still do some hard workouts, I have some easy days, and some days I just can’t squeeze in a run at all. I am working on accepting that, and hoping to at least get close to my time goal in November. Focusing on incremental steps, and finding a true balance between running and “regular life” is what I am currently working toward. Thanks for a great post. And for the record, you are definitely speedy in my book!!

    4. think this is something that a lot of people have dealt with, the pressure to keep up and push just as hard as your peers. it’s difficult to sometimes enjoy your own accomplishments because there is always someone else out there who will be stronger and faster and can do so much more according to social media. thats probably why i don’t really read many blogs these days, it’s hard to see people pushing too hard all the time.

      but you’ve been working hard mama! you’re going to have a great mary showing, just go out there and have fun because that is really all that matters right? over the years i feel like pr’s and splits become less and less important and the good, and sometimes the bad, just stick with me. these days i’d rather go out and put up a terrible split but have had a blast race day otherwise.
      Britt @ Chicago Runner Girl recently posted..2013 Fox Valley Half MarathonMy Profile

    5. Thank you for posting this!! I am a slow runner and always feel like I am not good enough compared to others. I’m such a nervous runner. I’m unable to eat the morning of a race. I hardly get sleep the night before. So every race, I’m under nourished and sleep deprived. How to overcome this has always been a big mystery to me. PS, your going to rock the marathon :) look at what you’ve accomplished so far this year. Truly amazing and inspiring.

    6. This post really resonated with me. My first marathon I ran in 4:01. I was so happy and proud. I would have loved to see a 3 in the front of my time, but I was training for 4 hours and psyched I made it so close to my goal. Crossing that finish line ranks up there with giving birth and getting married.

      Then I started reading running blogs and began to feel bad about myself. The times being posted for ‘easy’ runs were more like my all-out speedwork effort. I started saying things like, “I ran 4:01, *BUT* (insert ‘excuse’ here ).” But you know what I’ve learned training for my 2nd marathon, which I’ll be running in just a few weeks? There should never be a ‘but’. There should never be an ‘excuse’. I put into my training and into the marathon everything I could do at that time and I should be proud of that.

      YOU are amazing. You are an inspiration to mamas everywhere. Your times are your own – to some they may seem speedy (ahem…to me!), to others they may seem not-so-speedy. But they are what you put into your training, and I know from reading your blog that you put everything you have into it.

      So congrats, enjoy your race, and I hope you are thrilled with your training, effort, and your time. :)
      Carly @ Fine Fit Day recently posted..Fit Mama Friday – Round Up #2My Profile

    7. This was a really great post. I find myself always pushing for a certain time even when I am training. It puts a lot of undo pressure on myself and some days I just have to sit back and enjoy the run. This morning happened to be one of those days. I ran my scheduled 10 miles in a very unusually slow time to be able to enjoy the morning and run with friends. I also want my 2 kids to realize it isn’t about how fast or who you beat but it’s about loving the sport and if you have that then you can do great and unexpected things. I typically set my goals about 2 months out after I have some good runs in my training done and I can have a better idea of a realistic goal. As far as races I don’t really get nervous – I just have it in my head that this is for fun and this is not my professional job. I do get a little nervous when I wake up that morning but very quickly talk myself through what I am doing. I have trained and I am ready!
      Lacy @ Running Limit-less recently posted..The $$ of Running . . . Advice for those starting outMy Profile

    8. Thank you for this post! I have been following for a while (as a quiet observer) but this post brought me to tears. To me a 3:21 would be awesome, beyond awesome, but I am aiming for a sub-4:00 NYC marathon (though that is still a pretty big goal – actually a 23 minute PR). Last week, I was sick to my stomach the night before and morning of a half marathon which should have been easy to PR in (and then would have made me feel confident going into NYC) but I did not finish. As I reflect on that experience, I realized I forgot how to have fun and enjoy my runs. Thank you for your post – very inspiring!
      Cindy @cindyruns recently posted..I did not finish.My Profile

    9. love love this post Michelle!! love your sincerity & honesty. :) I understand the pressure we can put on ourselves by comparing ourselves to our peers. If it wasn’t for my hubby (who helps me to put things in the proper persepective) I know that I’d be a lot harder on myself in regards to our sport. 3:21 is awesome!! It’s also where my current PR stands in the marathon. Would I love to improve that? Sure!! But, you know what?! If I don’t… I’ve realized that I’m happy with how hard I worked to achieve that time & be content. I’m 37 & will be 38 next May. I’m not getting younger & goals, priorities shift a little bit. Training, recovery, etc. 😉

      You’re an incredible athlete, mommy, wife & I can tell you’re a great friend as well. By taking the pressure off of yourself you will attain your goals!! Running (your ability) is a gift & perspective is so important. :)

      You’re going to do great in Philly!! Smile when it hurts & run with your heart!! :)

    10. Oh my gosh I love you. I never set goals until race morning BECAUSE I can’t handle that kind of pressure on myself. If I make goals ahead of time I always end up self-sabotaging right before. It’s weird. I can’t compare myself to all you speedy ladies. I’m just an old lady with a hip problem who is lucky to be able to run again. HUGS!
      STUFT Mama recently posted..Sleep, Running Thoughts and Some Throwback ShotsMy Profile

    11. So much more than a marathon defines you – however it’s hard to deal with the self talk when you are competitive. I’m middle of pack runner, but there are many other aspects of my life where I do the same thing. Sometimes you have to just take a step back to get a little perspective in order to move along. Sounds like you’re on the right path!!
      Michelle recently posted..A Day In My LifeMy Profile

    12. I read a lot of running blogs at this point, but this post hit home harder than any post I’ve read. I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago and I’ve been so inspired by your whole journey & your outlook on everything. Someone who isn’t competitive or doesn’t run might not “get this”, but the exact feelings that you describe are what I have been feeling for the past few months. I just ran my first half marathon (the Newport half in Jersey City) this past Sunday. Before this summer I was not a runner and only ran a few miles here and there to help with my weight loss after having my two boys. So when I set my goal of running my first half, I wasn’t reading any blogs and I simply wanted to finish, perhaps under 2 hrs. Then I started training and reading and suddenly that goal time kept changing. What was I thinking, I’ve never run one before! So going into Sunday (after literally obsessing over the time for weeks), I had a goal of under 1:45 that I told my husband, but a goal of 1:42 in my head. I made myself so nervous that I failed to enjoy the race as much as I probably should have. All because I was focused on those bloggers (like you :-) ) who are sooo much faster and I just wanted to have a time to be proud of. Well, long story short, I finished in 1:43:08, which is actually faster than anyone I personally know, it’s a PR (nice thing about the first time you run a race), and it met my realistic goal of under 1:45. I should be proud, and really I am, but as soon as I finished my thoughts immediately went to all of the things I should have and could have done better…

      It made me sad that here I had so many people cheering me on (most importantly my husband, 4 yr old and 17 month old), and yet deep down inside I was beating myself up!

      So thank you, Michele, for saying everything I’ve been thinking, and inspiring me to run for ME, not for what everyone else might think. Because the truth is, we are our own biggest critic, and I guarantee you 99.9% of all people reading your blog are AMAZED by everything you do (even if their PR happens to be faster than yours). We are not defined by our times :-)

      PS- I thought about your post about your Philadelphia half, while I was running mine. When it got really hard I just kept thinking one more, just one mile at this pace…then I would pick a runner and catch them…then another. Those miles flew by! So thank you, you inspire so many people & have so much to be proud of!

    13. Nice realization!!! Ever since I had to have the Hip Labrum surgery, I’ve been slower than most people. I sometimes fight with the frustration that I put in rather heavy training and my friends start to place expectations on my races, and also to question why did I train so hard if my result was going to be slow? Well, I do enjoy the training more than the racing…and sometimes you know race day just things don’t pan out! I actually had a friend tell me my coach should gaurentee my goal time, right….clearly she is crazy. Glad you are feeling happier. best wishes hitting your awesome goal time.
      Holly recently posted..Weekly Wrap up!My Profile

    14. I think this is something a lot of us struggle with, me included. When I entered the world of blogging, I started to realize how FAST other women were! I would think, “well shoot…I am too slow. I can’t even be proud of my 3:32”. But I have come to realize that those other people don’t matter. What matters is US. We run for ourselves! I actually wrote a blog post about that yesterday :)

      I love following you and love your honesty. You inspire me and I totally respect your honesty on this subject.

      xo!
      Ali
      Ali recently posted..Lessons Learned Through 1,000 MilesMy Profile

    15. Thank you so much for this post. It seems you and I were much on the same page today in our blogs. I am now in your shoes. My goal was to BQ by 40 in honor of my dad who passed from cancer in 2007. I promised him I would run a big race in his honor and that race for me is Boston. I have taken 4 years to go from 13-15 minute miles to now happily running in the 8 range. I have been smart. I was not as smart with this training schedule though. I run the Toronto Marathon in 3 1/2 weeks. I definitely over-trained. Why? Back many moons ago when I started running as a teen it was to cope with being a rape survivor and deal with the severe depression and PTSD that followed. The past year I started focusing too much on all of those Instagram watch pictures and blog posts though of the speedy ladies, you are included in this group. So I went into this training going for speeds that were too much for me and not taking every easy run easy. My body and spirit are not happy about it. So now I go into the next few weeks listening and breaking away from the numbers. I wrote about it today on my blog. Thank you for your post today. It made me cry. I have felt so alone in this and ashamed of pushing myself too much, but your post made me realize I am not alone in this one.
      Jolene Cannady recently posted..A Simple Smile (Wait You Have Something Stuck In Your Teeth)My Profile

    16. I can so relate to this and my hubby gave me a “good talking to” a couple of months ago. Before I started blogging I used to think my half 1:42 and full 4:12 were great times and I was quite proud of myself. Fast forward to the start of blogging and I just felt like woah, I guess I’m nothing special. After I got injured from doing too much too soon my husband sat me down and said who are you doing this for? Is it for you? Are you enjoying this? He said that he didn’t see the joy I used to have when running previously and he was right. I felt like I had to prove myself to everyone, especially if I’m blogging about running. But no more, I let it go, even trying to post something on my blog everyday.

      Thank you for writing this, you’ve always been such a huge source of inspiration for me and its comforting to know that someone as awesome as you can have the same kind of insecurities. Hugs!
      Adriana @Laced Up With Lipstick recently posted..Friday Feature Profile: Meet Laced Up With Lipstick Reader Lisa JonesMy Profile

    17. One of the best posts you ever wrote. I just love how sincere you are and how you manage to keep it real all the times. Although, I have to say, it was hilarious for me to read that you were so nervous at the beginning of the NJ Marathon when you spent years in Iraq! Now, that would totally freak me out. You’re such a great runner and mom and I know that the term “speedy” is very subjective but believe me, to most of us, you ARE def speedy! Hope I’ll have the chance to meet you in Staten Island on Oct 13th 😉
      MartinaNYC@runtomakeadifference recently posted..#AJO Paying It Forward-in honor of Alyssa Josephine O’NeillMy Profile

    18. I can totally relate to this! I find myself comparing myself to other bloggers a lot, and as I prepare to run NYCM, I have a time goal too and am really REALLY hoping I get it. But you’re right, it should be about running strong and feeling happy, and I’m trying to remember that as well! I ran my first marathon in 2011 (NYC) and this will be my second. I completely bonked in my first and finished in 5:20 and whenever anyone asks I’m embarrassed by it…which is why I want to do better this year BUT I will keep your words in mind! I should be proud that I’m even running marathons!
      Patty (reach-yourpeak.com) recently posted..5th Avenue Mile Race RecapMy Profile

    19. Love this!! and in my eyes, you are most definitely already part of the speedy club :) You’re amazing!
      I just ran my first marathon a couple of weeks ago and I was SOOOO nervous. My nerves were a wreck the whole day before and it lead to a rough first half of the race. But usually the morning of it’s a nervous/excited mix. I love racing. The atmosphere and finally competing against yourself and putting all your training to work is the best!

    20. Michele thank you so much for this post! The comparison game can really do a number on my psyche and I worry sometimes that it will suck the fun out of running for me. To know that an athlete of your abilities and accomplishemnts feels this pressure is eye-opening for me. I really appreciate your honesty! And I love the space you’re in now as you get ready for Philly – I cannot wait to hear how it goes for you!
      Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted..Wicked Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

    21. What a great post and I can certainly relate. When I first started running I was running my runs all way to fast for my body to handle. I thought that is what you are supposed to do. The result led to a stress fracture on my 21st birthday. Though I obviously didn’t want an injury, it was an injury I needed to grow as a person and as a runner.
      Hollie recently posted..Marathon Thoughts and Knee Pain ReductionMy Profile

    22. Love love love this. You are an incredible runner and athlete, and NO race or time will ever define you. I struggled for a few years while trying to BQ, after getting it a weight was lifted off my shoulders and then I realized I was stressing so much about getting to a time dictated by someone else deeming enough. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly excited to do Boston next year and proud of how hard I worked to reach it. But going into Wineglass marathon next weekend I have big goals, and they are goals for ME. I want that PR I want that faster time because I know I can do it and I want to prove it to myself- for once it’s not about chasing a time someone else deems fast enough for something and I am so excited to push myself and see what I can do.
      Laura @losingrace recently posted..Last Track Workout & Accepting Taper(sort of)My Profile

    23. I saw your post subject line and wanted to reply before even reading your post! And then I read your post and REALLY wanted to reply. I want to thank you for being so transparent about your insecurities. It’s amazing that at an any level we can just take something that we love to do and create all this anxiety and insecurity around it.
      You ARE a fast runner. And you ARE always striving to be the best runner you can be. Blogs and social media should NEVER make you feel negative about the sport you love so much. They are meant to create a strong community and be a resource for people with common interests. This is truly an eye opener for many. As a MUCH slower marathoner, I’ve always felt really insecure. Heck I remember before I broke 5 hours and I would idolize those than ran 4:XX times. (I finally got a PR of 4:48 and it was truly a personal goal) But having just completed that crazy even I did last week (5 half marathons in 5 days in 5 states) I can tell you that I too have just removed so much of the pressure now. I saw people walk 26.2 miles each day taking upwards of 7-8 hours and with a smile on their face the entire time. I saw 70 year old couples running together hand in hand.
      I am excited for you. You’ve got a trainer and you are being more cognizant of your pace for slower easier runs. You won’t be undertrained and you won’t be over trained. But in the end whether you cross that NYC finish in 3:05, 3:10, 3:20 or 3:30….you will always be an inspiration to so many and you will know you trained the right way. There are so many opportunities to have PR moments. You’ve been creating a family all while training for all these events. I am so impressed.
      sally @ sweat out the small stuff recently posted..Center of the Nation Series-Part 3My Profile

    24. Let me start by saying 3:21 is an amazing time. You are a fantastic runner and you should NEVER feel like you have to justify your time.

      We ALL obsess about time. Would we be racers if we didn’t? But what I’ve learned with age (and believe me, I’m WAY older than you) is that just being able to actually run a marathon is more important than my actual time.

      I’m glad that your approaching the Philly Marathon with a new attitude. Just get out there and run it – no matter what your time – you will have run another marathon. More than what 99.5% of the population can do.

    25. AMAZING post from an AMAZING woman! I agree with this 100%! I go into a race with a goal…it would be unrealistic to say I don’t have a goal. But if I don’t get it, oh well, I do not let that ruin the whole race for me. Sure, it can be disappointing…but I only let it be disappointing for 10 minutes :) (okay so I don’t have a time limit…but not long!) There will always be other races, other days….running is just a part of me and I think it is when we become too stressed about it that we stop enjoying it (and actually usually do worse).
      I start out with a goal when I pick a race, but I am not embarrassed to change/adjust the goal if things aren’t going as planned.
      I get nervous, but it is an excited nervous!…I think it is just part of the adrenaline rush and the race experience!
      You are one awesome mom and runner in my book!!!!
      Jen @ milesandblessings recently posted..Runners= some really GREAT people!!!!My Profile

    26. I absolutely love this post. I’ve found so many amazing people and such awesome support from the blogging community. I’ve also found myself on many occasions comparing my best to others and feeling unsatisfied or disappointed as a result. It’s a mindset I’m consistently working on. We all have a lot to be proud of!

      I love your attitude going into Philly and will be cheering you on from afar! Philly was my first (and so far only) marathon, so it holds a special place in my heart. :) Keep it up, Mama – you’re an inspiration!
      Sarah @ Chocolate and Pavement recently posted..Thursday ThoughtsMy Profile

    27. I can SO relate to these feelings. In my case it was a 3:35 I was proud of. I had 3 kids ages 5 and under and when I ran that 3:35 and BQ’d I was so happy. Then I got into the running blogging world and read about all these moms in the 3:20’s or faster. (Which at the time ANYTHING in the 3:20’s sounded incredibly fast and out of my reach.) In many ways I love the running blogging community- don’t get me wrong but I tend to compare and compete when I need to remember to be CONTENT. :-)

      I think one thing that has helped me with my marathon time is by taking BABY STEPS. I probably could have been a bit more ambitious based on other race times but I first decided to break 3:20 (ran a 3:19). Then I shot for the 3:15 (ran a 3:15). Then I tried for the 3:10 (ran a 3:11). So I tried again for a 3:10 (ran a 3:09). Then I tried for 3:05 (ran a 3:07). So I tried again for a 3:05 (ran a 3:03). And now I’m trying for a sub 3. If I don’t get it, I’ll just try again. I’ve been baby stepping my way down- 5 minute goals at a time. Sure it would be awesome to pull off major chunks of time like some people do but that would stress me out and make me a nervous wreck race morning. By setting smaller goals it feels much more realistic. I know that I have done something very similar before so it’s not a huge drastic pace change.

      One thing I remind myself of daily is to be happy and content with where I am RIGHT NOW. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to improve but I’ve just accepted where I am in my training right now. This is the best I can do. I will keep working and I will get faster but I cannot compare myself to anyone else. And I’ve found that no matter how much my race times have improved I still find others that are always faster. :-)
      Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..Not Boston Bound 2014My Profile

      • Tia, you have been one of my biggest sources of inspiration throughout this all. Seeing your amazing improvements, the time and hard work you put in to get there, and the way you balance family and training – is the way I want to be.
        I think doing smaller goals is key. I think part of it is that I feel like my window (right now) is closing. I want a 3rd baby and am scared about having to crawl my way back to the shape I am in now. So I want to hurry hurry and get as low a time as I can before I go through pregnancy and PP again. I know it’s kind of crazy b/c look at how you’ve come back from all of your pregnancies. I think I need to focus on 5 min increments though like you said. It’s daunting to think about taking say, 20 minutes, off my PR time. But 5 minutes a year or every 6 months seems doable.
        nycrunningmama recently posted..The Marathon Doesn’t Define MeMy Profile

        • You both continue to inspire me! Thanks, Michele, for a beautiful, honest post. I started out my training this cycle wanting a big goal (13 minutes off) and now I feel like I’m okay with whatever happens, (as long as there is still a small pr!) :) I am enjoying the process. I don’t want to be too nervous race day morning (although some nerves are inevitable!) Can’t wait to see how it goes for you!
          Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..The one diet that works for everyoneMy Profile

      • Oh, my goodness, that is really inspiring! I think I’m going to start reading your blog now, too, Tia! The more the merrier.

    28. This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I recently ran a marathon (my 3rd in 2 years) and it was tough, mentally. Prior to the race, I ran with some folks who were too fast for my own good (my previous marathon time was 3:56 – theirs were 3:35 or faster). After that race, I’ve decided to stop trying to be as fast as other people, and just do the best that I can do. I want to make sure that I still love running 30 years from now, not hate it (which was how I was feeling after this past marathon). Thank you!

    29. What an awesome post NYCRunningMama!

      When I first starting running (which was only about a year and a half ago), I was only ever concerned with doing my best in races. Not comparing my time to anyone else. I think because I knew I was a “beginner”. The end result – I was always happy when I finished!

      Fast forward a year and to my last “big” race I did, even though I worked my butt off all summer training for, I finished feeling bummed that I didn’t hit my goal. And bummed that I didn’t place better. I had worked for months to train for this big mountain race (17.1 miles, up 5500′ then down 4500′) that most people will never dream of doing, and there I was all upset when I finished!

      So now that I’m training for my first marathon, I’ve decided to just take it easy and have fun with it! I will (hopefully) have plenty of other marathon’s afterwards to try and set goals. But for my first, it’s all about enjoying the training and most importantly enjoying the race! And hopefully that enjoyment will spill over into my later races, even once I have goals.

      P.S. on a somewhat unrelated note, but, since Boston is in the air right now – I do have a question for you – have you always been fairly fast? Or did it take some time to work up to that? I would love to someday qualify for Boston, but it just sounds impossible right now. My half marathon PR is 1:56 (8:54 pace), so running a full marathon at an 8 minute pace sounds unrealistic. But I also know I am still fairly new in the running world, so maybe someday it will happen (or if anything I can just wait until I’m in my 50’s ;).
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      • Thanks so much, Kate =)

        So I guess it depends on what you mean by fast =) LOL. I had run most of my life as a means to stay in shape for basketball…and did track one year in the offseason. I was naturally a sprinter. The first time I ever ran 2 miles for time was when I went to WP and I did it in 16:00 and felt like I was dead by the end (which according to McMilan’s calculator puts me at a 2:01 half and 4:14 full marathon). My first official race (ever) was Philly in 2002 and I did it in 3:54. I didn’t run marathons for a few years due to being in the army and deployed…but the next time I did (2007), I ran a 3:22 (took over 30 min off my time). I attribute most of that time change to speedwork and tempo runs that I did in 2007 while training for the Army 10 miler team (I had never done those two before). So, yes, I definitely think that you can qualify for Boston. If you aren’t reading Tia (Arkansas Runner Mom – she commented just after you), you should. She went from not qualifiying to qualifying for Boston to now hoping to break 3 hours! It takes time – just continue to push hard on your tough runs. Sorry for the long response. Maybe I should do a post on my running history and go into more detail =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..The Marathon Doesn’t Define MeMy Profile

    30. You ARE speedy! I tend to compare myself to others too, but I have to realize MY capabilities and the goals that I want to PERSONALLY accomplish for ME – or,like you, those goals get dimished when they are awesome nonetheless! I get SUPER nervous race morning – it’ll be my first full at MCM so I may want to puke LOL
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    31. Michele I love this post so much. I am so proud and happy for you for getting to this place and a sense of peace. And that you are running and training with a full heart. Social media is crazy and the whole comparison thing too but I totally get it – the combination of being a perfectionist, a competitive person and lots of amazing people and athletes. I often feel like I have something to prove especially with my yoga practice lately (which is ironic since yoga should be the last place that comparison and competitiveness should come into play). xo
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Spaces in betweenMy Profile

    32. Michele!!! I love this post. I can completely understand where you’re coming from and I’m so happy you have found a happier place for your mind and body to settle. It takes a lot to realize and accept certain pressures we have in our lives and for what it’s worth, you are FAST! You are an inspiration to so many and it’s because you work hard, you put in the effort to achieve your goals.

      I can’t wait for you to have a fantastic race in Philly! Have fun out there, it’s such a great race! :)
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    33. I love everything about this post and everything about you! You are one incredible athlete, but more importantly, you are an amazing mother, wife, and inspiration! I can’t wait to hear about Philly because I know, no matter what the clock says, you are going to run strong, confident, and full of gratitude. You ROCK!
      Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..The Greatest Mountain: Part IMy Profile

    34. My goal for the past several months (even though I am sidelined by injury) and until I meet it is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. That will require a lot of work to cut 1 hour off my PR. I am ready and willing to do it, but I will admit I Put a lot of pressure on myself. When I got injured last week I automatically kept thing “how will I ever meet this goal?”, “I can’t do it!”, “I have failed” – and then I sat back and look realistically at what I had before me and I knew I had time to still make it. Goals are great but they can get your way too hard on yourself and out of control! I completely agree!
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    35. I am soooo relating to this post! And I am so proud of you for getting to this place. I do think social media does a number on us. And it’s totally ridiculous–you are a stud athlete, so if it can happen to you, it can happy to anyone. It’s funny, after my last (crappy) marathon, I told myself that next time though I would do it on the down low, not sharing with anyone that I was even running one. I think the pressures of being so public definitely play a role in my performance. But if we look at it, it is self-imposed pressure. No one (at least no one I care about!) is judging us on our performances.

      I love that you are going into your next race from a place of peace–that’s exactly how it should be!
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    36. I love your blog, but today you have written an amazing post. I think so many of us can relate to your words today. You are really inspiring and you should be so proud and happy of all of the amazing things that you have accomplished and that are to come!
      Dora recently posted..Not all who wander are lost!My Profile

    37. Well said and thank you for saying what a lot of people probably need read! This underscores the important point that we need to train at our current fitness levels (based on recent races) rather than goal results. Almost always results in overreaching/training and not getting the training adaptations desired from workouts.