What Would You Do?

March 12, 2012 · 42 comments

My North Carolina Saturday was absolutely beeeeyooteeful.

Perfect for my last long run before the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon this Sunday, right?

Meeehhhhh.

If this is a case of “a bad dress rehearsal foreshadows a great opening night,” I’m golden. I was dehydrated, which (I believe) resulted in some killer calf cramps. THOSE caused this really neat-looking running style I’m sure would make for great video clips. So, my final long run was an 8-mile limp/skip/stretch/high-knee dance that probably made me look like I had fire ants in my pants for a good hour or so.

If you recall, I had big plans for the Shamrock Half (a hopeful sub-1:38 PR). It seemed like the perfect race to finally go “all-out” and see what these legs can do.

“Why on Earth haven’t I gone ‘all-out’ before,” you ask?

I approach all my hobbies the same way: I do them as long as they remain fun. If I don’t enjoy something, what’s the point in doing it? I would be miserable.

Which is why I have run all my races for fun. I get excited about good times and PRs, but I haven’t ever really “set out” or planned to beat my time on a race. Just sitting here thinking about holding myself accountable for my time makes my pulse race and automatically makes it sound less fun to me. The pressure makes it not fun.

Anyway, I was going to really push myself for the first time this Sunday. The Shamrock is my favorite of all the half marathons I’ve run; it’s flat, it’s much less crowded than the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll, and it’s got the best after-party of them all. It seemed like the perfect time to push my limits on a familiar, flat, uncrowded course, right?

Welp, then that whole skin cancer thing happened, and immediate surgery was necessary. Not being able to get my stitches sweaty basically eliminated running at a crucial training time. Since I’ve been able to go full throttle, it’s been too late for me to improve my endurance.

Realistically, I know reaching my goal is impossible right now. My long runs lately have been the most difficult I’ve had in years. That time off kindasorta really screwed me.

So, here’s the question: If you were in my place, would you make this the absolute most fun race in the world, stop during the race and drink beer at spectator stands, and pose for fun photo ops? Or would you push yourself anyway and see what happens? I think I know what I’m going to do, but I want to hear what you would do.

…Ya know, since “run today, brag forever” may not be an option this time around. ;)

Regardless, the A-Team is going to have a blasty blast. As always… I’m not stressing about that part.

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat March 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Sounds like you’re being realistic and optimistic at the same time! You know you can rock a half marathon regardless, maybe this just won’t be your best one EVER.
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2 Dorsa @ Running Thoughts March 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I think I would just go and have fun :)
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3 Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots March 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I think you should go and have fun and see how you feel while running, you may feel great and surprise yourself with how well you do, you may not hit that exact time but you may come close :) But don’t beat yourself up over it, its like you said you run because it is fun for you

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4 Lindsey March 12, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I’m all for having fun, drinking a brewskie mid-race, and lots of great photos to post for your blog readers!! Have a blast — work hard — play harder. St. Patty’s Day DEMANDS that you play really, really hard :) Enjoy it! Good luck!

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5 Krista March 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Definitely keep it fun- Why put all that extra stress on yourself right now?
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6 Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables March 12, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Definitely go and enjoy the ride. There will be so many more opportunities for a PR!
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7 Kristen @ notsodomesticated March 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I think you should see how you’re feeling on race day. If you feel great and want to push, then do it. If you aren’t feeling like you can really give it your all and PR, then relax and enjoy the day! Either way, I hope you have a great time! :)
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8 Christine March 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I would understand that you want to push yourself to see what your body can handle and if it will yield the results you want. Your body has recently betrayed you with melanoma and you want to know that you’re in charge of it again. Just don’t beat yourself up if it’s too soon for a PR. Enjoy the beer and have a great time!

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9 Brittany (healthy slice of life) March 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Drink and smile for photos and just have fun. Go all out next time :) ps- where were you in NC? Don’t say near me, or I will be angry.
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10 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm

sadly nooo, I was at my parents’ near the Outer Banks. don’t you worry, I’d be harassing you if I was near you!

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11 Kate @ ibrokemyumbrella March 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I say, run for fun. As you said, it’s been a rough couple of months, and I fully believe you should love all your hobbies. You never know either; sometimes when you’re the most relaxed you do better than if you go into attempting to PR.
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12 Easa March 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Disclaimer: I have never understood why trying hard is incompatible with having a blast.

My advice: Don’t count yourself out before you start.

Clearly the cards are stacked against you. Your head is a big ? and your health has you all ! plus like you said the training wasn’t spot-on picture-perfect super-duper-awesome.

But, from a guy who’s been racing for 13 or 14 years now, none of that s matters when the gun goes off. All that matters is where your head is at _during_ the race and how your body feels between 0 and 13.1. Within the context of the race itself, every prior thought becomes irrelevant.

It’s wonderful to have no expectations. That is the perfect way to walk up to the line. But it doesn’t serve you to check out before you check in. Perhaps consider an even split start at PR pace or slightly slower and an honest evaluation of how you are feeling at 5k before you throw in the towel? If you reach 5k and you’re kind of unsure, maybe cruise to 10k and check back in at that point? That still gives you half the race to chug some porter and smile and wave at everyone. Unless pleasant surprises from hard efforts are so miserable that they are worth avoiding at all costs.

It’s ok to be a skeptic, to have doubts, and to express them. It’s OK to not try if you don’t want to try, if it hurts too much or if you can’t get your mind to the spot it needs to be. But you simply never ever know what the future is going to feel like until it becomes the present. If it weren’t for some “what if” life wouldn’t be nearly as amazing as it actually is.
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13 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

you are SO WISE, Easa.

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14 Amber K March 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm

If I were going to actually run a race I’d have to ham it up. Because there’s just no fun in running any other way!
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15 Lena @Fit on the Rocks March 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm

I think I’d go with seeing how you feel for the first half of the race. If you for sure aren’t going to make it a killer run like you’re predicting, then chill out and have a blast for the second half. It’s like a mullet, business in the front, party in the back hahaha ;)
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16 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

HAHA. good simile. I really enjoyed that.

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17 Jessica March 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Follow your gut. I think you’ll know what the right thing to do is.
(Says the girl who wants to vom after 3 miles…)
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18 Kelsey @readysetfeast March 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm

go for FUN. i would love to race the fun race you described! celebrate life, have a fun race!
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19 Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries March 12, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I think you should push yourself to the point of collapsing, jeopardize your health and make your favorite hobby UNfun.

PSH.

You *know* I like the run-drink beer-have fun option ;)
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20 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm

hahah. I could just HEAR your voice saying that first sarcastic piece of advice.

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21 Kelly @ Running Kellometers March 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I would have fun along the way and not stress about a time. There are lots of other half marathons and always next year. I wouldn’t want to risk injury if I’m not ready for the distance or speed… That’s what I would do. I’m interested to see what you end up doing. Good luck either way! :)
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22 natalie March 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Have FUN. There are always other races to be ‘serious’ at. :)
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23 Heather (Where's the Beach) March 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

You know, I think they should be more about fun than at PR. I just learned that during my last half. I always stressed myself out about time and sucked the fun out of it. They run it if it’s stressful?
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24 Rebecca @ Miss Magnolia Munches & Moves March 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I’d run it and push myself. The thing about running is you never know how your run is going to go until you are already running. So maybe, just maybe, it will be the best run of your life! That being said, enjoy it and don’t make yourself miserable.
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25 Kailey March 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Considering I’ve never run a race before, I’d probably do a combo of walking, running, skipping, dancing, crumping…all with a drink in my hand. Oh wait. That just summarized my entire senior year of college.
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26 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 13, 2012 at 8:42 am

haaha somehow, this sounds like my college career as well…

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27 Shannon March 12, 2012 at 5:55 pm

If it were me, I would go in without a plan and see how I was feeling on race morning. You make wake up and realize that you’re ready to kick ass in a running day. Or, maybe you’ll wake up and realize you’re ready to kick ass in a fun/joggy/drinking way. Either way, at least you’re able to run and that your cancer situation wasn’t worse than it was. :)
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28 Alyssa @ fit and fun in third March 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Drink the beers!!!
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29 Yellow Haired Girl March 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Pretty sure my philosophy would be to have a photo snappin’, drink guzzlin’ good time :) I have a pretty good feeling you’ll manage to have fun however you spend your weekend!
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30 Georgia @ Trying Something New March 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Since it’s your first race back since the surgery, I think you should just have a blast, run because you can, and really appreciate the fact that you can run. Drink beer, have fun with your girl and just appreciate life! You definitely deserve it :)
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31 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey March 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm

I say you see how you feel during the race. If you are feeling like you aren’t going to be able to push it, just don’t!
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32 Ricole Runs March 12, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I think you should have fun, especially if you have friends doing it, especially since it’s St. Patty’s day and drinking beer while running just seems like the thing to do, and especially if you have some sweet green costumes to wear! Sign up for another race in April or May where you can “test yourself” for real!
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33 Elizabeth March 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Hi Alyssa!

I love all of your posts. I’ve been thinking about trying out a 5k as I’m not much of a runner myself. My dad has been a runner his whole life and I want to run a 5k with him! But how do you find races to run in? Do you just google it or is there a website that you use? I’m just not sure how to get started!

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34 Alyssa @ Life of bLyss March 13, 2012 at 8:40 am

Google is a great tool. I just hear of races from other race expos, runner friends, etc… but you can use the tool on runnersworld.com that’s a “race finder.” Try that! http://www.runnersworld.com/channel/0,,s6-239-0-0-0,00.html

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35 Laura March 12, 2012 at 10:28 pm

I think you should feel it out. Some days you just feel faster than others….if you are feeling fast then go with it, if you are feeling like a goofball and just want to take a nice “leisurely” 13.1 mi run then go with it. You are gonna do great no matter what….make it any kind of fun you want :)
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36 Lindsey @ Happy or Hungry March 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Were you doing the Phoebe run? ;)

I say feel it out as well. You might wake up feeling like a crazy running machine and you don’t want to count yourself out! But if you know it’s just going to be a meh run, leisure and booze it up!
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37 Talia @ Bite Size Wellness March 13, 2012 at 12:11 am

You are going to rock it! Mind over matter…just go with the purpose of having fun!
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38 Katherine @ Neon Blonde Runner March 13, 2012 at 4:13 am

AACK I wish I were running that half this weekend!!

If I were you, I’d push it and see what I can do. Our bodies and minds are capable of a LOT more than we think they are :) I bet you’ll surprise yourself!
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39 Katherine @ Neon Blonde Runner March 13, 2012 at 4:14 am

(I live in Richmond VA and I know a few people who are doing the full…but the half sold out SO early on!)
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40 kristen @ livinlifeinlouie March 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

have fun!!! thats what I say
Also, just wanted to say I have my FIRST dermatologist appointment. I have been following your blog, and once you posted about the skin cancer, surgery, etc. I knew I needed to get checked out!

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41 Miranda @ Biting Life March 14, 2012 at 3:16 am

I don’t know what you already have in mind, but I think you should have fun with it. I’d be worried that I’d regret it if I really pushed myself and then I got hurt. Think of it this way – it’ll probably be the only race you’ll ever run where you can/will want to stop and do the fun stuff along the way and just take it easy. It might be really fun from a different perspective!

If you’re sure that you won’t get hurt – you’ll also probably be REALLY proud of yourself for kicking ass, even after the cancer kind of screwed you training-wise.

I’d say that either way… just don’t expect too much of yourself. I tend to be hard on myself, but I think that this is a case in which you should listen to your body and don’t put too much pressure on doing really well just because you had an unfortunate medical problem.

Whatever you decide… Good luck, girl :) I know you’ll kill it.

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