Because we can can can

runner legs
Nearly barefoot in Kentucky

So far, I’ve picked two for 2013.

Around mid-September, I assessed the list of races I did/planned to do in 2012 and realized that it had hit ten. Nine of them were running races; the first of them was the American Birkebeiner classic ski race. As I did this math, I realized that I’d overcommitted myself in such a way that I’d likely be unable to do well on my favorite race of the whole year (the Big Woods Run half marathon), which would be the very last one. So here I sit, thinking about how to approach my training and schedule, next year.

Ten is a lot for me, especially when I consider a few things:

  1. Last year I did just three races
  2. After doing the Ragnar relay in August 2011, I wanted to add a race in June/July, as part of my race training
  3. The expense for those 10 races was at least $1400 (two of them involved air travel and/or lodging costs)
  4. Holy cow, I skied 54 kilometers. And I don’t even love skinny skis! Luckily, I love a lot of things that come in the nordic skiing bundle (snow, treats, my husband, going fast, sunshine, being outside, working hard, fuzzy hats, friends, etc.)

Why this happened: Firstly: I had a little more cash than usual, for some reason. Secondly, on July 4, Mother Nature delivered a bad day for a half-marathon PR (some detail can be found in this post).

At that point, only two more races were on my agenda (a 24-hour relay in August, and my beloved trail half in October), but I wasn’t sure how to attack my training, other than to keep the mileage up, and spice it up with some sort of interval workout each week. A few appealing races came to my attention, and my life schedule seemed to be able to handle them.

tomatoes
The garden ran itself.

Only after I’d registered did I realize that I was to pack on a lot of road mileage in the two weeks prior to my favorite trail half marathon, and very few trail miles. Yes, the latter are easier on the joints, so you can pile them on quicker – but not all on the day of the race without having the distance and persistently-rolling hills kick your arse.

I did pretty well in the two road races prior to that. I didn’t get PR’s, but my times reflected that I’d done some good training, and/or that my new shoes & insoles are helping me become a more efficient runner. Also, I ended up adding another leg during the relay, and I felt good that I was able to contribute the extra miles to our effort (we were down two runners).

By the time that trial race came around, I dialed down my eagerness and registered for a shorter distance race on the same course: a 10k. I once again managed a time that pleased me, though not a PR. It was a grey, rainy day, so a part of me was glad that I wasn’t out in it, wet, for another hour. But a part of me felt that grey, rainy days are exactly what I do well in, having grown up near Seattle.

In terms of wear and tear on the running body, I’m feeling pretty good, though various little aches–and an eagerness to find a Zumba class–seem to be telling me it’s time for a seasonal break from an intense running schedule. As such, I’m not exactly sure what nugget of wisdom there is to be gained from this year of racing excess. The obvious, perhaps overly self-critical lesson: that I feel like a race glutton, and a little self-control may have, at a minimum, put a few more dollars in my travel fund and possibly a few more hours of learning (via gaming or programming lessons).

For 2013 planning purposes: that amount of money could go toward a travel or build-a-new-kitchen fund. The time spent racing could go anywhere – a free run at my favorite park, a knitting project, learning more computer programming, updating my design portfolio, playing more board games with hubbie, or getting some more anatomy training for my yoga teaching.

What does it mean that I sunk that much of my money, time, feet, and heart into races? That I love the buzz, the competition, the cameraderie of those events? That I’m using them to back-burner things that are harder, more complicated, or just unknown and thus scary? Both?

Here’s to a more mindful 2013. Is a half-marathon or ski race PR or a first marathon worth maybe four races total, along with some progress on my travel or enrichment/career objectives? Do any of those matter if I make decisions a little more mindfully?

Have you ever found yourself mindlessly indulging in a safe, easy habit, when you know there are better things out there for you?

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