July 16, 2011

Falling short

Until I recently decided to train for a half marathon, my running goal has been focused on speed over distance. I set a summer goal of a sub-30 5k, and I've been browsing Active.com and the Chicago Area Runners Association website for the right race to register for. In the meantime, I've just been running and keeping track of my own times.

A few weeks ago, I did a 4 mile run in 39:58, and the idea got stuck in my head of trying to finish the Bastille Day race in under 50 minutes. My finishing time at the Shamrock Shuffle was 57:18 - so to finish sub-50 would mean taking off an awful lot of time ... just about a minute and a half per mile. An 8k is 4.97 miles - so, a little less than a mile longer in 10:01? It would be tough, but with race day adrenaline, I kept the goal in the back of my mind as being completely feasible.

But I've had my concerns. Running has been tough lately; between my knee issues and the high heat/humidity, I've barely been able to break 3 miles. I tried to stay positive and listen to my body - it isn't that I can't run longer, it's just that I can't do it today. In spite of it all, and fortified with well-wishing messages from Internet and real-life friends, I headed to the race feeling confident.

We got to the starting line just as the gun went off, and got a bit of a slow start as we tried to edge our way into the crowd. I didn't see the clock as I passed the starting line, but I figured I would just do my best and not worry about pacing. I lost Lorelei pretty quickly, but by chance I caught up to Claire, a new friend and local runner I met at the Do Life event. She knew about my sub-50 goal and set the challenge for herself as well - we finished within seconds of each other at the Shamrock Shuffle.

I kept up with her and Casey (a friend of hers) for as long as I could, but after the two mile mark, I could feel myself losing steam. I could keep going, just not as fast as they were. At first I was two or three people behind them ... eventually, I lost sight completely. I started to focus on the mile timers, and saw ten-ish minutes from one to the next. My knee felt fine, my legs weren't killing me, so I pushed harder and harder, repeating over and over in my head: Just a little farther, just a little faster...

Crossing the finish line felt incredible, as always. It was tough, and I wasn't sure if I made the goal I set for myself, but I finished, and that's what matters. I quickly found some water, a banana, the cupcakes I had looked forward to all day, and Claire and Casey. We also met up with Claire's roommate and Jessica, another Do Lifer; I kept an eye on the finishers for Lorelei but couldn't find her. After hanging out for a little while (and enjoying the heck out of my two mini cupcakes), I grabbed my stuff from the gear check, hailed a cab, and headed to Matt's to shower and change before dinner and the movie.

Dinner was delicious and on-plan, and the movie was absolutely terrific. When we got back to Matt's place, he made me check the race time - on his phone, no time to even run and grab his laptop. He'd been texting me all day to cheer me on, and even (cue blushing) made a bit of a sexy wager for if I made the sub-50. So I had a lot on the line!

With bated breath, I searched for my name and number.


I exhaled deeply. Matt rubbed my shoulders and told me that I did a great job, that it was quite an accomplishment, and that even though I wasn't sub-50, I was sub-51, so he'd still pay out on his bet. Comforting as he was, I still felt an odd disappointment - I wasn't actually upset about the race, because that's a really amazing finishing time. It's a 10:12 pace, nearly thirty seconds faster per mile than my 10k. But it was just ... so close. Less than ten seconds faster per mile, and I would've made it. But I fell short.

To be honest, I'm not sure if the disappointment about falling short was even about my race goal, but my efforts in general. I first got to onederland in mid-June. It's a month later, and today I'm weighing in at 197 (down one pound from last week). Even though I've been doing a good job at staying on track so far this month (some choices better than others, but still binge-free), I still don't feel totally back to "normal" - like the way I felt in the first six to eight months of the journey.

I used to feel so charged. I was making huge moves. But my motivation has taken a huge hit since the end of April - I haven't even lost twenty pounds since then. My personal weigh-in log reflects the mood change, for sure:

I can't help feeling like I'm falling short, even though my logical mind knows I'm not, and I'm sick of it. It comes back to the running mantra: it isn't that I can't do well, it's just that I haven't been able to do very well lately. I don't mind the weight loss slowing - I knew it would eventually, and I go to bed most nights lately feeling like I've done my best. But there's still something missing, a little oomph. I have figure out how to get the emotional fuel to push myself just a little further and a tiny bit faster, so I can get back to meeting the goals I've set for myself.

Very recently, I realized that I may have pinpointed the last piece of the puzzle of causes, so next week, I'll be hashing out some emotional stuff I've been working through lately. And hopefully letting go of this will be the boost I need to start feeling like the old new me again.

What about you? Do you set personal time goals for races? How do you feel/cope when you feel you've fallen short - with weight loss, with motivation, with any goals?


CarolineCalcote said...

You just can't keep going full steam with the momentum that you have had during the first part of your weight-loss journey. If you did, you would hit that magic "goal" number, then be totally lost. You would probably decide you could stand to lose 5 more, then 5 more, then people would start to wonder if you are ill. I love fat2fitradio podcasts and their philosophy. They say to live the lifestyle of a healthy, normal-weight person and you will (possibly very slowly) become that healthy, normal-weight person. Even if it took you another entire year (or 2 or 3) to lose the remaining weight, what does that matter? You are in a GREAT place right now. You look amazing, you feel good. Does the rate that you lose the rest even matter at all? There is a long life ahead of you, so don't be in a hurry for any of it. Just keep doing what you're doing.

Tim said...

I think it's a good thing to feel disappointed when we don't hit our goals. I find it usually brings me back down to earth a little. I think it's also important to praise ourselves if we have made an improvement. Whenever I fail to hit a challenge, I try and work out what went wrong and how I can improve the next time. I guess it makes me stronger in the long run and makes me more determined to succeed the next time.

Amy said...

Ahhhh that is amazing! You did so so so so well! Don't ever forget how far you've come.

I think at this point in your journey you should start tracking percentage loss. A pound isn't what a pound was now.

1 pound used to be .28% for you.

1 pound is now .5% - that's almost double!

You're also a lot more fit and your body has become adjusted to this lifestyle! You haven't lost focus and you're still on the right track. You also have exciting things happening in your life... it appears you've headed into your first real relationship and that's something you've also ALWAYS wanted!

Life is short, but it's also not a race to the finish line. Take it in. Breathe. Enjoy.

As long as you're on the right path - don't feel the disappointment! You're FAR from falling short my dear!

timothy said...

i'm looking for my 1st 5k but all i wanna do is finish. time doesn't matter (yet) i've learned specific difficult goals stress me too much. you did great and you should be proud but i do empathize ........so close. that just means next time you'll do even better! xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Caron said...

Great picture. Look at those dimples! There's just no way to maintain the excitement you have at the beginning of weight loss. By the time you reach your goal and move into maintenance, you will have learned a lot of lessons about what works for you and you'll just keep on keeping on. I'll have flashes of renewed commitment but nothing like when I was losing weight at the beginning. You're doing great. :)

Ashley said...

For one, 50:35 is pretty damn amazing! But I can see why you would feel a little disappointed. Work through the emotional stuff and remember that it's okay to be slow on this journey during hard times. The only way you'll be able to move forward is to be slow and really work through your issues.

As always, I'm cheering you on!
(and thank you for thinking of me in my blogging absence the last couple weeks. It meant a lot)


Big Clyde said...

I concur with the other commenters, especially CarolineC. Allow yourself to be a bit disappointed for another day or so. Your own competitive drive helped to get you to this point.

But then, look backward to where you were not that long ago. You have improved so greatly and this is not easy. I think of it like riding our bikes up a hill. Sometimes that climb plateaus for awhile. Enjoy this plateau time for now...but keep up the effort. Your improvements will definitely keep coming.

Anonymous said...

I have zero to add on the race front. I could give you a pep talk about pushing through drudgery, but blah - even I do not want to hear that shit. Or write it.


I do want to say that you look so pretty in your photo.

I wonder if you see that.

Shannon said...

I know your a little disappointed, and I get that, but I just want to say how I amazed I am at how far you have come over the last year. You inspire me in so many ways, and, often, when I'm running, and it gets hard I keep myself going by thinking - I want to run like Mary!! Anyway, I hope your disappointment doesn't last long, and that you will see how great you did!!!

Unknown said...

Just found your blog & enjoying it...I think goals are great to have, and to aim for, it's great motivation. But if you don't hit them, need to remember it's progress not perfection and then do the next thing!

I've been watching the show Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (Monday nights on ABC at 10pm/9c) and it's very goal oriented...but to see all the progress over 1 year is amazing...need to keep the progress in mind! Check out the show...you'll like it!

Anyway, great job & look forward to reading more!

marisol said...

A year ago or even two, would you have even have been able to complete it? Don't forget how far you've come along in what is relatively a short time. Yes you missed your goal by a tiny bit but don't let it discourage you.

Anonymous said...

You did awesome in your race! Sometimes I think missing a goal by very little is harder than missing it by a whole bunch. But you did so awesome and should be proud. Your weight loss will slow down and that is okay. You're still losing, still going the right direction.