When early registration for the 2020 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon opened, I immediately registered for the full. I ran it last year, and I was determined to do it again AND beat my time.
And then the whole house came down with hand, foot, and mouth disease. The kids got better, but mine lovingly transformed into a bacterial upper respiratory infection. Cue the antibiotics. I was getting better, but about 2-3 days after finishing the antibiotics, it developed into bronchitis. Fun! I was sick from October – November.
December was okay, but influenza A invaded our home — and all of us — in early January.
In other words, training was derailed from the start.
I said this in my recent Instagram post, and I will say it again: Sometimes, God tries to give us signs. Most of us don’t listen, and when we don’t listen, shit gets real. For some reason, I just wasn’t supposed to run a full marathon this year, and that’s ok!
I decided to switch to the half. Part of me still felt a little bit uneasy because I still felt lost about where to find time for those long runs, but I felt much better about the half distance. I figured it would allow me to fully be present and participate in other P3R races: The Richard S. Caliguiri Great Race, EQT ten Miler, Fleet Feet Liberty Mile, GAP Relay, and more.
The first week of February didn’t exactly coincide with my decision. My mom and aunt, both in their 60s, were set to run the marathon, too. My aunt broke her foot in a fluke accident that occurred when she was walking down the steps at work. My mom thought she pulled a hamstring and began PT, and she came to find out that she has ITBS in her left leg that is most likely from over-training.
My aunt was out, and we were heartbroken. She lives in LA and already bought her flights and booked her hotel. Not long after, my mom was questioning her decision to run because her running buddy was out of the game.
My aunt said she’d run the 5k, and my mom was lost about what to do.
Enter the RELAY.
None of us have ever completed a relay before, and we thought it would be a great way to include everyone and take the pressure off of ourselves to commit to distance running because let’s face it — it just isn’t in the cards this year!
Within about an hour, we had five runners commit to a relay team that we lovingly named “Marathon Dropouts.”
I think this brings up an important discussion about what it means to be a runner, though. So many of us feel like we aren’t “real runners” if we do “just the half” or stick to relays, 5ks, and other shorter distances. I understand the feeling and the FOMO, but if you never run a marathon in your entire life, you’re no less of a runner. It means you haven’t run a marathon, not that you’re not a “real runner.” There’s a big difference.
The truth is that most of us aren’t running to win the race. We are running to beat ourselves, better ourselves, and enjoy ourselves. For a lot of us, running is for fun! So, why make it “unfun” by putting some much pressure on yourself? If this isn’t your year to run a full marathon or a half marathon, you don’t owe anyone an explanation if you don’t feel like it. You do you, sis — no one else knows the inner-workings of your personal life so let ’em judge if that’s what they want to do.
Last year, I ran a full marathon to prove to myself that I can do it. That I can do hard things that take a while. That I can be patient. Those were lessons God needed me to learn last year.
This year, God wants me to learn different lessons, and I’m not sure what all of them are yet. I’m pretty sure, though, that one of them is to trust my instinct and the path I am on.
I am SO excited to have such a fun, easy-going weekend in Pittsburgh with my who family. If you’re curious about a relay team and how that works, don’t hesitate to reach out to your favorite P3Runner ;-)! And yes, my code — POULLAS15 — saves you that 15% on relay registration.