The sacrifice of the long-distance runner

Screw loneliness. As I enter the last month of training for the half marathon, it’s the sacrifice that seems the hardest thing to manage about long-distance running.

It’s not self-sacrifice I’m talking about so much as the sacrifice of those around us. Every Runner’s World feature about “regular” marathoners includes some sort of shout-out to the marathoner’s neglected spouse and kids. My friend Whitney has blogged about her husband biking beside her on 20-mile runs through 17-degree weather.

Today, I’m nominating Steve for sainthood for giving up a ski trip to Tahoe to give me a better chance at running my best on March 21.

Cliff’s Notes version: We were tossing around the idea of an impromptu ski at Lake Tahoe. The only week our schedules would accommodate the trip was March 13 to March 20. For weeks, I felt conflicted about shoving my feet in ski boots, skiing hard, flying cross-country and generally wearing out my body leading up to race day on March 21. I’d ended up putting so many qualifications on the trip (“I could ski hard for half the day, then do groomers in the afternoon!” or: “I could drug myself up for the red-eye flight home to make sure I get a good night’s rest!”) it hardly seemed worth it for me. Note: That’s for me, not for Steve.

Here’s the thing about this: It means I’m taking the race seriously. Which feels kinda funny for a middle-of-the-packer for whom there’s no prize money on the line, no promise of greatness, only a T-shirt and a finisher’s medal. And, you know, the whole sense-of-personal-achievement thing.

Steve TOTALLY got it. Among other things, I told him that if we didn’t go, but I had a crappy run anyway, I’d feel really bad. His response: “Everyone has bad running days. You can’t control those. What we can control is whether we take a trip that’s going to affect the way you run.”


So we’re not going to Tahoe this year. But don’t cry for us — we have two ski weekends left at Whitetail, and are planning on a trip to Monterrey in May, timed for my birthday. This new schedule lets us spend more time with the friends we’re visiting out there and gives us a chance to do a bunch of things we probably wouldn’t have time for in the winter, like visiting a winery or six.

To take the self-applied pressure off myself, I’m employing a trick suggested by my friend Michelle. She suggests making three goals: One that’s pie-in-the-sky crazy-good, one that’s realistically good, and one backup goal you’d still be OK with achieving. My three numbers at this point: I’d be cool with coming in under two hours (or really, just finishing).I’d like to beat my previous best time of 1:56. And in my crazy-good running dreams … well, that one’s a secret.

1 Comment

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One response to “The sacrifice of the long-distance runner

  1. leofsky

    I’m so proud of you Aimes! Keep up the good work with your training. And, P.S., it made me laugh when you mentioned your friend whose husband rides his bike beside her as she runs…that’s EXACTLY what Ryan and I did this past weekend…and he was chatting up a storm while I could hardly breathe. Priceless 😉

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