Road vs. Trail

You'll hear from a lot of people that they'll only run trails, or only roads. In the trail community roads and bike paths are often deemed "evil" despite the fact that many of us came up running roads and often a road marathon was our first foray into longer distances. I started my running career on a track, the track and roads were all I knew until college when I joined cross country. But even then I continued to train on trails and race roads for quite awhile before I was confident enough to try a trail race. The thing is for me I love running. I'll take it in any form I can get. Sure my passion is on the trails and that's always where I'd rather be, but I'm not going to complain if my long run is pushing a stroller on a bike path, or if the trails are too muddy and icy so I bang it out on the roads. I may whine a bit about the treadmill, but it is often a lifeline for me.

My focus is definitely trail racing, but I like to try to keep a BQ just in case I decide to do it again. So here I was well into the Surf City Marathon, running decently, but just not enjoying it like I should. I was consumed by my pace, what I should be at, where I actually was at, calculating what my finishing time would be rather than just enjoying it. My head is pretty much never in this head space when I trail race. I might be thinking about if I'm on my splits, how much ahead or behind I am and where that puts me finishing, but its in a place of way less pressure. I'm much better at just listening to my body and going with it.

I crossed the finish line at Surf City defeated. I let a few tears fall realizing that even though I hit my BQ it wasn't fast enough, it wasn't as fast as I usually race or for some reason felt I should be racing. The whole point of this race was to run for fun and somehow fun only seems to come with a PR. It made me think quite a bit about my racing. Right now I'm not sure I'll ever run another road race. I'd like one more Boston jacket, so maybe...but I'm letting go completely of all the goals I've had for my road marathon. Could I run a sub-3? Probably. It would take a lot of hard, dedicated work, but I could probably do it. Do I want to put myself through that? Not really. I know I'll have a race at 3:01 or something close and be defeated again. I don't like who I am when I road race, I don't like my mental attitude and I don't really enjoy the races. So I'll continue to train on the roads when that's what I have, but I think at least for the next few years my focus will come back fully to trail races. That's where my heart is, that's what makes me happy and that's what I'm good at.


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