Friday, February 12, 2010

February 11, 2010 - depressing day, and a tribute to Brett Favre, perhaps?

not really sure why, but i have really felt depressed this week. i'm thinking it is the frustrations of being essentially forced to take a job that i feel makes me highly underemployed. it's great to have a job of any sort, after being unable to find one for so long, but the realities are that my salary is about the same as what i was getting from unemployment insurance.. which means that many bills will still not get paid.. the transition continues to be on hold, and that is not good. even worse, my entire life remains on hold, as i am unable to move forward on so many other things that i need to get done, both transitionwise and otherwise. in addition to not having the money, i now don't have the time either, as this new job and new schedule is sapping what little energy i have. it is eating up about 60 hours a week, including working, traveling to work, etc.

i am also coming to terms with the fact that my days as a good quality runner are likely over, and i have been seriously thinking about retiring from the sport of amateur marathon running for good. it's going to take everything i have to complete Boston and Big Sur.

i realize that i have technically retired twice and made comebacks almost immediately afterwards twice, but this time, i am serious. i have been thinking about this every day for the past 3-4 months. this transition from male to female has brought so many challenges physically, that it has become impossible for me to keep up with the necessary training requirements to complete marathons. my strength, speed, and endurance levels have dropped significantly, and most importantly, my energy levels have dropped far below anything that i could have ever imagined. it's been an amazing 3 years of marathons, but the wear and tear on my knees have taken its toll as well. for months now, i can't even seem to get through a long run, or even a medium run, without knee pain. i had high hopes for Boston this year, and even set a goal of trying to requalify, but that is clearly off the table now. my only goal is to finish these last 2 races.

while i admire people who complete marathons in any time, i've always maintained that anything slower than 5 hours is not really a real run, it is a jog or a walk, and that is not who i am or what i am about. i've always said that the day i can no longer run a sub 5 hour marathon will be the day i quit the sport. this has never really been an issue up til now (except for the close call in Charlottesville last year when i had to slow down due to cramping), but now, i'm even worried that i won't even make the 6 hour cut off to finish Big Sur. i'm sure i will make it, but it won't be easy. i will be entering these last 2 marathons unprepared as i literally do not have what it takes to put in the required training.

also, training is not fun anymore. in fact, it's additional stress and pressure that i put on myself that i don't need or want anymore. i used to very much look forward to race day, but now, i am actually dreading the thought of having to complete these runs. don't get me wrong, i realize the accomplishment of qualifying for Boston, and i very much want to follow thru and complete the run that i have earned the right to run.. and i know it will be a great feeling to be able to say that i ran back to back Bostons.. but at the same time, i am also strongly feeling that i won't want to do it anymore. right now, and for the past 3 months, i have felt 99% certain that Big Sur will be my last marathon for a very very long time.. perhaps forever. only time will tell.



Arthur Drayton said...

Hey Jennifer,

When running becomes painful and you no longer enjoy it then take a break from the sport for a while, but don't quite it. Why not try some low impact exercises that compliment running so that when you do come back to running you won't lose fitness but your joints will thank about XC skiing? Great time for that right now in NFLD.

Another thing is that once you get your weight down running will undoubtedly become more enjoyable...the less force on teh knees the better.

You seem to enjoy swimming...why not hammer that out for a few months to let your joints heal but yet the exercise will help you lose the weight.

Another option Elliptical...

Just don't give up yet.

Jennifer McCreath said...

hi Arthur!

thanks for sharing your thoughts.

weight loss is unfortunately not a real option right now. the transition process is commonly known to lead to weight gain during the hormone replacement therapy stages, and this is exactly what has happened to me. estrogen encourages fat storage, and it also hurts metabolism and leads to lack of energy and muscle loss.. essentially, it becomes tougher to complete any type of endurance or cardio activity.

i'm definitely going to focus more on swimming for the duration of this year.. running will always be a part of my daily life, but i'm just not convinced that competing in formal marathon events is right for me.. i'll definitely continue to run as a training exercise to promote overall health and fitness, and i certainly won't rule out future participation in shorter distanced races, such as half marathons, and 10ks.

nwtrunner said...

Jennifer - after running marathons from 1985 through 2009 I also decided that I just couldn't muster the energy and enthusiasm for the longer distances, so switched to half marathons last year after the Bluenose Marathon - had MUCH more fun, really enjoyed the races and had lots of energy left after each of them, and it didn't beat me up physically and mentally. You said that you're thinking of switching to 10Ks and half marathons, and that might just be the way to go. Hey, it was fun doing that MUN 5K last fall, right? That was my first 5K run in over 25 years!

And I agree with Arthur that skiing, swimming, biking, hiking can all give a huge amount of satisfaction while also being very good for you.