The best laid plans ….

Posted: August 19, 2013 in Motivation

According to the history books, Robert Burns while plowing a field in the winter of 1786 upturned a mouse’s nest. He wrote a long poem entitled – “To A Mouse”. The most famous stanza being:

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
 Gang aft agley,
 An’ lea’e us nought bug grief an’ pain,
 For promis’d joy!

The common translation:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

So today I made the calls I was hoping against hope I would not have to make.

I e-mailed the race director in Utah to pull out of The Big Cottonwood Marathon.

I called and cancelled my hotel reservation in Salt Lake City.

I cancelled my rental car.

I cancelled my flight and re-deposited my miles.

I e-mailed the race director in Scranton, PA at the Steamtown Marathon and withdrew.

I cancelled my hotel reservation in Scranton.

Lastly, I cancelled my hotel reservation in Boston Massachusettes for the 120th running of the Boston Marathon.

In a little more than 10 minutes, I had erased all of the work that 66 1/2 workouts and 691 miles on the trails and the track had accomplished.  As we were once again within a handful of weeks to be ready to toe the line on Marathon Race Day.

There is another quote that I think of often which says, “those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.”

So I have poured back over my two training logs training for Houston last year and Cottonwood this year and all that I can come up with is that I might not be able to handle 70+ mile weeks.

The workouts, the long runs, the racing – all of that is the same from past cycles and a long stretch of healthy training, running and racing.

The only difference has been an increase in my top mileage from the mid 60’s to the mid 70’s.

Perhaps that has nothing to do with it.  Perhaps it has everything to do with it.  I’m really not sure.

But what I do know is that on 65 mpw we were able to toe the line healthy in NYC and run our PR on a difficult marathon course.  Perhaps that is all our body can stand.  Perhaps that is why we are a stronger middle-distance runner than true long-distance runner.  Our 10K, 10-Mile, 1/2 Marathon times all project much faster than our fastest marathon time.

So this month as we gradually start back on the Triathlon Bike and mixing in some short runs – I have to take a good hard look in the mirror and decide what we are going to do.  Are we going to go all in one more time and train as hard as we can for Houston in January.  Or do I take a more conservative approach – run for fun this fall and see where we are on November 1st.  Then if we are healthy and running well, do I run a few 20-milers in November and December and see where we are for Houston?

I’m not exactly the type of person who likes to have “fluid plans” or “wing it” when it comes to preparing for a marathon.  But perhaps I should give this change in approach a try.  Not put all of my eggs in one basket as I can do a couple of things in January and February this year.

If I’m ready – I can run the full in Houston and follow-up that race with the Austin half-marathon a month later.

If I am not quite where I need to be by December 15, I can run the Half-Marathon down in Houston in January as my tune-up for Austin, and run the full here on my home course.

The difference being of course that our Austin race course is 3-4 minutes slower than Houston – of that there is no question.  But at this point I just want to run a strong marathon – fixating on running that 2:59 has brought me nothing but heartache to this point.  If it happens, it happens.  If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.  There are far greater tragedies in life than me not going sub 3.

I’ve never been all that impressed by folks who have never been knocked down before.  It was always the ones who never stayed down very long who gained my admiration.  The ones that kept getting back up no matter how many times they hit the ground.

Time for me to get back on the horse and start again.  No more feeling sorry for myself or wondering what if.  Boston is going to be run in April without me.  That will allow someone else to be there this year that otherwise wouldn’t be.  Good for them.  I went for it and got injured.  No regrets.

The reality is that even though from the outside it might have looked like it.  None of this has ever been easy.  In fact, it has been quite hard.  But it is the hard that makes it great.

Onward and upward.


  1. Brad T. says:

    Sound reasoning in your words here, Joe.

    How about adding Longhorn 70.3 to your schedule on October 27? You busted out a 5:07 in your maiden 70.3 – just 5% or so faster and you’ll be stepping onto AG podiums.

    Like you, I have a long-standing problem with my Achilles’. My right AT hurts on every single run (particularly when climbing) and has for at least a year.

    The good news is as a triathlete, running is only a third of my workload. The AT problem only manifests occasionally on the bike (again when climbing) and never in the pool.

    Best thing is each of the three disciplines complements the other two.

    Hope your AT starts feeling better soon, Joe.

    sorry, Joe – didn’t intend to double post this reply on your PR page.

  2. robin says:

    So sorry to read this Joe, you worked so hard. It must be very difficult for sure. I’m not sure what the answer is as I’m no expert that’s for sure. I’m a relatively low mileage runner compared to most as I can’t handle the higher numbers both physically and because of time limitations. Hang in there I’m sure that great things are coming your way though….

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