What Would Another Mother Runner Do? Save the Taper v. Spend It

We haven't had a recent installment of this series of What Would Another Mother Runner Do scenarios in a while--and we've missed it. So when saw Michelle San Antonio’s story on Facebook this weekend, we knew we had to feature it.

Michelle (with a pal) before 2016’s Philadelphia Half Marathon

After an injury kept Mother Runner Michelle from running the Boston Marathon in 2016, she planned to requalify and run a PR on April 15 at the Newport Rhode Race. Unfortunately, she lived every racing mother runner's worst fear: she got sick during her taper. Rather than race regardless, she picked another race, the Maine Coast Marathon, which was one month later. The timing was such that it would allow her time to heal from her illness but hopefully still be able to use the speed and fitness she'd already built. The day before the race, however, a classic spring Nor'easter was predicted. The forecasters were calling for sheets of rain, stiff winds, and just-above-freezing temps. 

The forecast. Looks delightful, eh?

Michelle wondered: should she race on regardless, having already delayed once, or push through and hope for the best?

What would you do?

Sarah says: While I know it's possible to qualify for Boston Marathon in craptastic weather (I did it in continuous downpour in 2010 Portland Marathon!), I would have delayed the marathon again. Particularly in light of predicted 30 to 40 mph winds accompanying the storm! Living in the Northeast, Michelle was running against the onset of summer heat, but I would have found a copacetic marathon on Memorial Day weekend, with the hopes that third time would be the charm! Then I would have run long on the day of the Maine Coast Marathon, then gotten in a touch more speedwork before, once again, starting to taper.

DMD says: So Boston Qualifying—let alone the distance of a marathon—feels so far out of my (injured) wheelhouse right now, it's hard to mentally put myself in Michelle's shoes. (Shoes, it should be noted, that have had too many frustrations lately. Sorry, Michelle!) That said, if a fast marathon was her priority and if she knew that, when she crossed the finish line, she was going to be disappointed if she wasn't able to race to her full ability on race day, I would've told her to save her taper (again) and find another race. On the other hand, if she wanted an adventure and a story that would always get runners to laugh, I would've totally condoned running 26.2 in a Nor'easter. Personally, I'm 100% in the adventure-over-clock-time camp, so I probably would've run. And then I would've taken a crazy long, hot shower and celebrated the badass feat I just accomplished with a huge slice of carrot cake.


Michelle decided to just go for it. It was her slowest and, due to some misdirection by a volunteer on the course, longest "marathon.” She says: "I'm not happy with the way the race went - I struggled with cramping hamstrings and calves and knee issues for the last 11 miles, and the awful weather on top of that made for a pretty rotten experience - but I am happy I did it, because I'd always rather give it my best shot and fail than not try at all." 

What would you have done? And do you have your own What Would Another Mother Runner Do? quandary to share?

8 responses to “What Would Another Mother Runner Do? Save the Taper v. Spend It

  1. I was right there with you, my friend. I am so happy you went for it rather than being left asking “what if”. Taking chances and daring to fail speaks volumes about character. I was on the fence and waiting for someone to tell me I didn’t have to try. But no one did – they knew me better than I knew myself. They knew there was no way I was going to back away from the challenge. I knew my goal of a BQ may have been deterred by the weather but damn it I was still going to run. I am so glad that I let go of the pressure because I felt amazing out there. I was cold. I was wet. I was in the zone. And I stayed in that zone for a while…until my watch starting beeping off miles before I reached them. Before I started feeling lost in the race – knowing something was off. And…you know the rest of the story. The miles from 23 to 26.2 (or 26.7) were the hardest miles I have ever run – a combination of mentally and physically. Thank goodness for the company of fellow runners – we kept each other moving against those gusts at the end. I missed my BQ by 3 minutes. I felt robbed. I felt defeated. I blamed others. I blamed myself. As the days go by my thoughts are changing. My body is healing and the fire inside that was put out by those torrential rains is starting to kindle again. Maybe its the 95 degree heat today here in Maine but I feel something brewing inside…and I can see new goals on the horizon. BQ here I come.

  2. Michelle! I ran the Maine coast marathon on Sunday as well! I was going for a BQ and was very intimidated and frustrated with the weather forecast, but my coach told me that someone was going to BQ that morning, why not me? The weather would just be part of my champion story! So I went for it! And I was all set and on pace until mile 12 when we got directed off course. So many frustrating factors went into that day, but we finished an “ultra” marathon in a freakin nor’easter! Congrats on your finish and your victory story! I have to laugh about it so I don’t cry at this point.

  3. I trained for the Best Damn Race Half in Jax, FL earlier this year. Race was in January and I had a great four months of training, no injuries and I was really looking into having a better half than my first one where I got injured halfway through. Unfortunately, I got a terrible migraine(I get them pretty often) plus the worst stomach bug where I was sick everywhere for two days before the race. I debated not even running but I just couldn’t imagine finding another race and tapering again. Also, I have an 18 month old(then a little over a year) that required being kept by her dad so I could race. Anyway, went ahead and ran. Managed the first five miles running straight and feeling pretty decent, all things considered. Then at mile 6 I started the question could I hold in my tummy bubbling for the next seven miles. I thought that if I stopped to use the bathroom I might never recover. So I pressed through and used all muscles I could to keep from hurling or ruining my pants. It was horrible. I ran/walked and then just walked as fast as I could to get done. I did PR by one minute but I had planned on it being quite a bit more. I do not see running another half in my future!

  4. Oh geez, the mom in me was all set to scold her for attempting a Major Goal in a freaking Nor’easter but then I read her race recap and aww, I get her now. (I still wouldn’t do it!) She says that it got pretty ugly but her race photos are beautiful!

  5. This weekend a friend and I are running the Madeline Island 1/2 marathon and the forecast calls for “soaking rain”. We ordered some of those funny umbrella hats off amazon and we are going to laugh our way through the course!

  6. Michelle, you won just by getting out there! Thank you for putting a smile on my face this morning. Hopefully you are feeling proud!!!

  7. I
    Feel like I had a similar experience in 2015. Trained for Houston, also with hopes to BQ. Woke up Marathon morning at 4:00am with stomach flu. After puking and pooping my guts out, I decided to go for it anyway and showed up at the starting line. After 12 miles of misery, I DNF’d. Then signed up for VA Beach in March. Race day was about 35 degrees, rain and 20MPH winds. I ran anyway. Not even close to BQ. I knew going in that it would be a long shot with the weather, but I didn’t have the mental energy to keep up the intense training for another month or so.

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