Back on THE RUN!!
Last week, I talked about swimming and my 20 year progress(?) in that sport!
This week, I’m going to talk about the run… Where it all began for me…. As a non-runner.
Long story short: I began college and couldn’t run. And it pissed me off. Friends in my dorm would go running and I was like, “how are they doing that”- they are gone for 45-60 minutes! I could go for 8-11 minutes MAX. And I kept trying (of course I did, have you met me!?!) I built to 16 minutes. Months and months of “trying” to become a runner and I just felt so frustrated that I could not breathe, got so tired, so embarrassed. I finally got pissed enough to shut off my brain and “give up” and I ran and ran. I ran 43 minutes, and then 60 minutes…. This was my first nudge to stop GRIPPING so hard onto my effort that it was making me fail.
I will skip 5 years through doing my first 5Ks, 10Ks, 10 milers, ½ marathons, etc and take you to my first marathon. I did not know if I could really do it. It was so scary. It was so hard. It was a year in between undergrad and grad school and fall of 1997. Not many others at 21 years old were training for a marathon, so I did it all on my own. My legs were so tired, my sports bra chafed. Running was so different then- there weren’t fuel belts or any of the nutritional gels, blocks, fuel that we have the luxury of today.
I was so scared, but I was so committed. There was literally no way that I was NOT going to do this. I had the will of a mule and I was OUT TO PROVE SOMETHING. To myself, but also to others. I was a bit mad at the world, and most people in it. I was mad at my life cards, frustrated at my repetition in life of being “almost there”, “waitlisted”, never quite where what I felt like I had worked for. I was tired of being the hardest worker and coming out less than…. (so yea, I was going to show the world, “fine.. I”ll be the hardest worker at running” and that proves what?!?!) But it was a fire in my heart. I was a long shot to go from not being able to run 10 minutes to doing a marathon, so maybe in my mind this would prove I was worthy. Through 20 weeks of training for my first marathon, I developed a huge will, heart, and commitment to my goal. Like I said, there was no way I was NOT going to finish.
And I did. It was terrible and also awesome. And I got a bit hooked. Not excessively because also that first year, I decided to train for my first marathon, but over the years, I did 1-2 marathons/year in combination with triathlons. And then I put a marathon at the end of my triathlon when I did my first Ironman. After this, I decided to change things up, change up distances, and focus on more speed. It made sense after I had kids in 2005/2007 to really make the most of my time and I learned to love running in a different way. Over time, I was quite successful at changing up my base speed, racing speed, the intensity that I raced at. Mostly, I discovered so much about myself, training, the connection between life and running for me. Running is my favorite (adult) sport.
During the early kid years, I kept up with marathons- usually just one per year to ease into the triathlon summer season. After I ran the Boston marathon, I continued to shift my focus back to shorter distances for a few years- half marathons, and realized 4 years ago that I hadn’t done a marathon in a while, so I trained for Marine Corps marathon for my 40th birthday year. 3 days before that race, I tore my calf while walking down my stairs at home. Fantastic. So, I have not done a marathon SINCE BOSTON in 2011! It will be 8 years. I’m thrilled and scared.
I got into my bucket list marathon: BIG SUR for 2019 and so here I train. As I write this, I have 15 weeks until race day! I’m coming off of a hamstring/hip injury which had me off of my feet for the longest time in…. 20 years! I didn’t run a single step for 10 weeks. I am back to training very cautiously and being uber conservative with any intensity and speed. Coming back to a regular running routine has been a good reminder of how hard running is!!! I am SO much slower than my previous paces that I sometimes laugh out loud while I am on the roads and realize that I am quite possibly moving at a walking pace!
Just as in my first marathon, I'm running with this goal of doing Big Sur a bit scared. Marathons are hard. It has been a long time. I wonder if I have less mental fortitude and if I have lost the "anger" that fueled my will of steel. I wonder if I've learned to be so much more accepting of myself (a good thing) that I will be too soft to rally through the tough miles. I wonder if I can get through those training runs that just crush your system with fatigue, tired legs and mind and heart, with the exhilaration that I used to rally from that! I am nervous. And it is perfect! I NEED THIS. I need to be nervous again. I need to restart! I need to show myself that I can be soft and strong, more patient (not yet patient, but MORE patient!!) with myself while still expecting myself to go to my line of what is doable and maybe over that line a little bit.
I have some nervousness and fear, but I am LOVING IT: I am running with joy- so very thankful for every step that I am able to be running either outdoors in the beautiful air and paths, or indoors on a treadmill. I truly feel thankful for every step, every SLOOOOOOW step! I wasn’t able to do it for so long and my break reminded me of how much my body, my soul, my mind, my heart just love and NEED this sport! I’m coming at it from a place of kind of “restarting” which is really nice. I somehow am using my yoga practice of “no expectations” to blend into my running and I really feel like I have no expectations of myself other than to enjoy it, take care of my body in the healthiest way (not necessarily the fastest way!) and to appreciate fully my love of running…… Similar to what I wrote last week about the swim—it is kind of a nice feeling to myself to be loving something that I am currently not doing “great” at by comparison to previous training marks but just to be truly in the moment. I am learning… I am getting older and wiser….. older, slower, wiser… and happier😊