If you know me in real life or if you have read this blog for any period of time, you know that I aim to always be honest with myself. While I am elated that I finally overcame the 2014 Year of Injury and am back to successfully running the road, I know that I’m just not where I used to be nor where I need to be to tackle a full marathon right now. For these reasons, I decided to downgrade from the full to the half at this weekend’s SLO Marathon. I’m not at all bummed about this, however, I am happy that I am not allowing my ego to overrule good judgement and I know that I am making the right decision.
I started training for this full in January and got up to 16 miles, the longest distance I’ve run since training for my last marathon nearly 3 years ago. The 16 was great! I felt good, my injuries were just fine, it was slow (took just over 3 hours) but it was accomplished nevertheless- I was proud of my effort and ecstatic that I was mentally and physically able to finish a 16 mile run after all I went through, physically, last year. Totally planned on 18 miles the following week. I swear I did. The day-of-the-18 came and I just couldn’t wrap my head around 18 nor the impending 20 mile runs. I refused to give running all that time, I simply didn’t want to do it, so I didn’t. I ran 10 instead and thought, “Half marathons are awesome too, darn it.”
Having lost my dear father-in-law 3 months ago, I haven’t been in the happiest of places, so I guess I have to admit I’m still grieving. Shortly after he passed, my motivation disappeared. I didn’t want to go anywhere, I didn’t want to do anything, I certainly didn’t want to break a sweat. Every bit of my being preferred to get back in bed, pulling the covers over my head and feeling sorry for myself. I allowed myself those feelings for about a month and then finally shook it off to lace my sneakers and start getting back to running and working out again as exercising truly lifts my spirits.
Going through a loss like this is especially difficult because the rest of the world inevitably stops grieving with you- everyone else around me is back to “normal”, but I’m not. I am feeling better and put in my best effort to smile and laugh and be present with my family and friends despite the fact that I still have this nagging hole in my soul- the sadness is still just right there on the surface… nearly every long run I’ve done since losing Allan has included a break down around the 7 mile mark (it is always 7!!! why 7???), races included. My mind wanders while I run and before I know it, I’m thinking about Allan and breaking down into tears. Fellow runners always stop to ask me if I am okay- so embarrassing- and I try my best to say something funny, drying my eyes and thanking them before I begin running again.
So that’s part of it- run long, think too much- but the other part of this downgrade is because running just became fun for me again! I successfully trained for and completed my last half marathon with a huge smile on my face, I had SO MUCH FUN that I just want to stay in that happy place with running, not in that pain and suffering place that (for me) is a marathon. I’ve got enough internal pain to deal with right now, I refuse to pile on external suffering too.
I was inured all of 2014 yet still completed 5 half marathons and yes, of course, they were complete and utter torture. I wasn’t able to train, I was still healing, I had to walk a lot. But this year, I’m healed and ready to build on this literal momentum in order to get back to my pre-injury half times when 2:15 was a “poor” day for me and 2:08 was the PR. I’ll get there, slowly but surely.
Downgrading forces me to admit that mentally I’m not in that space and physically I’m still ramping back up. Back when I was marathon training, I would run a half and after the finish think to myself, “I can totally run that 13 miles all over again right now! Let’s go!!!” but now, I finish a half and think, “All done! Yay! Let’s go home!!!” and that’s just fine. So I still am really looking forward to the race this Sunday as 13 miles just got “easy” for me again. I’m excited to experience that absolutely serene course again while spending those miles working through my grief and reassuring myself that I can, and will, get through anything.
My journey to 26.2 is on hold right now and, honestly, I’m not sure if and/or when it will resume. And if it doesn’t, I’m okay with that too because I know I am a runner, I will always be a runner and whether my goal is 3.1 or 13.1, I will succeed. The run is always hard but my life is certainly easier as a result of the miles behind me and I am forever motivated by the miles I have yet to go.
And, as always, I CANNOT WAIT to run the SLO half this Sunday!!! 13 miles of glory and they are all MINE! Wish me luck!!! 🙂