Nothing like an injury to reacquaint a girl with her intention
As I sit here writing this with my taped leg on stacked pillows and wrapped in ice packs, I’m struggling to find my peace, my zen, my acceptance of what is because what is was not in my plan. My plan included thirty-one, fun-filled, sweaty miles this week, which I’ve missed.
That was three weeks ago. With less than three weeks until the L.A. marathon—my first marathon—an uninvited shin splint showed up. I’d been sidelined before the race even started. Impatient and frustrated, I spiraled down that dark vortex of doubt, which then had me questioning the whole crazy idea of running a marathon. Who did I think I was, anyway? My intention of pushing myself in the name of having a little fun was not looking like such a grand idea anymore.
The spreadsheet made me do it
I didn’t even know that I wanted to run a marathon until I heard myself mention the fleeting thought to my Superstar Marathoner Stepdaughter, Gia. Within days she sent me a spreadsheet with a sixteen-week training plan. That was the turning point. Because I am neurotic enough that given a gorgeous spreadsheet like that, there was no way I could not do it. (I kinda get off on spreadsheets.) It was full of things I had never imagined doing like running 12 miles! Eighteen miles! Twenty freaking miles! There were terms I had never heard of before like tempo runs, fartleks (really?), and strides. There was even something as crazy as a scheduled Rest Day. It was like learning a new language; I was intrigued and pumped to start this program.
Let the training begin
My first official training run was on Thanksgiving weekend in Paso Robles, California. I ran up and down rolling hills, past vineyards and farms, cows and horses. I ran happy and effortlessly. This was the first time I had ever run with a plan, toward a goal. And the first time in a very long time that I actually had fun while running.
I started running with a Garmin, and became
interested obsessed with pace and time. I did hill repeats hating every step until I got to the top and felt like a rock star. I ran a fourteen-miler by myself and came home exhausted and simultaneously exhilarated. Foam rollers and ice baths became my new best friends. Then I met my new BRF via Facebook who started logging miles with me. We kept each other going on distance runs with encouragement and juicy conversation.
I was having so much fun challenging myself physically. The unexpected peripheral benefits were immeasurable: sleep was no longer an elusive idea; tough bouts of PMS were knocked down by happy endorphins; muscles started to form in my legs, back and arms; and three o’clock pantry invasions no longer begged to happen.
Then, thirteen weeks into my training plan and a shin splint stopped me in my tracks. I worried and fretted, iced and rested, ibuprofened and prayed. I missed miles, major miles. I grew anxious fearing that I wouldn’t be able to run the marathon, that I’d lose the level of fitness that I had worked so hard for. All the fun and joy that my training had brought me was now being replaced with fear, frustration, and anxiety. I was losing sight of my original intention: to have some fun and revive my love of running.
Fun vs. fear
This could go one of two ways: I could either get totally freaked out about not being able to run or I could choose to have some fun by kicking up my cross training. I chose the latter and ended up having a blast! I hit a few yoga studios, each of which each offered different styles, vibes, and teaching methods. I took classes from favorite teachers and new teachers. I got my bliss on with vinyasa, Bikram (not so much bliss with Bikram, but the heat was therapeutic), hot vinyasa, and Iyengar. I forged an unlikely friendship with the elliptical machine at the gym, spending hours on that thing while being entertained by the four movie screens in front of me, which is a bit of a visual overload, but what the hell. I joined my sister in a sweaty Zumba class feeling like Frankenstein because I so don’t have the moves, but laughed and smiled through the whole thing. I even hit the greens with my brother one afternoon and learned to golf. (Sort of.) Slowly, I got my running back on.
Two days till race day . . .
I’m now healed and anxious for this race to start. An energy buzzes inside of me that I’m counting on to carry me the 26.2 miles. I’m so ready to roll. I have no idea what will happen on the course, but what I know is that I can not only run like rock star (or that I like to think I can), but I can also recover quickly when life has other plans for me.
How do you find your way back when you get knocked off your path?