It's been two weeks since I failed at the marathon. A lot has happened, both externally and internally. Over the weekend, I decided that I might need to do an update to my blog post about failing the Big Sur Marathon.
Be warned, though. This blog post is filled with references to musicals. You'll understand why in just a bit, I promise.
Who am I? Can I conceal myself forevermore?
Since the failed marathon attempt, I've had to do a lot of soul-searching. I've asked myself why I run and what my goals are. I flirted with running throughout college, but I was never fully invested until I moved to California and signed up to run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2013. Then, after I finished my first half, I became "running arrogant." I knew I could finish a half, so I stopped trying so hard. I debuted at a 3:11, and my PR is currently 2:52. For as much as I run, the difference should be a lot more than that.
This led the to the question that I've been afraid of asking myself for a couple of years: what type of runner do I want to be? At the Captain America 10K in 2015, some woman came up to me and told me if I could get my endurance up, I'd be a force to be reckoned with. I was angry when she told me that, but some time and distance made me realize that I have the potential of being a faster, stronger runner, but in order to get there, I need to wean myself of walk breaks, which leads me to point two.
With the chance I've been given, I'm gonna be driven as hell
Upon that realization, I hit the ground hard last week. I did three CrossFit three times, ran five times, went back to Spin and drastically changed my diet. It ended up about as well as you could imagine: I ended up hurting the arch of my left foot and am currently on my second day of full rest.
There's a delicate balance between anger and determination. I was angry, and to be honest, I still am. I'm angry about my failure, I'm angry that I may not get a second chance, and I'm angry that it is totally my fault. Last week, I took out that anger on my body. On Saturday, I took that body out for what was supposed to be an easy 10K along the coast. It was anything but--my body told me that what I was doing wasn't sustainable and literally stopped working. My foot started dragging, my calf started seizing again, and my shoulder hurt at the same time the tide came in. What resulted was me finishing the race barefoot while trying not to cry.
Something has changed within me. Something is not the same.
Beyond my disastrous 10K on Saturday, this past weekend was also notable for something else: my thesis was approved and I will be graduating with my Master's Degree in Humanities in a couple of weeks. (The thesis was on the cultural impact of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, thus the musical references. Bonus points if you can name the shows.) These two events coupled together over the weekend led me to another question that I didn't want to ask myself: How can someone so smart be so stupid? I think the answer to that question is pretty obvious: pride.
Will I lose my dignity?
I run for the bragging rights and the bling. Somewhere along the way, I lost my love for going miles on my own feet. I'm a big girl and when I started running, it was a point of pride for me. I was a former hammer and discus thrower was running half marathons--for fun. But then, I got my first taste of bling and braggadocio and was never the same again. In retrospect, I think the Big Sur disaster happened in large part because I was too proud to admit that I wasn't ready for a marathon, at least not Big Sur. People tried to tell me, and I bristled. I was prideful, and I think that makes me the most angry.
So here it is, my digital mea culpa: marathons are hard and I tried to run one before I was ready. If you are planning on running a marathon, let me ask you one question: why do you want to run one?
Do you want to run a marathon just so you can say you did? Are you doing it because it's the next logical step in your running progression? Let's think about that logic for a second... What would you say to someone who wants to get married just to say they did? Or because it was the next logical step? You may think the comparison crazy, but in reality, training for a marathon takes the same level of commitment. You lose a lot of sleep, your diet is weird, your lifestyle changes drastically, you lose your social life, and it costs a lot of money.
Look at you where you are. Look at where you started.
A couple of weeks ago, I cheered on the runners in the SLO Marathon and Half at the 10-mile mark. One of my rallying cries was "Do you remember when a 5K was a long time?" Other than the one cantankerous guy who yelled back at me "It still is," the runners got the point. At some point, we all were beginners. We struggled to run for more than a few minutes at a time. A 5K seemed crazy. And then a 10K seemed hard. And then a 15K. Then a 10-mile run. Then a half. Then a 20-mile run. Then a marathon. And so on. I had forgotten what it felt like to run my first 5K. I had forgotten about how scared I was and how I didn't even know what to do with my car keys, so I bought a bag at the race and ran with it. It's crazy how things change, but I really needed the perspective.
To get back to what I originally asked: What comes next?
I'm taking two months off from races. I'll run a local 5K on the Fourth of July, then take another two months off and run the Jackson Hole Half with my sister in Wyoming. For those four months, my focus will be becoming healthier, but not just in the faster and stronger sense. I want to be in this body for another 50+ years, and to do that, I need to take care of it now. I'm cutting back on carbs. I'm drinking less. I'm writing down everything I eat. I'm listening to my body when it says it's tired (which it's saying right now).
I'm stuck like a dope with a thing called hope.
Essentially, I'm spending the next four months falling back in love with running and appreciating my body. My hope is that between now and Labor Day weekend, I'll lose 10 pounds, drop a bit of time off of my pace and get back to where I should be four years into my running journey.
I'll close with a simple question: is the flame that made you start running burning or has it been snuffed out?