What running (a lot) has taught me
- To forget. At least for a little while. To shut off the part of my brain that feels the need to be concerned, to be ever present, to be in the library for hours or to be interacting with people, to be worried about things I should be doing, need to be doing, could be doing… Running has enabled me to shut down my stress and escape for a time, be it 30 minutes to three hours, albeit out of necessity during my training.
- To sacrifice. Be it sleep, energy, studying, time with friends, or food.
- To not think about anything and to think about everything. If asked what consumes my mind while running, I couldn’t really tell you. Sometimes it’s nothing but figuring out what my body is feeling, or listening to the song or book on my iPod, or absorbing what I’m seeing. Sometimes I’m thinking about how much people can suck, granted, this is usually brought on by men who think it is fun to honk at running women. Sometimes I’ll get lost in thought thinking about people I love, places I’d like to go, sex I’d like to have…those types of things.
- To listen to and understand my body. During training I woke up days and didn’t want to run and I didn’t have the energy. So I didn’t go. Some days all those muscles and bones don’t work right or don’t want to work and there was no sense in stressing out about a run and hurting myself. For three weeks before the marathon I was nursing a sore knee and some days could not run as far as I needed. I let it go. Listening to my body wasn’t always about pain either. Some days I felt really good, and worked off of that.
- To sometimes say “fuck you body” and go run anyways. In other words, to push yourself over some limit. Pain does go away. In the hopes of not sounding like one of those really intense athletes (which I’m not), I won’t go too much into this. It’s something I’ve done. And in the end, it feels better to have gone running and feel sore than to have not gone and feel shitty.
- To appreciate those that support me. I started training in Kalamazoo, through Ohio, in Connecticut, and back to Kalamazoo. Marathon training was one of the few things I did this summer, so really, I talked about it a bit. Having the support of friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances enabled me to get through some of the shittier moments.
- To have faith in the capability of my body. Though I worked off of a training program for the marathon in October, I was not always that great at following it. When I went back home for two weeks at the end of the summer, I didn’t really run. The week before my SIP draft was due, I ran six miles out of the 40 planned. My knee gave me issues; my last long run was painful and slow. But I also I woke up one morning, should have been hungover (though maybe beer is really a great carb), went on a test run, and ended up running 20 miles and felt great afterwards. The night preceding the marathon I probably had 5 hours of sleep, was anxious about my knee, worried that my training hadn’t been enough, but came to the conclusion “to hell with everything, I’m finishing this damn thing no matter how I feel.” Race day came and my knee held itself together, my mind didn’t fail me, my bladder didn’t out due me, I casually pushed myself ahead of the pacer to which I had assigned myself, and just went with it all. So I suppose in some ways the faith I had in my body was founded on a backwards sort of motivation.
What you don't want to hear behind you at the starting line of a marathon you're running alone/things that can be inspiring, if you take on the "I can do anything" attitude:
- Girl 1: God, I would hate to run this by myself.
- Girl 2: I KNOW! God, that would be so awful.
- Girl 1: I just can't imagine, it would be the worst.
- Girl 2: I'm soooo glad I have you here!
- Girl 1: Me TOO! I couldn't do this without you!
- Me thinking: GAHH its fucking cold. Why aren't we moving? Who are you stupid girls? Can't you see I'm alone here? At least I have a cheering squad that will knock yours out of the water we're about to run over.
I’ve got one month of training left for the Detroit Free Press Marathon. So far my training has been better than last year’s. Granted, I gave myself 16 weeks to train (versus 9 or 10 last year), could already run 7 miles when I started (versus not being able to run 2), and training for a fall race seems to be a bit more enjoyable than one in July. I’m feeling relatively confident, at least I was on Sunday after running 20 miles. I haven’t been having much knee or ankle pain, which was a constant with last years training and I’m hoping that the actual marathon doesn’t bring out any of the persistent aches from last year. I haven’t been perfectly following the training schedule I bought, but really at times its impossible at Kalamazoo College to follow any schedule that I’d like to have. I’m hoping this next month goes smoothly, with enough sleep (unlikely), not too much drinking (unlikely given that my SIP draft is due Monday), and no injuries. I’m hoping to cut an hour off of my time from the last marathon, however likely or unlikely that may be. Though that one was pretty damn slow (as a side note, I would not recommend running anyone’s first marathon in Vermont unless you live and train in mountains). Detroit is supposedly flat, I get to run to Canada, and at least the map shows more than one port-a-potty on this route. Anyways, this is another post about one of the few things I do besides school and I’m procrastinating my SIP and that’s just another thing stressing me out besides all of this running.
It’s that time again.
Time to start actually running on a schedule to train for a marathon. For the past two years I have signed up for a marathon on my birthday, a gift to myself you could say. Last year that gave me too little time to train, resulting in a subpar race time (though I finished the damn thing, so that’s something). Last year was about setting a huge goal for myself and getting it done. Too much of my Sophomore year was spent wallowing and thinking that I couldn’t get anything done that I set my mind to. This year, the marathon I signed up for, the Detroit Marathon, is not until October 21st. So that gives me, let’s see, eighteen weeks to train. A good amount. And this year, I’m running to pay attention to my body, to see what it can do, to make sure I treat it right. Especially after this last quarter’s drinking, poor eating habits and lack of sleep. And I’d like to improve last year’s time by an hour. Once again I’ll be running with my friend from Connecticut. She’ll be graduated and working, I’ll be stressed out about SIP stuff I’m sure. But this marathon will be something I’m going to look forward to, take a break for, and just go out and do. And hopefully do well at.
Let me just start out by saying that this song is not something I would normally post. But today, coming home from working, flipping through about 6 radio stations, because for some reason, they all get fuzzy (NPR you fail me), this song came on. ”Ridin’ Solo.” And I think it’s a good precursor/theme song for this weekend. Because a little less than a year ago I was a shit show (in the sad sense, not the drunk sense) and those that know me know why.
Leaving for Vermont in the morning. And Sunday morning, at 7:30 am I’ll be starting out on a 26.2 mile personal journey (scuse me for the cornball metaphor). Because I know it’ll hurt by mile 17. And I know it’ll be hot. And I know I’ll want to stop at some points but I want to push on. If I’ve learned anything this past year it’s to not doubt myself and to stop giving up. I’ve spent too much time being a pessimistic, sometimes sorta depressed person and I’m tired of feeling that way. I know it won’t go away. There’s no off switch. I’ve just realized that I need to stop telling myself I can’t do things. I’m tired of the pain I’ve caused myself. So, I’m ridin’ solo. So what. I’ve gained more important things in my life in the past year than a boyfriend. Self-confidence (somewhat). A wonderful, loving group of friends that honestly helped me more than they know. The ability to say, ya know what, fuck it, I’m gonna get drunk and allow myself to have a good time. The ability to allow myself to dance without being drunk. Knowing what missing love feels like. Knowing what a different kind of love feels like. Realizing that fewer and fewer triggers, to none, bring me back to what’s no longer.
Basically, this marathon is me showing myself what I’ve got. I’ll probably be crying at that finish line, whether it be from pain or happiness. But I’m happy right now. I love what I’ve learned and the pain from last summer has gone away. He told me then to think of myself in a year.
Well hell, I’m liking where I’m at.
Four more days! I promise no more running posts afterward. At least significantly fewer.
After the marathon is over next weekend, I’ll be happy to allow myself to drink coffee again. The coffee cravings are especially bad at work. Water’s great, but after the next week of trying to restrict my beverages to water, I might be a little sick of it. Anyways, one week countdown. Motivation to run 8 miles today? Not really there.