I’ve seen a theme amongst my fellow runner blogger friends: time to check out, recover, regroup, and refocus. I too took a time out when I chose not to be a pacer for a local training team this past fall. While I absolutely loved being a pacer, and met some fantastic people and friends along the way, my body had grown weary after four full seasons of non-stop training. I had taken a hiatus from marathon training since October 2015, but it didn’t seem to be enough. It was excruciatingly clear that I was in need of a personal time out when I crossed the finish line of the Norfolk Harbor Half in November 2016 with both hamstrings literally seizing up to the point it was a challenge to even walk to get my Gatorade and banana. I remember practically collapsing on the floor of the team tent, sobbing uncontrollably, unable to speak, trying to massage those too tight hamstrings back to some normal feeling instead of the shooting, sharp pains I was feeling. I was so mentally and physically drained that I refused medical help, and just laid on the floor. It was a confusing moment for me, my teammates, and my two best friends, who had never seen me succumb to the pain and emotions rolling through my body. It was then and there I decided, enough is enough. I need a break from goals, from running, from pushing past the pain and tightness, from the lack of rest and recovery. I ended up taking nearly 6 weeks off from running altogether. I had zero urge to lace up my shoes. I wasn’t envious of the runners I saw alongside the road. My heart had hardened to the sport I have loved and done my entire life. I clearly needed a vacation from the hard work I demanded of my body weekly, and a chance to recharge. I slept more than I ever thought I could. I ate well, and splurged on a sweet or two. I spent time with friends and family. I played with Murphy way more than usual, and enjoyed his cuddles, his antics on our double walks, and his puppy kisses. I refocused. As 2016 came to a close, I found myself at home in New York, with family. It wasn’t until the second to last day before I headed back to the beach that I reached for my phone and texted my best friend. “Why did I leave my running gear at home? I want my running shoes!” I knew then that I was ready to run.
Once I returned to the beach, I got my running gear out and insisted on a run with my best friend on the trails asap. It was a fun, exhilarating, semi- warm run, and just what I needed to jumpstart my training for Grandma’s Marathon in June 2017. Grandma’s Marathon was looking for someone to write a short paragraph of advice for new marathon runners, and I opted to submit some words to be considered. Well, not only was I chosen, but they used my words of advice in their social media! I was invited to come run Grandma’s Marathon in June, and jumped at the chance to try a second time at tackling the course. As I write this, I am in the second week of taper for this very race. This will be the first time in 20 months that I have run a marathon. My body knew what was coming as I tackled mile after mile, trail after trail, and bridge repeats weekly. My mind has been challenged as I remind myself constantly I can do this, but the negatives and doubts still creep in. I remind myself that bridge repeats are my favorite, and I feel strong every time I reach the crest of the bridge. I think about how each time I nail a negative split run I hit the save button on my Garmin with a smile on my face because I finished strong. I think about how each long run has been a challenge, but I haven’t backed down even when I puked up my chomps and had a throbbing headache. I knew those were minor setbacks, and my body proved capable and able to push forward to complete the runs. I learned that when I focus on someone else, I can run through the doubts rolling through my mind. I’ve learned that when I acknowledge things on my runs that make me happy, and smile, that I instantly feel a little more perky.
I’ve learned that marathon training isn’t about the time on the clock for me. It’s about feeling strong, capable, and running for those who no longer can. This will be Marathon number ten for me, and I will be running it for my parents. Both have had their own struggles and successes. Both can no longer run. I hope my mom will be watching from the heavens above. And I hope my dad will be able to recognize my voice through the fog of his advanced Multiple Sclerosis, and be as excited as I am when I call him when I’m done. I hope my stepdad will be just as happy as me to know that I also will run for him because he’s been just as much of a supporter and cheerleader in this running journey as anyone else!
Grandma’s Marathon, I am coming for you in 12 days, and believe me when I say, I’m strong and I’m ready to kick your asphalt!
#grit #gmas17 #runforthosewhocant #skirtsportsambassador