Each week I’ve gotten stronger, faster and more confident as I’ve worked at getting back into shape.
By late August, I had logged well over a dozen races—many of which I’d run slightly faster than the one before. It was exhilarating.
But then I hit a speed bump.
After running the Ventura Half Marathon in early September and then the She is Beautiful 5K a couple weeks later, with 18 and 20-mile runs in between, along with some tempo runs and track workouts, my body let me know that not only had I taken it too far, I had taken it for granted by ignoring its subtle, yet persistent warning signals.
The aches, “which every runner feels,” I told myself, were never “that bad.” But then those aches suddenly turned into ones that were that bad. With just six weeks to go until my target race—the Santa Barbara Veteran’s Day Marathon—I was forced to put on the brakes as I pushed my foot and back beyond their tipping points.
Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.
Long story short (because I don’t want to bore you with a litany of injury details), the Santa Barbara Marathon did not happen for me. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe my frustration.
YOU IDIOT! I scolded myself, YOU KNOW BETTER! WHEN WILL YOU EVER LEARN?
After beating myself up, then administering several generous doses of chocolate and wine, I finally pulled myself together. I was determined to salvage this marathon, no matter what.
Thus began my 6-week “mega taper,” which involved a whole lot of rest, pool running, cryotherapy and compression sessions, nothing but uber healthy food, extra cushy Hoka shoes, then slowly easing back into short, easy runs on grass with Coach Nash’s guidance.
I tried to convince myself that by not stressing about it and embracing this “mega taper,” I’d at least get myself to the starting line. Eventually though, it became painfully obvious that attempting a full marathon would be stupid in my marginally healed state, and my marginally maintained fitness level. I might have been able to do it (ever so slooowwwly), but I didn’t want to just run another marathon; I wanted to race it.
But here’s the good news (the cup is half full, right?): although I didn’t run the full marathon, I did manage to salvage race day by at least participating in the half marathon. It was not fast (about 8-10 minutes off my goal time) or pretty, but I did get through it, on a very hot day no less, and did cross the finish line with a smile on my face.
That was three weeks ago. I know I should be happy that I ran a half marathon, but I still feel as bland as overcooked broccoli about it, and quite frankly, a little embarrassed about my less than stellar performance. To top it off, my other foot is now wonky, compliments of running the half when perhaps I shouldn’t have. Add a hearty dose of bronchitis on top of it all, and this mama is a little bonkers right now. Make that A LOT bonkers.
We all go through rough patches though. That’s what makes us human. That’s what reminds us to be appreciative and mindful of what we have, when we have it.
It’s kind of like the Tibetan proverb: “Pain exists to measure pleasure.”
I may be bonkers, but I’m not wallowing in a pity party. Nope. Not even close. Instead, I’m relying on the best remedy I know to get through it, especially when I can’t run and dump all my frustrations on the road.
That remedy is to pack my head and heart full of gratitude. It may sound sappy or cliche, but I am one lucky chiquita, and I know it. We’re talking “big picture, over the moon, pinch myself” lucky.
Life has handed me more than my share of gifts so when a minor speed bump comes along, like an injury or an annoying virus, I simply have to remind myself of all the things that make me happy and grateful. It really is that simple.
From people like Mike Swan, PT extraordinaire, who is helping me figure out my aches and getting me back on track to Coach Nash, who has helped me get stronger and fitter all year and who has been more than patient and supportive as I’ve made this journey. My list is long.
Several years ago I actually took the time to write down “A Bazillion Things That Make Me Happy and Grateful,” and it’s something I look at several times a year to remind myself how profoundly lucky I am. Click on the link above (it’s on my other blog) if you want to know what makes me dizzyingly happy.
Until next time…this mama is counting her blessings, working on getting 100% healthy, and recharging for all the fun that lies ahead! So tell me, what packs your heart full of gratitude?