I finished a 5K today. Not a race, a distance and a hurdle.
Last weekend was the Shamrock Shuffle. This week was the Lincoln Half Marathon. The South Shore Half Marathon was today. The Cary Half is over. Four weeks until the Wisconsin Half. I won't be able to run the Wisconsin Half like I wanted. It's coming too soon and I am recovering too slowly. I normally gauge my year on the race calendar. I've been a little taken aback about how fast it has passed me by. I found myself sad about it.
This winter I have been in PT, and I needed to be there. How I was running was not sustainable. Weaknesses in some places were showing up in others. My feet and ankles were locking. Tight calves. Painful tendons. Picking up marbles with my toes was difficult and painful. Little muscles I willed to work did not move.
And as I've seen friends post training, races and successes, I felt left behind. I'm not looking for pity. I'm just emoting. This winter has been a winter I really needed running. It is one thing to do a litany of exercises in your living room and another thing to run outside under the open sky. I do have some degree of SAD and running through the winter has always helped. The snow-cold-snow sandwich all winter long took its toll.
We've also been in the process of an adoption. The flurry of paperwork, the hurry up and wait, and the bureaucracy is numbing. I can't tell you all the details at the moment, but we are on the roller coaster portion, and I don't think I'm strapped in tight enough. Off balance and queasy. I've needed the run.
There is other paperwork from classes to grants to applications to more classes that have bogged me down. I go to bed thinking about what I still have to do and wake up with a list in hand. A run has typically cleared my head. This post came together on my run. I work through stuff on my run.
Our homeschool group temporarily dissolved this Spring. We no longer meet three times a month. I miss my running friends. I can't run with them. I work most nights, and I hate the phone. It's been a lonely winter. I see friends, but not with the same regularity. It takes more effort, and I'm already tired.
Somewhere along the way, I've also lost trust in myself as a runner. I feel weak and soft. I gave up gluten this year too. Then I went back on and discovered I should probably stay off. On the plus side I have a lot of new recipes and can drink coffee for the first time in my life. I haven't gained much weight, but I've lost muscle and endurance. Doing my large muscle exercises now after working on my small muscles shows me how much I've lost.
I sound depressed. It was depressing at times. For so long, running, not just physical exercise, has been my body's balance. Being physically tired as well as mentally tired helps me sleep. Being truly hungry rather than emotionally hungry helps me distinguish between the two. The outdoors reminds me that the world is bigger than the one I've constructed inside my head. Starting back at the beginning of anything is humbling, and if it teeters on humiliating it is even harder to begin again.
I've been encouraged along the way too. Matt Long's book, The Long Run, is so very inspirational. The president of our running club, Lupe, was nice enough to get me his autograph when she was at the Boston Marathon a few years ago.I keep it by my bed. It says, "Long May You Run." Matt was one of the first responders at 911, and he was also was in a horrible horrible accident. He scars are real, and his journey to a new normal was raw. I love it when people chose to be amazing.
During another point where I was throwing myself a pity party for healing so slowly I read about Sally Kipyego, the 2012 Olympian, and her slow but steady recovery. She won the Silver medal in the 10,000 meter and when she started back from her foot fracture she ran one minute and walked 10 minutes. Like in Chutes and Ladders, she went down the big slide and had to start the long slow steady journey back. Her quote. "You let your body tell you. It will let you know exactly what's happening" encouraged me to listen and lay low until the time was right. To be a better listener.
Running is different now. I can't relax and enjoy it. I pay attention to my foot fall, almost every strike. My feet have to roll differently now. It takes time to build muscle memory, to break old habits and to build new ones. How about my calves? Are they too tight? What are my ankles doing? Knees? Quads? Back? Push off? I realized I couldn't run very long because I can't hold my form properly for any more than a short distance. I am constantly listening.
Next week may be my last week of PT and my physical therapist, who is great, told me I could do three miles. I wasn't sure I could do it. What if I couldn't? One step forward and two steps back. Sometimes the fear of success has to be overcome. I texted two friends to see if they would run with me. Running with other runners would be another victory on the journey. However, they were unavailable. I had to put my shoes on and prove myself to myself.
It was a beautiful day. The sun. The wind. My focus on my stride. Occasionally forgetting about my stride. Focusing again on my stride.Wondering about my stubbornness to do some exercises. My tunes. Enjoying Beck's "Loser" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believing". Skipping Pink's "Let's Get This Party Started." This run was no party. Around mile two I heard fatigue getting closer and had to work on keeping proper stride. Katy Perry's "Roar." A friend on a walk tried to start a conversation with a quarter mile to go, and I had to wave her off. This run was important, and it was important for me to finish. I've been contemplating signing up for a 5K, but I had to prove to myself that I could run that distance. A comeback race. This was a comeback run.
I finished my 5K in about 34 minutes, and I cried. I cried in my cool-down walk. I have to do those now as well as a warm-up walk. I must have looked like a hot mess walking home. I was a hot mess with my chin up. It was a cry that bubbled up from a place that was healing too. A victory. A renewed trust.