Hip Pain

Well, I didn’t run my marathon this year.

But I did manage to win every race I ran this season. I surprised myself. Racing does that to you.

“Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else. It’s the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs, and the voice inside you that yells, “I CAN’T.” But you don’t listen, you just push harder. And then you hear the voice whisper “I CAN” and you discover the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are.”

I learn that every race. And the funny thing is that in hindsight I can’t remember any of it… not the ache, nor the sweat, nor the moment on that half marathon when I really thought I might just prefer to crawl up that last hill in mile 12.

But there is a nagging hip pain… Not real pain, not “lay me up and I can’t work out pain”… but “stand up from my desk and slightly wince pain”…

And that little pain reminds me of everything I put into it. I came out of this running season a different person – as I do after every race. I am stronger. And yet all the effort that goes into it and the determination required and the self-knowledge attained doesn’t come at no cost… There is a nagging hip almost-pain… which reminds me that I did something I didn’t think I could, that I am a different person… And that transformation isn’t always painless.

Disclaimer: I have consulted a medical professional on the hip pain and it nothing to be concerned about.

 

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Humanity

Are you ever left in awe, just by the beauty of humanity?

This morning I ran a 10k, mind you this is me the morning of every race… I wake up thinking – maybe I’ll just take it easy and then…

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Yeah, adrenaline is a powerful thing.

Today’s race was great. I am currently in better shape than I have EVER been in my life – largely due to coaching. I ran a sub seven pace for most of the race easily…

But this course is HILLY. At mile 3.5 I had to tie my shoe. (That has honestly never happened to me before in a race.) I did and a fellow runner caught up to me. We proceeded to pace off of each other for the remainder of the race. As we came up on mile six and we were going up [yet another] hill, he waved me on. He waved me on again as we neared the finish.

He finished a few seconds ahead of me, and turned around and gave me a huge hug after I crossed.. (And then puked… But not on him…)

And you see, the thing is all this change, I’ve spent a lot of time asking myself what life is all about… What am I here for? Slowing down and learning to relax for perhaps the first time in my life. (More on that another time.)… has made me stop and think. But when you contemplate the beauty of humanity like I saw in my pacer friend this morning, you see the meaning that life has.

So, no… I’m not a girl who has struggled with an eating disorder that has turned into a running addiction.

My running is in check.

My doctor has approved my running.

My therapist has approved my running. (Okay ex-therapist because I’m on an approved break from that too.)

My spiritual director has approved my running.

And I run as a part of my recovery… because EVERY SINGLE TIME I RUN I discover something more about the beauty of this life, about my own body, about my capacities, about my determination, about team, and about humanity.

Today I learned something through this stranger who paced me and encouraged me. He helped me – not only to complete this race and win first overall for women. He helped me to discover a little by more of what life is all about.

Personal Records

The feeling of soreness is one of the greatest feelings I know.

It is odd how the only moment I don’t feel like running is right before a race. I love to race, but there is a lot of mental energy that goes into racing that is exhausting. It is in racing that the inner argument between “I can’t give any more” and “push just a little harder” takes place. It is the argument of life.

The thing about racing is that it is the one place where my perfectionism doesn’t come in. Sure, I love to win. It is a great feeling. But the fact of the matter is that every time I win, I am shocked. I never expect to win. I never think I’m good enough to win. It isn’t about winning. And it isn’t even about achieving a PR. It is simply about giving my best on that day. It is about pushing just a little further than I thought I could.

And isn’t that what life is all about? It is about giving your best, not to win, but to be the best version of yourself.

Saturday was a great day… but COLD! It is funny how 45 degrees in January feels balmy and right now 45 degrees is enough to send me packing to the gym.

At 25 minutes to the race they shut down main street. Cue me arriving to the start line with just enough time to shove my earbuds in my ears and take off.

I was in the lead since the beginning… 5 overall, 1st woman. That was it, mile one. I crept up to 4th overall after the second mile and that was it. It is an odd feeling being in first that quickly. It confirmed that racing isn’t about winning. It is about doing my best.

I did set a PR for a 10k – 7:09 pace, 44:27. I am happy. But not because I won, or even because I defended my title. I am happy because as I worked my way up that final of four crazy hills and I felt like I had nothing left, I visualized the strength and muscles in my legs. I pushed. And I achieved something I didn’t think I could do.

I don’t know how many PR’s I have left in me. But I do know that, God willing, I have a lot of races left in me. And each one is its own personal record – a personal record of mental strength and determination.

As I came down the second hill I ┬áremembered this race three years ago, a week after my therapist told me I need to stop running. I had held off as much as I could all week, but I was already signed up for the race. It was after that race, that I went back to her and told her that I couldn’t ┬ástop running and we needed to find another way around it. Sure, running and eating disorders can be contradictory. But I am running my way to recovery. Because each time I run, I discover something new about myself. Each time I run I discover an inner strength which is greater than I ever imagined. Each time I run, I get to know myself better.

Personal records are not times, they are mile markers of moments when you taught yourself something new about yourself.

And right now every time I go up or down the stairs and I feel the soreness in my muscles, I am reminded of what an incredible day Saturday was, and what a great things that soreness represents.

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2 for 2

So I’m 2 for 2 on not running the races I’ve signed up for this year… The marathon because I will be out of the country. The Holy Half at Notre Dame this morning because we couldn’t make it there because of the snow last night… Which I felt better about when it got called off due to weather this morning.

I’m relieved. I needed a day to sleep in and veg in my sweats.

I’m also dreading the long run on my own that I need to get in today. Not dreading the run… Dreading the fact that I will do it on a treadmill. I’m DONE with running in the snow. Luckily it looks like the weather may finally turn next week.

March came up with 86 miles despite the fact that I only got one long run in.

It is a good thing I dropped out of the marathon. I don’t have time for the long runs.

But I have to get one in today because I’ll be traveling again next weekend.

So I’ve read a few articles this week about cheating in racing. The woman who is permanently banned from the Boston Marathon for giving her bib to someone else and using that person’s time to qualify for the next year’s race. The woman from what it seems cut the course in Canada’s Ironman. I rarely have time to read an article in its totality (much less blog)… But I found myself riveted. I can’t imagine what would motivate someone to do that. (But then again I also know when I make mistakes I often find myself incomprehensible.) But I am not here to question them, what I did find myself focusing on is my love for the run.

We are racing against ourselves. That was the point I loved in the Miller article. That is what I love about the longer distances. I know it is highly unlikely that I would win. 5ks and 10ks – there is a possibility of winning and I’ve won my fair share. Winning is a great feeling. But more than winning I like the feeling of challenging myself, pushing myself to the limit, pushing myself farther than I thought I could, feeling free, feeling strong, feeling powerful.

That is what I why I run. That is why my run today will be great – even on a treadmill in the gym. Because that feeling goes with me not matter where I run. (I’ll just miss the race day adrenaline.)

I don’t want to be better than everyone else. I want to be my best. And that is what I learning by running.

 

How I learned to quit… by never giving up…

Don’t be a baby, don’t quit.

Quitters can’t be choosers.

I don’t disagree with any of the messages that we reinforce across the generations about quitting. The truth is that we live in a culture in which people are so often follow their whims or go running at the first sign of a challenge.

I’ve always been known for someone who knows how to get what I want and can do something once I set my mind to do it. I guess that the thing about having an eating disorder. Apparently we are a stubborn and determined lot.

The challenging of recovery was learning to channel that energy and determination towards helping myself, loving myself. I’d spent so much of my time dedicating my energy to fighting for other things. And I had to be taught to reframe the way I think and to fight for myself. I knew my true goals but I didn’t know how to fight for them. And I had to learn how not to give up before a challenge I never could have imagined.

Running became a big part of that… because in running I learned to push myself to do what I didn’t think was possible.

Paradoxically enough, to sign up for my first marathon, I had to know I would be brave enough to quit if I had to.

Yes, you read that right. After all that talk about not giving up, I had to learn to be brave enough to quit? That’s right. Because learning to quit was a product of learning how to never give up.

I learned to fight for me, not for perfection.

Quitting a marathon, that’s not quitting. Rather it is deciding to continue fighting for myself.

Two weeks ago I had to come to grips with the fact that I won’t be able to run my marathon in May. The fact is I need to fly to Italy that evening and after reading a few articles and knowing how exhausted I will be (and how alert I need to be for the event I’m attending in Italy) I decided the risk of blood clots associated with the long flight isn’t worth it. It took me about 48 hours to accept. But finally despite being in the best shape I’ve been in my life, I had to decide to quit my marathon.

Between you and me, it is a blessing in disguise. I am going to be traveling nearly every weekend for the next two months. And the fact of the matter is I was already getting burnt out even before I started my intense training.

I’m bummed but there will be more marathons.

Above all I’m proud of myself. Because this lesson about quitting… I could only learn it by refusing to give up.

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Criminal Fears

I have a small obsession with Criminal Minds. It both terrifies me and thrills me. My roommate of years past forbade me to watch it if she wasn’t in the room because I would end up screaming.

This morning I thought nothing of getting a quick little run in before heading to the airport for my flight back home. Two quick miles… unsatisfying but better than nothing. I told myself the crazy hills of Atlanta make it count like three miles.

Did I mention it was four AM? Which means my body time it was three AM. After four hours of sleep. (Which breaks my rule of getting enough sleep before a run but travel days are an exception.)

The area of Atlanta I was running in was safe. Until I got about a mile out and considered that for a psychopath all I has to do was be present to trigger them.

Way. too. much. Criminal. Minds.

Did I mention my mile back was a full minute faster than my mile out?

Walking Takes Too Long

So there is this challenge out there: 2016 miles in 2016.

Yeah, not happening. I could probably drive 2016 miles. (Ok, I’ll drive way more than that.)

But I would like to break 1000 miles in 2016.

Which, thank you El Nino, global warming, or whatever you are… I’m feeling much more optimistic about after 92 miles in January! I got in three really good long outdoor runs – wrapping up the month with 10 miles this past Saturday.

Marathon training officially begins in March. So I’m trying to steadily increase my mileage so I’m ready to start training. That means – getting to bed earlier, so I can get up earlier… Not doing too great on that front.

My first waking thought this morning as I stared at my alarm was, “I should be in my car right now.”

So sleep has become a new goal. (Which also means leaving work earlier and not procrastinating on homework… which means being more productive during the day… which has me wondering why I’m blogging right now!)

I’m excited to train for the marathon, but having to put this much thought into my running is a little frustrating. I don’t like planning to run or calculating how far or how fast. (But I do like adding up the miles at the end of the month!) This process of getting ready for this next marathon is already teaching me so much about myself… about forming more self-discipline in my daily life, about knowing when on Sunday I need to just nap on the couch and leave the to-do list to collect dust on the kitchen table, about pursuing a goal every single day… because if I want to qualify for Boston than everything I do does count.

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“I’ll never know how far I can go unless I try.”

In January I made it up to at least 2 miles each day. (Meaning I also managed to get myself out of bed five minutes earlier than previous months.) Except Thursdays, for some reason Thursdays must have been hard to wake up.

By the end of February I want to get up to 3-5 miles a day and add more cross training.

Here’s to the trip along the way!