It is fascinating how running parallels life. Maybe that’s why it has such a pull on me. For two years I have been trapped in a cycle of injury and victory. I fought my way back to running after a stress fracture, bursitis and the through the constant struggle of running with FAI and the consequent labral tear. I became aware of its existence back in 2012, after which I finished two more Ironmans and three more marathons. Sometimes it boggles my mind, how I can sit impatiently through seasons of being sidelined and emerge a stronger runner! But what really makes me shake my head in disbelief is this: How I am utterly convinced while I am on the sidelines that this, THIS is really the end of my running?!
Every damn time! This past sabbatical from running was no different. Possibly the worst case of woefully declaring “This is the END” and accepting that. As if I had learned zero from my past experience with injury. So as I emerge a healthier runner yet again, I am determined to emerge a wiser runner too! I’ve learned a little more than ZERO this time. Such as
- It’s not a tragic cycle, it’s an upward spiral! Injury cycles have been my traditional way of looking at it. Setbacks that I couldn’t afford. A curse I am stuck in like that sock that gets stuck in your washing machine and goes through about 14 rinse cycles! But my amazing life coach-turned dear friend Alexis taught me to look at struggles as upward spirals instead. Sure they resemble cycles, but there is a progress to an upward spiral that implies growth if we are pliable! So when you feel like you are going no where… Upward spiral me dear!
- You NEED a break! More than once a sabbatical, break or season on the sidelines has been exactly what I needed, even though it was excruciatingly painful. I finally understand that sometimes the very thing we love can be the source of our greatest heartache. If you could preserve and restore that relationship by taking a break, would you do it? I was convinced that this break from running was a break up. But during that two months that I spent mourning, my body was healing from what at times has been a painful relationship, at others, a great source of joy! I was forced into taking a break and fully prepared to move on from running. Yet that very act restored my relationship with sport and I emerged a stronger runner!
- Sometimes a break is just… a break! How I am utterly convinced while I am on the sidelines that this, THIS is really the end?! As I ran back toward the 787 overpass today in my second race of the season, cheering for runners on their way to the turn around, it struck me how absurd it is to believe that A BREAK = THE END! Occassionally it is. But since the very thing we love can be the source of our greatest heartache, a break can often be powerfully restorative, and usher in a new chapter in our relationships, in running and in life!
This medal is my reminder that sometimes a break is simply that… a break. A space to heal. A method to preserve and restore that relationship, and return to it stronger.
Keep hoping for the impossible. The End does not have to be The End!
So about that race today!
Ok, a few fun facts and highlights from the actual Icebreaker Challenge 5k:
My friend Virginia, who I met through training with Seth at AMF, invited me to this 5k. And she PRd! Congratulations Virginia! It was fun to see Andy Ruiz there at the Start line, and out there in the lead pack! No surprise that he won his age group. A big congrats to Andy! I’ve never done this 5k before, but I did have “speedwork” on my training plan for this weekend, and nothing says speedwork like a fast, flat 5k. And since I am a sucker for any race that has a cause, I appreciate that this one of a kind Capital District running/walking road race challenged runners against rowers from the Albany Rowing Center. “Runners/walkers travel along the Corning Preserve Bicycle Path while rowers from the Albany Rowing Center will race along side in shells on the Hudson River.”
A highlight was seeing the rowers actually out there despite temps of 36 degrees! Cold rain is kind of the worst, but it did let up for the duration of the race, which made for ideal running conditions. Another bonus: This race was only a 5 minute drive from my house, on a course that I know like the back of my hand from running down at the Corning Preserve so much!
I was impressed by the turn out in less than ideal weather, met some really hearty runners out there today, and was reminded once again how much I love being part of the running community! Races feel like family reunions to me! My goal was to run a solid 7:00 pace, which I wasn’t certain my hip or heart would allow. But I aim high 🙂
I went out at what felt like a comfortable fast-twitch pace, but pulled on the reigns when my split for Mile 1 came back as a 6:59 pace. That’s when the other lead woman pulled away. I had to let her, knowing that this early on, her 6:40 pace was not sustainable. She was about 12 so I didn’t feel too bad about backing off! At a 6:58 pace, Mile 1 to 2 felt uncomfortable, but not painful.
With plenty of other runners on my heels (among them some fast ladies) the only way I was backing off is if I felt pain. I didn’t, and opted for really digging deep on that last mile. 6:50 pace deep. I relished that feeling of wanting to puke, while also fearing my lungs would burst from trying to suck in oxygen all the way to the Finish line at the Boathouse. But that was incomparable to the way my heart felt while I was running… We needed some space, but we’ve been reunited and it feels so good!