In the past I’ve run several endurance races. One full marathon and quite a few half marathons. Nothing else, save birthing my children, has given me such a sense of accomplishment. The success you feel when you overcome yourself, when your spirit commands your body! I was ready to feel that again and began to contemplate lacing up my running shoes.
I've not run a race for a couple of years and was NOT in running shape. In the early spring of this year I dreamed a big dream, or rather set a big goal. I was going to run The Snow Canyon Half Marathon on November 4th 2017 and come in under 2 hours. In the past I’ve come short of this time by just a couple of minutes so while it was a big goal for me I was certain it was possible. I found an accountability partner, rediscovered my dogged determination and set to work. I had a detailed plan. I laid out my weekly mileage with slow and gradual increases week to week that would help me prepare and avoid injury.
Everything was going according to plan until late May when I had a mishap on some stairs and sprained my left foot and ankle pretty badly. This took me out of training for a month and while I was frustrated, I knew I had some cushion in my training schedule and I could still be ready. Thankfully by early July I was back at it. I had revised my training schedule and knew what I had to do to make this happen. I made a vision board, and I believed with my whole heart I was going to cross that line at 1:58:17.
By Labor Day I had worked up to an 8-mile run. I completed it in the morning and then spent the rest of my day with family. The next day I began to feel a deep aching in my lower left leg. I told myself it was going to be fine, but two days later when on the treadmill for some interval runs it felt like I shouldn’t be running on it. I began to think it could possibly be a stress fracture as a deep sports massage didn’t totally clear it up. For the next two weeks, I did 90 minute sessions on the elliptical rather than run to give my leg a chance to heal while still getting in long cardio sessions.
Just as my leg pain started to resolve I came down with a cold. Nothing too major, a late summer/early fall cold. It left me pretty wiped out and tired, but I figured a few days’ rest and I’d be just fine. At this point I was not yet back to running like I needed to be, but I had a plan and would not accept defeat. That Saturday I went out to run and it was pretty much the most pathetic thing ever! I felt like I was starting at the beginning again. I couldn’t run much more than a few minutes before my heart was pounding so hard and fast it felt like my chest was going to explode. I was so angry at my body. Why was it responding this way? For over a week I was completely worthless in the running game. I accepted I had no other choice but to rest and let my body lead out. I was beginning to doubt.
For whatever reason, it took nearly a month before my heart rate responses were finally getting back to normal. This was just last week, but as I felt myself getting stronger again I had renewed hope my goal was still possible. I revised my plan yet again and decided to be brave and bold in the face of possible failure. I was ready to make the 5-hour drive to run a race I was not certain I could run in less than 2 hours but still had hope for. I was daring to keep the dream alive. I ran a few interval sessions last week and was feeling my body coming around. I was determined that if I could do a weekend run of at least 7 miles I was still within striking distance. Last Thursday I decided to do my interval run outside rather than on the treadmill, with the long run to happen on Saturday. Thursday went great! I felt strong and it was an amazing feeling to be able to push myself again. Sadly, by Thursday evening my left knee was beginning to hurt. On Friday, this pain for sure was NOT going away and I made the determination I finally had to cry uncle.
I’ve gone through many emotions since making this decision, or coming to grips with the decision my body made for me. I’ve felt angry, sad, frustrated, disappointed, and a little bit like the elements conspired against me. I’ve thought things like, see, it doesn’t matter what you try, you won’t succeed. You can gut it out and still fall short, so is it worth all this effort? That is my emotional side talking. Then my logical brain kicks in and I begin to think of how much better off I am than I was a few months ago. I also realize that despite this set back, my dream is still alive. I’m not sure why things happened this way, but I do know I control my story. If I choose to shoot for this again, I know through experience I have the strength and capability to see it through. I also remembered something I’ve heard recently. “The journey is for the soul; the summit is for the ego.” Summit moments are remembered and savored, but it’s always the journey that creates and shapes us into something new. With this fresh experience the journey has taken on deeper meaning, and for that I am grateful. So, now I’m switching gears and looking for other challenges to grapple with, but that desire to cross the line and see 1:58:17 overhead still burns unquenched. I'm not ready to give up on that yet.