“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” ~Frank A. Clark
I truly believe that I had created a perfect bubble in my life with all my cycling and a “small” sprinkling of running and swimming… Cycling kept me sane enough to both live my life and continue to incorporate the smattering of training in the other two sports.
Approximately 10+ weeks ago I dropped a bomb in my life and upended everything that I knew to be right and good… Marathon training.
I no longer know which way is up and which way is down, all I know is that I have to run to get there.
Running has quite literally TAKEN OVER my life. Everything I do (even my damn vacation) has to be planned around how many miles I have to run on what day.
Monday is a rest day.
Tuesday is a track workout day.
Wednesday is a normal run day.
Thursdays is either a hills training day or a group run day. (They alternate)
Friday is a rest day.
Saturday is hell day (aka LONG slow run day).
Sunday is a normal run day.
REPEAT. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.
Nowhere in that schedule is there a mention of a cycling day. Not even a horrid swim day for that matter. Hell, there’s not even the mention of a “you’re a mom and you have to take care of kids in here somewhere” day. Not to mention a “you have to adult and work a job to pay for all these asinine races you keep registering for” day.
Why. Do. I. Do. This.
I have destroyed my comfort zone with the decision to train for a marathon. I have erased the one activity that keeps me grounded from my once “normal” schedule. Sure, I could try and ride on my rest days or do it in addition to running on other days (if there were 70 hours in a day) but running makes me tired. Spending hours upon hours on my feet makes me want to fall asleep on my desk at work, in the shower, driving, living life… My feet hurt all the time; they are basically two big blisters littered with lots of smaller blisters (as I finished writing that sentence I paused writing to pop a ginormous blister that had formed UNDER my big toenail). My hips? We won’t even talk about how much those hurt… Let’s just say that ‘my hips don’t lie,’ the pain has become a normal part of everyday living now, and I have perfected the slanted walk. Marathon training is extremely physically taxing on the human body but the toll it takes on the mind is even bigger…
I did this to myself.
I need to ride. I need the open road. I need to feel the headwind push against me. I need to struggle against the climb of the hills. I need to feel the whoosh of the passing cars. I need to experience the complicatingly uncomplicated. I need Princesa. I need to think. I need to clear my mind. I need to find my balance. I need to be.
I did this to myself.
They say that only 1% of the world’s population has ever finished a marathon… I am starting to think that it’s because the other 99% are actually smart/sane/rational/normal/insert other synonyms here.
I did this to myself.
I run and most days I am not sure why I am doing it even though I know the deep, underlying reason for the “why am I doing it” question. I want to be an Ironman. But I would be flat out lying if I said that doubt doesn’t enter my mind all the damn time, every damn run actually.
Doubt truly is one hell of a thing… It can drive even the most determined person to the ground. And doubt has been doing one hell of a number on me lately. The disarray that marathon training has caused in my life and the further my training keeps me away from cycling, the more the uncertainty grows inside my mind. I question everything about my ability to meet the goals I have set for myself. “Just finishing” is NOT enough for me, I want to beat Oprah. Oprah finished a marathon in 4:29:15 at a 10:16/mile pace. (Whoever thought SHE would be the mark that so many people aim for when stepping up to the start line??) Every time that I go out on a long run, I question my life decisions including, but not limited to, my decision to do this stupid marathon in the first place, whether I have what it takes to “just” finish, and whether I will be able to hit the mark that I have set for myself. Every time I fall into this uncertainty line of thinking, I have the same answer for myself… I just don’t know. It doesn’t matter how many people tell me I can, how much they remind me of previous obstacles I have overcome in my athletic endeavors, or how much other logic they try to dump on me because I keep going back to “I just don’t know.”
There is such a mental piece that goes with endurance sports that, as soon as that starts to wax and wane, everything else seems to so easily crumble down too. No matter how much I may know that I CAN do it, the exhaustion coupled with the lack of life balance strips my mental game and opens the door for uncertainty to strut right in. So many hours are spent out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but time to think and think and think some more… Thinking about life, about pain, about relationships, about wants, about needs, about desires, about past failures, about past successes, about the future, about anything and everything in between. Too much thinking. Entirely. Too. Much.
So many times I have wanted to quit, to give up, to stop running, to sit down, to not do this marathon, to change my name, to change my phone number, to disappear from all my bad ass athlete friends, to sit on a couch and eat ice cream for the rest of my life and never workout again…
I did this to myself.
And yet, I KEEP GOING, despite AND IN SPITE of the pain, the exhaustion, the disarray, and the uncertainty.
As much as I want to stop/quit/give up, I don’t know how to. The train has left the station and, for whatever godforsaken reason, it can’t be stopped. I keep going… one damn foot in front of the other, one run after the other, one minute after the next. I need my mental game back and that is so very hard for me to achieve without my best coping skill at my disposal, cycling. As much as I want to be on my bike, I can’t so I roll with the punches life is continuing to throw. I have to learn how to bob and weave in a new fashion…
Marathon training is forcing me to dig deeper than I have ever had to dig before to find my strength, to find my sense of determination. It is forcing me to grow and change. It is forcing me to leave my comfort zone. It is forcing me to put down the previous idea I had of myself and create a new self-image; a new stronger, more relentless me.
Some days the doubt becomes overwhelming and brings me to the brink of breaking. But I haven’t broken yet. I won’t break. I can’t break. I don’t know how to break.
I am ten weeks into my training with six more to go. I keep reminding myself, “I have survived this whole time, I can certainly survive the rest.” I have pushed my body to the brink before and I can do it again. My body will keep going as long as I keep pushing it.
Why do I do this to myself? Because this is me. Because this is who I am. Because I am not a quitter. I will not stop running, swimming, cycling. I will not sit down. I will not disappear on to a couch with a tub of ice cream (well, maybe I will for a little while because ice cream is yum). I will keep pushing. I will keep challenging myself. I will keep aiming for bigger and better goals. I will keep working to be just as big a badass as all the badasses I have surrounded myself with. I will keep moving. I will keep being. I will keep rolling with the punches. I will keep digging deep. I will keep finding that extra reserve of confidence no matter where it is hidden. I will keep changing. I will keep adapting.
I do this to myself because I can.
“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha