Monday, February 28, 2011

The choice

Running in and of itself isn't very complicated. You pretty much put one foot in front of the other and propel your body forward. So, why at times does running seem so complicated and so emotional? From anguish to exhilaration, running causes me a range of emotions. And oddly enough this assortment can sometimes happen in one day.

I can remember countless times where running has brought me joy. Those memories are often ones of victory or of a special time I shared with a friend. I distinctly remember the first run I did with my now husband, Tim. We have shared many a run since then but that first one will probably be a favorite forever. I can also remember running a PR in the 10K in California like it was yesterday. I felt so fast and fit and like I was just flying with nothing holding me back. I remember winning my first race in high school, and the shock I felt when no one passed me back. I also have more memories of long runs with my dad, talking about anything and everything just because we could.

On the other hand, I remember crying at the state track meet my senior year of high school because high school running was over. Another time running has brought me to tears was in Massachusetts when I ran the Falmouth Road Race. I had traveled all the way from Colorado to the east coast only to have one of the worst races I can remember having (at least up to that point). I was devastated for days and had a hard time putting things into perspective and had to have many a pep talk from my coach, my training partners and my husband before I got over that race. I remember having meltdowns, where the only emotion I felt was anger and my usual calm, un-dramatic demeanor was replaced with drama-queen like behavior where I resorted to throwing things.

Over the past few days I have been feeling that same despair, hurt and anger. This time it didn’t end in throwing objects, but rather made me analyze if running was worth the hurt. Not because of a bad race but because I felt like I faced a ultimatum—to “retire” or to hang in there. No matter what I do and how much I try to take care of my body things seem to fall apart. Training is going well and then, BAM!!, my asthma starts up again after a 9 year hiatus, or I am 90 seconds into a race and “POW” my leg seizes up thus forcing me to stop, or I start feeling awful and after blood work discover that my ferritin is low….and the list could go on. But I realized something today while I was trying to figure out if this pain, anguish and heartache was really worth it…and then I started thinking about all the positive things running has brought me. I have met more friends, visited more neat places and learned more about myself over the past 20 years. Was I really ready to throw that all away because I felt despair over my physical inadequacies that kept causing training to come to a abrupt halt? No. Part of running and choosing this path is to accept all the hard parts of this sport. It also helped me remember that when things aren’t good for so long, a good race or an enjoyable run will be so much sweeter. And those moments that haven’t happened but I know will, are memories that I am not willing to sacrifice even when things get hard.

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