Running it all away. A lesson in strength and endurance.Posted: 2011/06/25
This morning I ran my first race since the mini (13.1) that The Husband and I completed in early May. I wasn’t always a runner, metaphorically or physically. Sure I’ve run away from my share of bad situations or problems but in general my nature is to dig my heels in and force you to try to break me..good luck. MiniMe and The Destroyer have both inherited this stubborn streak. As insane as it drives me sometimes I often can’t help but be proud of them. May their road be much smoother than mine, but if it isn’t they are more than well equipped for the fight. I ran cross country one season in High School because I was trying to get into Harvard and I wanted a Varsity letter to go with my stellar GPA and other extra curricular activities. I was not athletically inclined. Running seemed like something I could do enough to get by. I wasn’t very good at it and the team was fairly haphazard and motley for my inner city public school, but I got that letter. It didn’t get me into Harvard though. My Dad told me there was no way I could run 3 miles when I presented him with the permission slip and he wasn’t going to sign it. I faked his signature and ran anyway, asshole, may he rest in peace.
When I found myself on the floor in absolute pure grief after PJ vanished, The Husband suggested I should run. He had taken up running over the summer after he moved out and was set to run his first 5 mile race the next month. He said it had been very therapeutic for him and that “you cannot cry while running”. My main coping mechanisms so far had been only chemical and I had already lost about ten pounds from Spring to Summer on my “Divorce Diet” . I figured what the heck. PJ ran away, so I’d run too. Only in a very different way.
Running was a hobby we could share, we had never shared a hobby before. We were not actively getting back together during this time, I was WAY too broken and angry and confused. And even though The Husband never stopped fighting for me once he started actually fighting for me, even he could tell that time needed to pass before true conversations could happen about reconciliation.
So I started to run on the treadmill at the local Y while listening to music. And he was right, you can shed a few tears while running (I’m sure almost all runners have been there). But you cannot have the ugly gut wrenching sobbing snotty nosed and sore throat keening crying that I had become so familiar with on those first very dark weeks after the implosion of all my dreams for the future. Running is GOOD for you. It’s good for you body, it makes it stronger because it is a struggle against itself to be stronger. Running makes you stronger emotionally because all that stress and anger and sadness can be let go while running. Running is an emotional battle in your head with yourself sometimes. Running is pure. Nothing but you in your head and your breath and your body and the road or treadmill. And the thing is I do my best thinking and non thinking while running. If you are pushing yourself mentally and physically there is only the run in your head. If you want to run better, faster, longer it is YOURSELF you are battling. I screamed on runs…get out..go away… fuck you..I can do this.. to ALL of those negative and hurtful thoughts that would pop into my head. There is no shame on a run, anger only serves to push me further. And at the end of a good run, and most of the “bad” ones there is only calm and peace and pride. I was running all of that hurt and anger and shame off of me.. I was getting rid of PJ and all his poison one brutal mile at a time, little by little getting stronger and happier and more centered. I ran in the ice and snow to train for the half marathon in May. And then in February I was injured, stress fracture in my third metatarsal of my right foot. I would spend the next 6-8 weeks unable to run. This was at first emotionally devastating. So there were some weeks of whining and wallowing and a few pity parties thrown by me for me. And then I decided I would do what needed to be done and I was still running that 13.1 no matter if i had to crawl across that finish line. So I did my long “runs” on cross trainers and ellipticals and I pushed the foot and had to back off because it wasn’t ready yet. The kept to what Dr. Hate (I’m sure he loves to hate me, I have yelled at the man more than once) said I could do mileage wise. Then race day came and hubby stayed with me even though he could of finished much faster and we finished in under 3 hours. I was actually able to run most of the first 10.5 miles in spite of my longest pavement run being about 5. This was my first long race and I figured at the end of it I’d be sobbing and crying and all emotional about the journey and how it started. But it didn’t end like that. There was only peace and pride and strength, and sweaty stinky tired bodies.
This morning’s 5K run was with a training program friend from the mini. We ran into her near the start line and after big hugs and catching up she and I started out together while The Husband and kids ran the 2 mile Family Walk 5 minutes behind us. We had a 5k to complete and it was being held in the same neighborhoods that we trained in all that ice and snow and rain over the winter/spring. We joked about if we would be running on “F/T” the extra few streets we always dreaded on our training routes in the beginning when the going was harder. I haven’t run much since finishing that 13.1 and hoped to finish in under 39. My buddy politely requested to run on ahead about mile 2 and of course I said “yes go on get it girl, I’ll see you at the end”. RunKeeper had me crossing the finish line in the 38 minute and I haven’t check official results yet because I met my personal goal. Humidity or no more Camels in my system is screwing with my heart rate. Avg was 168. That’s high for me and more indicative of a a sub 11 min mile than a 12+, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll conquer that too in time.
I’m running my next 13.1 over Labor Day weekend and need to get back to the serious business of training for the next tennish weeks. It’s a girls only race, so my biggest hurdle in this one will once again be mental. But I know I can do it, I know I can work hard enough to do it to my own definition of well. And really, it is only your own definition of well that should matter to you.