After much reflection, I’ve realized why the same excitement over March 4th’s race … the excitement I felt in past races … didn’t overwhelm me. I want to be a runner. A good one, one that finishes many races. Of course, winning or placing in them adds extra bling to my medals, but not why I want to do it. I do it to practice a healthy lifestyle and give myself a break from things I can’t control in life.
This training season, however, told me something else. I had to stop the training I had scheduled. My body hurt in ways it never has. The pain lingered. I couldn’t rest for a day or two and get back on the pavement with no trouble as in year’s past. This was different. The halt in my training knocked me down a few notches: my marathon goal, most importantly. I was bumped down to the half marathon. And I wasn’t really happy about it. And now, even though I safely switched from the full to the half, I’m still having trouble running. I managed a three-mile run/walk today. I’m feeling okay, but I can feel this dull pain in my upper right leg right where my leg meets my torso. That, I’m pretty certain, is what caused the knee pain. I could feel the two were connected during the half marathon last weekend.
I miss that feeling I had as a rookie runner. Each mile was special. I couldn’t wait to complete my next workout. My first half marathon in 2008 was with my best friend in Arizona … the Phoenix Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. So much excitement and planning went into that race, from the sparkly headbands we would wear to the after-race drinks we would enjoy. I was working at a small-town newspaper at the time and my editor let me write a weekly column about my running chronicles. I went on to enter other half marathons and smaller races. I placed in some of them, but always third in my age division. That was just fine by me. I’m a bit competitive; however, placing, whether first or fifth, is a happy feat for me!
As I sit here trying to describe how it feels when I’m injury free and reach that special moment during a run, I remember an article from a recent Runner’s World Magazine. I can’t think of a better way to write it. In describing running nine miles for the first time, Marc Parent, who writes the Newbie Chronicles column, wrote in February’s issue:
“The run itself, though, had suddenly become indescribable. It wasn’t easy , but it was not hard, either. I didn’t know until that moment that there was a hidden gear between hard and easy. I tried to figure out what it felt like, but it was unlike anything else in life I could think of — not like a sunset, not like an explosion, not like jumping from a plane nor swimming in a river nor holding a newborn. Not like music nor mathematics, not love nor hate nor indifference. The moment a run becomes indescribable is the moment it becomes private — not secret, just impossible to share.”
I look forward to that indescribable moment again. Reading another article tonight reminded that my body will get better. Whatever’s ailing, will be healed. Running is my one thing just for me that takes me away from all the things that weigh me down. It gives me freedom, brings me confidence, happiness and joy. I need it back.