Monthly Archives: July 2014
Remember that half marathon I am supposed to run this summer? It’s okay- me neither really. I mean I’ve been running and training and knew it was on the horizon, but I’ve been so busy I hadn’t spent much time really thinking about it. Until the one month mark rolled around. And I started piecing together the details and logistics. And then in true Kathleen/Half Ass fashion, I “freaked the f out”.
I already knew this was going to be a challenge. So far 13.1 and I haven’t had the best time together, and for the first time I’m going to be facing it on my own. And without the comfort of my fiancee there cheering me on. And then I read the Athlete Guide. And I started doing the math and realized how long a Half Ironman actually takes. How early I’m going to have to get up, and then how long I’m going to have to wait for my turn to run. How hot it’s going to be by then. What if I eat my pre-race meal too soon and I have nothing in me? How mentally challenging is a double loop going to be to my unstable mind? Oh and did I mention that I can’t use my iPod? 13.1 miles of just me and the sound of my own irregular breathing?
I wanted out. This felt like too many uncomfortables all at once. Maybe I’m taking on something that’s just out of my league right now. For a quick second I toyed with the possibility of finding a replacement runner.
But then I thought about how it would feel standing on the sidelines watching someone else cross that finish line, and how it would feel knowing it was supposed to be me. Then I thought about how it will feel if I actually finish this thing. It was became obvious that Option B outweighed Option A.
I don’t want to do this race. but I have to do this race. I have to prove that I can conquer my mental games. I have to let my legs show that they are louder than my brain. I have prove to those who believe in me that I can do this. Most importantly- I have to prove to myself that I can do this.
I’m scared out of my mind, but I know that being scared isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Being scared means that you are being challenged. Being scared means you have a chance to prove that you are brave. Prove that you have grown. Prove that you have taken in all you have been taught. And as I’ve been shown time and time again- the scarier the challenge, the sweeter the finish line.
So let’s do this.
We all know I’m a sucker for anniversaries and memories. In fact a good chunk of this blog has been about remembering and celebrating particular milestones. So it goes without saying that this summer there was one huge milestone I couldn’t let pass by… Iron Girl. For the entire week I reminisced over those sleepless nights, the countdown, how my dining room table was a packing station, and those terrifying butterflies that wouldn’t disappear.
I mentioned before that I wasn’t able to participate this year due to another special event that weekend. I was content with sitting it out because I knew that it would never compare to what I experienced last year. However I still had friends who were participating, and so I knew that I needed to head out there to support them as they had done for me.
Driving to Central Massachusetts in the early hours of the morning was eerily familiar of exactly one year earlier. I watched the sun peak up from behind the hills and remembered the ride to the race site, remembered pinching my arm to prevent myself from throwing up in the car. I ended up having to park my car in a satelite lot so I brought my bike so I could make it to my friends in time (former fat kid flashback: who ever thought I would think of THAT?). I took a left turn in to the lake, passed under the landmark underpass, and my body was instantly covered with goosebumps. Suddenly it felt weird being there. Suddenly I wish I had stayed home and just slept in.
I found my friends and hugged them tightly as I wished them good luck. And then I stood and watched them make their way to the chute, digging my feet in the sand to prevent myself from running to join them. I found a good spot to spectate and stared out at the lake that had once terrified me. I thought about how much I’ve changed since the day I stood in that water, how much I’ve grown since then. I watched as wave after wave was called.I wondered how many of those girls were doing their first race. I wondered how many of them were as nervous as I had been. I hoped they too had someone with them to calm them down.
As the morning went on I quickly forgot about myself. I got so caught up in making sure that I caught my friends at each point in the race, made sure I got pictures as they headed in and out of transition, cheered as they made their way to the final finish. I watched as athlete after athlete crossed the finish line: sometimes in a zone by themselves and sometimes with a friend by their side. I smiled inside when I saw groups of three cross together. I imagined those girls who were so scared at the swim, now beaming as they made their way under the banner. I knew exactly what they were feeling.
At the end of the day I was glad I was there to spectate and to see my team cross the finish line. As tired as I was it felt good to be a part of it in a totally different way. While my friends packed up their transition areas before we headed to breakfast I walked back over to the lake to grab my bike. I stood and looked out at the water, back in it’s calm state. I stood for a moment and said out loud “I’ll see you next year”. I’m not completely confident in that statement. Maybe Iron Girl was something I only needed to experience once. Maybe that was my gateway into bigger and better things. Maybe I left that lake the first time forever changed.
Today’s post is short and sweet because the reminder I got this past weekend was just that. Short and sweet.
There’s a local 4th of July road race that my beloved little running group participates in. The crazy brain, competitive Kathleen signed up for this race a while back with hopes of crushing her time from last year. Then the realistic Kathleen remembered she was coming off an injury and accepted that it would be a “just happy to be there” kind of race.
The morning of 4th of July came and we all met up in our various patriotic outfits. It was hot and muggy, with the dark clouds of a looming storm slowly moving in. I planned on cranking a good playlist with a goal of just making it to the finish line with as little sweat as humanly possible. Much to my surprise and delight, two of my buddies offered to run alongside me and my turtle pace. I grinned as I tucked my headphones away.
We crossed the starting line and found our spot in the pack, at a pace where conversation was easy. As we chugged through the streets we laughed, we gossiped, we poked fun of each other and since it was America’s birthday after all, my friend made it a point to educate us with patriotic facts. The miles flowed into each other, almost seamlessly. After what seemed like barely minutes we were done. As we made our way to water I tried to remember the last time I had finished a race and had that much fun. I couldn’t.
It’s not that I ever want to stop pushing myself, or stop working to be a better runner, because I don’t. But this is supposed to be fun. Running IS fun. And somewhere between x-rays, dissapointing races and burn outs- I missed that memo. And these friends, these races, these are the incredible things I’ve gained in this new life. These are the take-aways. So what if I finished a minute slower than I did last year. Did I care? Not at all actually. Did I have a great time? You bet I did. And on that humid, sticky day… Well that was really all that mattered. Maybe there’s something to be said for the back of the pack, running alongside your buddies… patriotic facts and all. 🙂
In weight loss there are stages. When you first start out, everything sucks. Mountains seem immovable, goals seem like they’re on a road with no end in sight. But then you get the hang of it. You feel better, your clothes are looser, people start noticing the difference. And then comes the plateau- the scale just doesn’t seem to budge. People stop complimenting you because it’s now your normal. Plateaus are a weird place to be in and you find that you either keep pushing, or you become content with where you are.
I find myself in a plateau again. But this time it’s not in regards my weight. It’s my running. I see the similar pattern. It sucked at first but I stuck with it. Just as I did with my weight loss I began to check off milestones. People congratulated me, told me I was inspirational. I chased goal after goal, thirsty for that insatiable feeling of accomplishment.
Two summers ago I sweated my ass off, literally. I worked to create a whole new body, a new sense of confidence. Last summer I took that new body and I trained it to do things I never thought I could do.
I wrote a blog post last week about all my summer goals and plans because it’s a lot cleaner and prettier to talk about moving forward. No one wants to read a blog where you whine and complain. But this is a blog about keeping it real. And at the end of the day I’m still recovering from an injury. I’m still working on a “two steps forward one step back” schedule. I can make all the plans in the world, but they mean nothing if I don’t continue to work on rehabbing and rebuilding first.
It’s a hard place for me to be in. I’m not patient. I want instant results. I want that sense of accomplishment back. I want to chase down goals. And no matter how much I try to retrain, my brain constantly goes to that “must catch up to the other kids” place. Add any combination of these to a bad run and it’s a recipe for disaster. I kick and scream like a toddler in timeout and God knows – I totally deserve one.
Once again I’m reminded of where I’ve come from. I’m reminded of where I’ll go. And I’m reminded that this isn’t a quick fix situation. I’ve got to be in it for the long haul. I’ve got to be patient. I’ve got to be diligent with my routines. And I’ve got to remember why I’m here in the first place.
The easy thing to do would be to cut my losses and move on. Find another hobby, one that’s less painful and that my body agrees on. But I love it too much. And I’ve come too far. And I want to get back to that feeling of accomplishment.
One thing’s for sure- I’m never done learning on this journey. Just when I think I have it all down, I’m reminded that I’ve got a long way to go. These moments are teachable… even if I learn the lesson while kicking and screaming. 😉