What Is It All for?

It’s no secret running has been tough for me this year. It all started last October when I injured myself while training for a marathon. So, yep – almost a year that running has been a struggle. I haven’t wanted to admit it, I haven’t wanted to admit that my running is just not at the level that it was a year or two ago. I am constantly comparing where I am now to where I was then, which is not a healthy thing to do. I have not been present, I have not been enjoying my journey, I have forgotten what this is all for.

Now, that’s not to say I haven’t been enjoying running, because I always do. However, this year I have felt a need to prove myself. To who? Everyone? Myself? I’d say both. I wanted to prove that I was a good runner, something I never thought about when I first started running. I remember my first sub 2 half marathon it was a PR by almost 15 minutes. And my first sub 4 was a PR by almost 30 minutes. People would tell me how great I was doing, other runners I had met would tell me those were crazy improvements. I had no idea, I just knew I was having fun. Then I ran a 1:43 half, when my goal was 1:45. If I had to pin point when I felt the need to prove myself, or maybe more accurately, prove my worth as a runner that was it.  The Urban Cow Half Marathon 2014.  It is my best half to date, and I find myself comparing myself to that race all the time. Stupid, I know! Especially when I encourage so many people on their running journey – slow or fast. I tell people being slow doesn’t matter, who gives a shit? You’re moving, you found something you love, that is what counts. Apparently I don’t listen to my own words.

I had Boston qualifying friends tell me I could BQ. I had people come up to me after races and tell me I was fast and they were trying to keep up with me. I was getting compliments on how fast I was. I’m not gonna lie, I liked it. But at the same time, I’ve never been one to brag, I’ve never let compliments go to my head. I am humble when it comes to my abilities. So what the fuck? Perhaps being the couch potato I used to be, the feeling of accomplishment you feel post race, the recognition, the belonging to a community…perhaps I didn’t want to lose that. And since everyone around me was trying to BQ I decided I wanted to also. Since everyone was talking about getting faster I thought I should get faster too. Of course there is nothing wrong with pushing yourself, setting goals and being your very best, but there is something wrong when it isn’t making you happy and you aren’t doing it for yourself.

There is a social pressure at times when you are a runner. One of the first questions I would get asked once people knew I ran marathons was, “Are you going to qualify for Boston?” When I’d run a race the most commonly asked question was, “What was your finish time?” Which really means (intentionally or not), “How fast did you run?”  It’s like I was letting people down if I didn’t set a new PR, or if I said I wasn’t interested in BQing yet. Obviously those are my thoughts in my head, I wasn’t letting anyone down. I think a  good analogy is when you are in a long term relationship people always ask when you’re getting married. If the answer is never, or you’re not sure there is this look of sympathy like, oh that poor girl isn’t ever going to get married. Maybe I don’t want to get married, maybe I don’t want to BQ, and nothing is wrong with that. You gotta do you. I know society is not intentionally trying to put pressure on me (unless you’re my mom asking for grandkids. I hope grandcats will do) but it does happen. So in the mix of pressure from wanting to “keep up” with the other runners and wanting to look good to those who don’t run I lost myself along the way.

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Fast forward to today.  I ran for the first time in 15 days. It was fun, I looked around, took pictures and enjoyed the fact that I was running along the San Diego bay. I ran by a bathroom that I love – which is so weird but it is clean and has letters all over it. I noticed there was a no climbing sign near the bathroom wall, then I looked at the wall and realized, that would be a really fun wall to climb. You’d be climbing the alphabet!

The skies today were overcast and gray, just the way I like it. I even did the tourist thing and went to the kissing statue for a photo.

3 miles today. Nice, easy and fun. I have 3 marathons within the next 6 months. Two are for charity and one is the CIM so obviously I have to run it, but I don’t have a training plan for any of them right now. I am running because I love to, and those marathons will be long run days. Today I came to the decision to run for fun and I tossed my Chicago plan out the window (not literally, I don’t litter). So if I want to work on some speed I will, if I want to do an easy run along the beach I will, hills – sure, why not? Running has been my time to be free of worries and responsibilities; it has been about connecting with the community, and being happy. So I am going back to that.

Because otherwise, what is the damn point (thank you, friend for your words).

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