I apologize if you came over to my corner of the web today looking for a Rock n Roll San Antonio recap. That is not what you will be getting.
With half-marathon under my belt I have come to this moment, right here, enlightened. In regards to MY OWN running, that is.
You see, before this year I never thought I was capable of running 13.1 miles. I never thought I could actually run much more than a 5k. I mean marathon runners have like…. Less than 10% body fat (or ya know.. so I thought). I’ve always been a thin girl, but average thin.. Not anorexic thin. Until I became an adult I absolutely never had body image issues. Crazy, since I was a gymnast and a dancer. Both notorious for self-image issues.
I can pin the day I started having bad body images to the day I had ovarian surgery. I was bed-ridden for what felt like an eternity. I was on a diet that consisted mostly of mashed potatoes and ice cream. I needed help with everything. After a few weeks, I hated what I saw. Although even at my worst, I was never actually overweight. Actually, I don’t think anyone other than myself, including my boyfriend at the time, even noticed a difference what-so-ever. But I was growing more and more disgusted with the girl looking back at me in the mirror. I was also growing weaker and weaker every day. Truth be told, I had stopped being truly active about 2 years prior to this. Quit gymnastics and dancing entirely. My only form of physical activity at that point was waiting tables 30 hours a week.
When I began running, I saw my body transform. Not necessarily in appearance, but I was definitely getting stronger. I felt my core that was pretty badly destroyed from surgery recover with every run I went on. Even if I was running a mile with frequent walk breaks. Throughout my journey as a runner I have become stronger every day. My legs became the rocks they once were as a gymnast. After some time, I learned to incorporate other forms of strength training. Core work. Leg work. Even my arms, now…
At one point during this journey, running even taught me to love my body. It proved to me that my body is something to be proud of, flaws and all. If I’m smart about it, and put in the work; my body can do anything (within reason) I want it to. This is my body, and it’s the only one I get… Assuming I don’t get bionic parts in the future.
For this very reason, because I love my body. Because I respect my body I have decided to drop to the half-marathon at the Austin Marathon in February and postpone my Marathon debut. This wasn’t an easy decision to come to, yet it was the easiest decision of my life…
I realized there is a genius to the run-walk approach. Hang with me here, because I’m not being literal, though I really am at the same time. (Charlotte, get it together here. You’re not making any sense.)
Physical work is easier and healthier when you take breaks. This also works for learning…. There is a reason that teachers start their lessons with a brain warm-up, then dive into the heavy material, and end the class having backed off a bit.. Allowing creative and cognitive thought to replenish the brain.
After two-ish years of running, one of which was more ‘serious’ running, I have learned that my body needs me to back off after an intense training cycle. Like our brains, my body works best when given rest and variation. After 13 weeks of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion, I know that my body needs me to back off a little. I never really spoke about my brother’s death. I downplayed how upset I was after the split between Zack and I. I downplayed how stressful it was to try to move to Austin after just getting back home to NY. I downplayed how painful my hip was getting at the end of training for San Antonio.
Sitting here right now.. It’s kind of silly to me that I did. I grew more than I knew possible this year. I’ve grown more in less than a year, than a lot of people do in a lifetime.
All of this. Every aspect of it. The epiphanies I’ve had, the injuries I’ve experienced, the heart ache…Wanting to rip my hair out over some of the stress; Have lead me to this comfort… I know now, that life really is all about the journey. There is no rush. I do not want to just survive this life, I want to thrive in it!
I don’t want to just survive my first marathon. I want to thrive! I want to be the strongest I’ve ever been. I want to cross the start line confident, not terrified. (Though yes, there is a certain level of fear in every marathoner, newb or experienced) I know that if I run in February, I will end up only half-way pleased. I will be proud of myself for finishing, but I will be disappointed with how poorly executed it was. I will be extremely frustrated with my body for doing something that it wasn’t prepared to do in the first place.
I will run a marathon. I still plan for it to be in 2013, it just won’t be Austin. It just won’t be 2 months from now. Instead I will be giving myself some time to back off the intensity so my body mind and soul can recover from the last several months of intense life. I’m going to find some local 5ks, pick out my favorite hole-in-the-wall bar in Austin, go to social outings and meet people, and even go on my first post-engagement date. GASP.
If you want to rain on my parade, go right on ahead. It will not bother me. I am comfortable with my decision. No, actually, I’m proud of it. Being smart enough to listen to our bodies takes a level of responsibility that only come after growing as a person, and a runner.