Holy cow, it’s been a month since my last post?? Where has the time gone?? So sorry for the lengthy absence, dear readers, but I’m back now and full of updates for your reading pleasure. Because I might not have been blogging but I sure wasn’t idle. In fact, I ended up burning the candle at both ends for so long that I made myself incredibly sick – I’m just now coming back from a ten-day convalescence. But the lead-up to that rather ignominious ending was awesome: I had a bunch of great experiences, traveled to both new and familiar places, met some pretty cool people and made new friends, worked incredibly hard on project that means quite a lot to me. So if the price I had to pay for all that was being laid up for a week, it was worth it.
But first and foremost, I need to talk about an event that took place this past weekend, one that I had blogged about earlier this year. The Wineglass Marathon in Corning, New York, was held on Sunday. You know, the one marathon I was supposed to do, the one my best friend and I had promised each other years ago that we would run together. Now, you know me and how, when I get involved in something new or interesting, I like to record every bit of minutiae of that new, interesting thing here on my blog. So it was probably pretty telling that I hadn’t uttered a peep about the marathon since that initial post. And if you were waiting with bated breath to hear how it went (as I’m sure you all were. Har), you’ll be disappointed to hear that I didn’t run it. I dropped out. But I have really good, valid reasons for it, I swear (they would have to have been for me to lose out on that entry fee. Oof).
See, I tried to convince myself that I’m a long-distance runner. I tried to psych myself up to spend an hour and a half on the treadmill every other day, to devote the entire morning of one of my precious few days off to pounding the pavement, to pretend that the myriad aches and pains that go along with logging thirty or more miles a week were good for me. But I just couldn’t. Because in my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that at all. The truth is, the more miles I add to my runs, the more I come to loathe them. I get sulky, grumpy, even angry about it. And that’s completely defeating my purpose of running. Running is a release. It’s something that, on a normal day, soothes me and relieves stress, and on the best days, brings me great joy and a feeling of invulnerability. It grounds me and keeps me centered. The amount of stress I put on myself because I was struggling to hit my weekly mileage was more unhealthy than any benefit I might have gained from seeing the training through until its bitter, painful end. So I stopped. Instead of forcing myself to run a certain distance or speed, I ran by feel. If I wanted to go for four or five miles in the evening after work, I did. But if I just couldn’t get my head into it that day, I scaled back. This realization, that I don’t have to be a slave to a training program, that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do, was a revelation. And some of the joy that had leeched out of my runs started to return.
But there was still one problem: I still had to tell Ang that I was bailing on her. If I thought the stress of training was bad, it had nothing on this. I knew she’d be disappointed – after all this was something we’d been planning for years – but I also had a hunch that she already knew. She texted me regularly about her training progress and while I listened to and cheered her on, I didn’t contribute any anecdotes of my own. Which, considering just how often we talk about running, is highly suspect. So despite the fact that I had made up my mind about the race in June, it took until the end of July, when we went away on our girls’ weekend, before I could work up the guts to tell her. After discussing how her training was going, I finally mustered the courage to say, “I need to tell you something.” She responded with a smirk and a sardonic “Yeah, I figured this was coming.” (She knows me pretty well, have I mentioned that?) And yes, she was disappointed that we wouldn’t be going through it together but she understood. She knows how much I struggle with and dislike long runs. But she was going to carry on in the hopes of besting her one other marathon time. So this past Sunday morning, I cheered her on from home (totally relishing not having to get up at 4am, if I’m honest) and marveled at her tenacity as she managed to eke out a great (albeit not a PR) finish with a blown hamstring. I wish I could have been there to encourage her in person but based on how well she did on her own, I don’t think she needed any help from me.
But my lack of interest in running long distances isn’t the only reason I decided to bag the race – I just didn’t have the time to train for it. I know, I know, I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but this year is one of transition for me. I’ve been taking on new challenges, trying new things, chasing those dreams of mine. And I’ve simply run out of hours in the day to do everything I want to do. My priorities have started shifting and I’ve found that exercising for hours every day isn’t one of them. Maybe one day, once I find an equilibrium with all the things I’m trying to juggle, I’ll make a triumphant return to serious training and racing, but for now I know that this is where I need to be.