In the kitchen

Search This Blog

Monday, September 19, 2011

MDI Half Marathon: an exercise in restraint

After much back and forth in the torment of my own mind, I decided I would run the MDI half on Saturday.

Fearful about the state of my leg and the prospect of being unable to finish, I was extraordinarily nervous between waking up and getting to the starting line. In some ways this isn't an unusual feeling for me, being unable to predict how my body will perform on any given run- if I will feel strong or plodding- but the leg was an unknown factor that made me more anxious than the uncertainty of how fast I would run.'

Emilie drove me down and kept me calm.  I knew I would likely run alone since I planned to start intentionally slow so I said goodbye to her just before mile 1 and tried to settle in.

The MDI course is as beautiful as promised with three massive hills (2 of which are a mile each) and lots of ups and downs in between.  My favorite part?  Seeing a little boy holding a carboard sign that said, "GO SUZANNE!"  I ran up to him and gave him a high five and told him my name was Suzanne and he beamed.

My goals for this race were, in order: stay calm, keep running (if I walked I knew how it would make my leg feel and I could kiss running goodbye), work just to finish and strive for mediocrity.

Striving for mediocrity is a motto that has treated me well over the years. In college when my perfectionism had driven me to points of stress I could not manage, I adopted this saying to allow myself to get a B instead of an A, to let something give so I would not break. Often I still was able to get the A, or write a kick ass paper, but without feeling like my head was in a pressure cooker.

It was a very interesting experience to be running a race, look down at my watch and say, "Whoa there girl.  You are going too fast.  Slow it down.  Save the leg." 

My leg started to bug at about mile 7.  Then it grew to discomfort and at the end surely there was pain.  I was somewhere in between relieved that I could still run on it and frightened of hurting it worse. On those gorgeous carriage trails of Acadia National Park I decided I love the half marathon distance and wasn't really sure I wanted to do another full marathon.

Emilie, finishing strong and setting a new PR for this course:
(and yes, I stole these 4 pictures right off her blog)

I was so proud to be finishing that somehow I couldn't bother to care that I was the last person in my group to cross the finish line.  I couldn't bother to care that I was 12 minutes slower than my best half marathon pace. (I finished in 2:24.)  It was like recapturing the joy of completion without the internal push pull of competition.  I was proud of myself just for being easier on myself and celebrating a goal even if it wasn't an improvement.

(Then I found out that the top female WALKER finished the race in 1:57 and I thought that was just insulting to us runners who didn't walk once, even up those monstrously long hills. I admit my pride in my humble goal of completion wavered when I heard this news.)

Emilie, Susan and I along with Susan's husband, Liam, who completed his first half marathon.
My leg hurt significantly on Sunday.  I'm fairly certain I didn't do any more damage but am soundly reminded that I have an injury.

But I have another problem now.

I know, well 90% of me knows, that I cannot run a full marathon in 4 weeks. I tell people I am not running it.  And yet, I cannot bring myself to email the race director and give up my $100 bib.

Is it frugality or quitting that is getting under my skin?

I think part of me is afraid that my body might not be able to withstand distance running in general.  I'm afraid I might never get the desire back to run 26 miles and without the desire, I can forget the goal. 

To be completely honest, I am both proud and ashamed to admit that I might not be able to live without the over-the-top elation and sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a grueling long run.

Sandi says to me, "You know, you wanted to run a marathon and you ran two.  That could be enough."

But this is where the crazy enters in.

I want it to be enough.  Hell, I'm not even sure I want another one.  Yet, I like being able to run far.  I like that badge of identity I can wave proudly in the air when domesticity threatens to overtake me.  I am a marathon runner.

But what if I'm not anymore.  Then what will I be?

So you get that this is not really about running but about the deeper seated issues with being a minivan driving stay-at-home mom (who sometimes works)?  And likely I need to go back to therapy instead of to vomit it all out on the blog.  

For now I am going to enjoy the fact that I can lift weights at the gym and work my legs and  not preserve them for any long runs.  I am going to ride my new bike in this breathtaking September weather. I am going to continue to work toward barefoot running so I don't keep injuring myself. 

I am NOT going to decide my running future in this very moment.

I AM going to try to remember what it was like to steam through the finish chute on Saturday feeling like it was enough and that distance running is only worth it if it is makes me feel good. 

No comments:

Site Meter