goals

Redefining self

Married!
Photo credit: John Medinger

I was at the track on Tuesday to take on my first really hard workout since coming back from my injury. The last great (and just plain last) workout I had at the track was in August, so I was feeling pretty intimidated about the 5x1600m at 10k pace with 2 min recovery. I didn't think I could do it, frankly and tried to emotionally prepare myself for it to suck. Nevertheless, I laced up my flats, braved the horrible windy, rainy weather and started running. 

The first lap I was thinking "wow, this is great! I love this! I can do this."
Second lap: "I can't imagine doing this 4.5 more times. How am I going to through this?!?!"
Third lap: "Ok, just make it through this one and I can modify the next one, if I have to. Just hold on."
Fourth lap: "Wheeeeeee, I'm almost done. I can do this, I can do this! Look at me fly."

And so went all 5 intervals. I rocked it. I hit my paces even in the face of a harsh headwind. But even still I had to talk myself through each and every lap. Struggle, fear failure, triumph. When it was over, pure satisfaction. I love these kind of workouts because they scare me, challenge me and push me to knew heights. There is always the possibility of failure in them, but success is always within reach if I really push myself.



This year has been one filled with change. Often times, it has felt like a perpetual track workout where everything involved felt challenging, scared me or ran the risk of complete failure. This year's changes, like these track workouts, is something I have chosen to undertake. I have faced these things knowing that it would be hard, I would fail, I would triumph, I would doubt and would rise.

My life, my path and who I am is being redefined through these changes.  I got married, moved to a different town and together with my husband, started working on opening our own cafe. My life a year ago had such a different set of priorities, a much lesser sense of complication. Running and training was my highest priority. We lived a simpler life: where shall we go run this weekend, who can join us, what shall we eat after we run? These were the things that fundamentally mattered to us. And the fact of the matter is: they still do.  Running, food and friendship remain the driving forces in our life. But now, our priorities are different.

For me the priority shift does mean redefining how I see myself. Going in to the new year, I have no idea how the opening of our cafe will affect my ability to run and race. Running is a huge part of who both Nathan and I are, but so is opening the cafe, we are passionate about the food we are bringing to our community  and we are all in on making that be a huge success. Just like getting married, just like moving to a new place, it changes things and I am now working to discover what it all means to me, how I see the world and who I am. I don't have the answers yet as to how these challenges and changes affect my life, my priorities and my sense of self. I know that, no matter what, I am pursuing the things that I am passionate about and going after them with vigor. Who I am and who I become through process are exciting to discover.

Comeback or move forward

Second run back, marking the Firetrails 50 course
Photo by Brett Rivers

Six weeks ago I was in the best shape of my life. Workouts were going great. I was coming off a good training run at Kauai marathon feeling hungry to go after a PR in the low 2:30s at Chicago. Fit as a fiddle and ready to roll. 

I was excited and motivated to keep pushing. But then I fell and then I was injured. A month ago, I was still hoping to be able to run on our wedding day. Instead, I had to watch from the sidelines (and shed some tears) about not being able to join my friends for some wedding weekend running. I had to withdraw from Chicago, cancel my trip and miss out on seeing my sister PR in the windy city on her birthday. The last six weeks have been filled with the best of times (getting married!!!) as well as some very rough times (it is not in fact just me that is injured, Nathan has a stress fracture in his foot). 

With an injury like mine, there comes a point when you feel like you are no longer just trying to bridge the healthy running with intense cross training and instead are struggling to hold on to your goals. You come to a point where no matter how hard you workout in the pool or on the bike or on the elliptical, that you just don't feel fit anymore. It took me four weeks to get back to running and naturally, I went out of the gate pretty hard with it. The first week it felt blissful to just be back out on the trails again. I felt nervous and tentative about pushing my foot/ankle too far. But that blissful caution wore off pretty quickly with the reality of my upcoming goals. I am slated to do NYC marathon in less than two weeks. Last week I pushed myself like a crazy person and took risks that I might not have if I was simply focused on my healthy return. I was focused on the comeback, not moving forward. 

The funny thing about the idea of a comeback is that it is not very forward thinking. It is a focus on getting back to a place of something, in this case fitness. Moving forward means letting go of where you were and focusing on creating something new; better, strong, faster. Because I have a race rapidly approaching, I have had a comeback mentality which ultimately a very short sighted approach. I could ready myself enough to run NYC in two weeks, but I wonder if it is worth it. I struggled really hard to let go of Chicago and am now faced with making the same choice again. I wonder if I will be fit enough to deserve to stand on the line with the elite women. I wonder if I will get dropped quickly and be bringing up the rear of the elite women's start. I wonder if I will wheezy and lumber myself through an embarrassing performance. I wonder if my ankle will flare up or if it will hold steady. I don't know the answers, but I know that I would make different choices if I had no races on the immediate schedule. It is a complex thing to decide whether to come back or move forward.

I want to make the right decision for my health, for my running, for my racing. Ultimately, I simply love to run and I love that my body has allowed me for so long to push it this way. I want to respect it and take care of it so I can do it for a long time.