When I set out for my long run this morning, I was feeling a little pensive. Not sad or worried, mind you, just thoughtful. Last weekend was a “milestone” birthday for me (45!) and yesterday was the last race of my kids’ Cross Country season, so I was thinking a lot about endings and beginnings and the bittersweet nature of them both.
|I never get tired of this view. It was a lovely day to run on the American River Parkway.|
Now that I’m feeling better, I’m starting to think a little bit about setting some new goals and looking ahead to racing again. In the immediate future, I’m planning a 10K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and the California International Marathon on December 7th (which I signed up for months and months ago – long before anemia). It’s so weird to go into both of these races knowing that a Personal Worst time is probably all I have in me. Well, maybe not the marathon, but that’s only because I’ve run some pretty shitty marathons. My worst ever 10K was run at an 8:32 pace. Can you imagine? The likelihood of me hitting anything sub-9 for six miles is… I believe the term is “statistically insignificant.”
It’s tough to set goals when you’re not exactly operating at 100%. And, frankly, it’s tough to even know where my 100% is anymore. I feel better. A lot better, in fact. But am I back to where I was before? It doesn’t feel like it. Will I ever be there again? I don’t know.
I’ve generally set goals based on time or distance. Many years ago, when I was “fast,” I was always chasing a PR. Then I wanted to go farther, so I slowed down and just kept going. Either way, I set and (mostly) reached goals that stroked my ego. To be brutally and embarrassingly honest, since I started running eight years ago, I’ve seen myself as something of a badass. Not in comparison to other people who are doing way more badass stuff than me, but definitely compared to the chubby, lazy girl I used to be.
When I’m looking ahead to 2015 and thinking about my running and racing goals, I have some apprehension. I truly feel that the reason I haven’t been physically injured for the past two years is because I’ve slowed way down. And I also feel that the reason I ended up with anemia is because I was pushing myself to go a little too far. This is not to say that I don’t have any more fast miles in me or that I’m all done running ultras, but rather that I need to be sort of cautious for awhile. But where does that leave me right now? Fun runs? Ugh!
|A perfect fall day.|
I was ruminating on these thoughts somewhere around Mile 6 and feeling a little low. This whole anemia thing has been a months-long crisis of confidence for me. Who am I anymore if I’m not a badass? I don’t run fast anymore. I don’t run far anymore. More often than not these last few months, it took everything I had to even make it out the door for a run. And then it hit me. The sparkly diamond I’d been looking for in that deep, dark coal mine: even when I felt like crap, I never lost my motivation to run. There were days when I’d get out of bed so bone tired that I wanted to cry, but I still went for a run. Even though I knew that a measly three-miler was going to require a two hour nap, I would clear my schedule for that nap rather than skip the run. I didn’t quit, and, according to the internet, either the legendary Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, or possibly Ben Franklin said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” That’s pretty badass.
I don’t think I actually got faster after my lovely little epiphany, but I sure felt better. I finished 14 miles, the longest I’ve run since July, with a smile on my face. I love to run. I want to run for as many years as I can. It’s long been my goal to run a marathon when I’m 80 years old (since I ran my first one at 40. It’s like an OCD thing), and I know there will be plenty of mental readjustments along the way. Thank goodness I have so many miles to figure these things out.