Today I ran my first 10-miler since November. And it was ugly.
I had a great running “season” in 2015. I PRed my half marathon distance. That felt amazing! I qualified for the USA Half Marathon. Twice! And I got to run the Twin Cities Marathon with my dear friends and running mentors. EPIC!
But it was a rough year too. I broke my foot and struggled with pain and the fear of re-injury from June through November. And as excited as I was to have qualified for it at mile 9 at the USA Half Marathon in November, I realized something. I was DONE. Perhaps it was because I forgot my hat and sunglasses in my hotel room and had just turned into the blazing sun, but I could think of about a BAZILLION things I would have rather been doing at that very moment. And none of them involved running.
With Sid and Reese’s health issues at the end of the year and trailing into the first part of 2016 I decided that it was time for a break. No distance running for me for a while. No races. Just running for the love of it. I knew that when the time was right to “work” my miles again I would know it. It would happen naturally, like finding a long lost friend.
And it did.
I can’t even remember when my running became training again. I have so many training schedules swimming around in my head now that I find that I do them without much thought. But regardless of when, I started to “work” my miles again. Slowly. Climbing gradually. And not making any of it easy. I took to the hills. This time a route that changed up multiple times within one mile. And I repeated it. Over. And over. And over again. Talk about muscle confusion! I did one hilly run after another. Week after week my miles climbed. And the struggle was REAL.
For me running 10 miles is THAT distance. The one that personally makes me feel like a distance runner. Ever since I started running distance I have felt that if I don’t run at least 10 miles on my long run, I should probably just not even get out of bed. I’m weird. This is a ME thing. It’s the place I’ve found where I fit best in my own skin and in my own mind. It means something to me. As athletes we all have that ONE physical threshold. The weights we lift. The calories we burn. The miles we run. The seemingly meaningless pressures we put on ourselves for reasons outsiders never quite understand. They are, perhaps, the amor we wear to better fight our demons, to deal with our struggles … and the things that others can’t see. Our reasons WHY may only make sense to us. And that’s OK with me.
As difficult as it was I will count today as a victory. I found my long lost friend. The miles of solitude, self reflection, pain, tears and utter joy. I plan on hanging with these miles for a while. With time I will run them better and they will ultimately make me stronger. Which is good … because I have some pretty lofty dreams to chase.
Well, I hope you all have a day where you run YOUR 10 miles!!!