It’s been an interesting last couple of months on the running front. I ran two great marathons in the fall before I broke my butt and had to take a break from running for over a month. It’s hard to describe exactly what it’s like when you go from waking up every morning at 5 to put in 8 solid miles before work — to sleeping late, popping muscle relaxers every 4 hours, and foam rolling like it’s your lot in life. There is something to be said for extra sleep and for fewer sports bras to wash, that’s for sure. But running is my friend. And I missed my friend very much.
I finally got back to running over Christmas. It was slow going — which is to say it was a tough transition, but also that I was, unsurprisingly, much slower than I had been before. I felt out of shape for the first time in a long time, and it was a frustrating feeling. My aerobic capacity had declined, my legs were feeling weak, and I had had… well… a lot… of these life-altering gluten-free brownies over the holidays. Running had lost its meditative quality that I so appreciated about it. I couldn’t relax into my runs because I was too busy willing my body to run in the first place. And so I took to complaining about my situation on a pretty constant basis.
Of course, complaining didn’t improve my running, and it sure didn’t make me feel any better mentally. I decided to just run — whenever I wanted and for however long it felt good to me. After Christmas I spent a week in New Orleans, basically eating the city into submission. We had lots of fancy run plans, some of which actually came to fruition. But the others were quickly abandoned — tossed aside for categorically better options. Like oysters. And cured meats.
Back in June, I registered for the Charleston Marathon, and that’s coming up this weekend. To say that I’m undertrained for the event is a laughable understatement. I’ve been anxious about this race ever since my injury happened. I kept wondering how on earth I was going to do this thing.
Even up until a few days ago, I was planning on a long, 20 mile run for Sunday. People always say that you ought to run a 20 miler before your marathon, and I somehow thought that, if I did that thing, it could make up for all the other long runs I haven’t accomplished in the last several weeks. I realized, just in time, that that theory was really stupid. Running 20 miles 6 days before a marathon that you have not trained for does not suddenly render you well-trained. It renders you sore, and tired, and — let’s face it — probably a little bit more anxious about the impending race than before you had that brilliant idea to begin with.
The truth is, of course, that no matter whether I’m well trained or not trained at all, I’m not going to win this marathon. Winning is not what I signed up for, and winning is certainly not why I run to begin with. I run because I enjoy it, because it balances me, because I can’t live without it. And I’m going to run the Charleston Marathon for those same reasons.
Running is supposed to be hard, especially running marathons. If running marathons were easy, everybody would do it. But they don’t. I know this race is going to be tough, and I have no idea how long it’s going to take for me to finish it. But I will be there. And I will be having a lot of fun. And, despite everything, I really couldn’t be more excited.