Yesterday I exceeded a goal I had set for myself. Although I have been running for a while, I had not really been tracking my mileage past the week to week or month at the most. That was before I got involved with some Facebook running groups, and one had a challenge in September of 2014 to run 90 miles in the 9th month. At the time I was clocking in between 75-85 miles a month most of the time, and I completed the challenge with 110+ miles. I had just been cleared to run because in July I had major surgery to repair ripping open my midline incision from emergency surgery the August before. I ran a 1/2 marathon the next month, and from September 1, 2014 until August 28, 2015 I ran 1000.4 miles.
This year has not been easy. The repair surgery was involved and painful, and included mesh, screws, opening my incision at the top and 13 ‘poke holes’ for the laparoscope. My recovery from the 10+ lb tumor the summer before was hard and long… This year I also had a small injury to my foot, had to deal with the flare of an achilles tendon injury, and in early August had a bad muscle sprain to by back and shoulder. I continued on, and exceeded my goal. August is not up yet, and I suspect there may be a few more miles on the total before the month is over. And it was an absolute honor to have my friends celebrate meeting my goal with me via Facebook and other social media. I was shocked when folks shared my picture to their feeds and said such lovely things. I am simply honored that these folks are in my life.
Being somewhat introverted and introspective, I thought about the things I want to achieve. I have struggled this summer with finding work/life balance, not a new issue for me, but one nevertheless. I know this is a temporary issue, but it has prevented me from preparing for a full marathon as I hoped, and I did not get to participate in a obstacle/mud race like I wanted to. I will most likely run a 1/2 again before the winter hits, and I might still try for the Marathon in November, but that will take some serious training and serious luck since it is 9 1/2 weeks out. I more realistically will try for a marathon in the spring, and will do a Mudderella next summer. I have had to revise goals before, and this is no exception. I want to do a Spartan before I turn 50, which will happen a little less than 4 years from now. Onward and upward I go.
Most of you know runners, and have them in your life. And no matter the speed or level of runner, we all LOVE TO POST AND TALK ABOUT RUNNING! I have been humbled and amazed by folks who have shared that watching me go after my running goals has inspired them. In my thirties I had gained a lot of weight for a multitude of reasons, and over a four and a half period of time I took off 130+ lbs. Running was a big part of that, as was changing my eating plan. I have had folks tell me in the most touching and heartfelt way that I have been an inspiration to them… And my reaction? Predictably if you know me… Awkward. I am always shocked that folks find anything I do all that noteworthy or interesting, because that is not why I do it. It humbles me, it is an honor, and it (frankly) freaks me out a bit. I have had several friends tell me they have started or resumed running and I am to thank for it. I was always at a loss for words, when a simple ‘thank you’ would have worked. This happened a few times yesterday. I looked back at the challenges I have faced over the years, and realized that my way is to put my head down, get tunnel vision in a good way, and just DO IT. And that has taken me through many challenges in my life, physical, emotional, and others. I also thought about the effect someone telling me ‘it cannot be done’ has on me. I become hell-bent on meeting my goal. I was told I would not ever be able to run… the reasons from doctors included:
- The previous injuries and surgeries to my knees and the fact I have EDS
- Advanced spinal degeneration and loss of some disks in my neck and back
- The adhesions, scar tissue, and surgical ‘rerouting’ that occurred after the removal of the fallopian tumor that nearly took my life
And I did it anyway. And I realize that some day, I may pay a high price for this. But not today. My old doctors were shocked. I now have new doctors that treat me like an athlete, and work with me to get me up and running post ‘whoops’ as soon as possible. I am also willing to push beyond what I ever thought possible. Six years ago if you told me I would be running 6 days a week, and a bitty run for me is 3-6 miles, I would have laughed hysterically. If you would have told me how I choose to eat now, mostly plant-based, organic, etc. I would have also disbelieved you. But I took things in small chunks, because most of my family is dead. Of those remaining, their health is horrible. I do not want that, and I woke up one day at my heaviest and most out of shape, and realized I did not want to feel that way anymore. I needed to find the right doctors to assist with the underlying issues, and I began my journey. I continue to struggle with my weight and body image every day, and my focus is on how I feel and how my clothes fit, not numbers on a scale. Dropping to under 100 lbs after the tumor surgery helped me realize that if you do not have health, you actually have very little. So my journey continues. I love the active lifestyle I have now. I jumped out of a plane in June and it was everything I thought it would be, and more. I plan to do it soon. I have little time or little to say to those who want to caution me about the physical horrors of running. They have no idea that every step I take running is often painful. I doubt I will ever see a sub-8 minute mile again, but I frequently see a sub-10 minute mile. On long runs I am more in the 11 to 12 minute mile range, and I am fine with being a slower runner. The only person I am competing with is me. I do not need to place in my age group, or win the race.
Running is my meditative, healing, restorative space. And sometimes it is agonizing. I wonder if that is what it feels like to be born…
Some day I will not be able to run. Today is not that day.
Thank you for reading!