I was going to start this post simply with the word "fuck," and I thought, Well, I shouldn't do that. What if someone gets offended? My mom will definitely scold me. And then I realized I basically started this post with the word fuck anyway.
So here we are.
Today marks nine weeks until the Boston Marathon. I am at the exact halfway point of my training. At the same time it feels like a of time, it feels like no time.
Yesterday, as I am wont to do, I suffered from a touch of meltdown.
When I qualified for Boston in the fall of 2015, I had a purpose. I will return to Boston, I will run better than I did the first time, it will be fantastic. No wiggle room. No other options. It's the only reason I wanted to return to Boston. The only reason I even cared to qualify again.
Life fast-forwarded one year, and with Boston on deck, my goal remained the same. I will return to Boston, I will run better than I did the first time, it will be fantastic. No wiggle room. No other options.
Training began nine weeks ago, and I had one goal in mind. One finish time. One race pace. ONE OPTION. That's all fine and good, if it were still one fucking year ago.
Except in between then and now, I got sidelined for nearly five months with a broken pelvis. In some alternate universe I believed starting from scratch would not require adjusting my goals just a tiny bit.
So nine weeks ago I resumed marathon training like I had for the last several. I keyed in on the race paces I needed to shoot for. Once upon a time, those paces were like riding a bike. Probably I would fall off a time or two, but then it'd be smooth sailing all the way to the finish line, literally. I always got lucky nailing those paces. I always got lucky on race day.
BUT IT TURNS OUT IT IS NOW REALLY, REALLY HARD.
Workouts are hard. Very hard. There are tears more often than reasonably required. Not tears of pain, but tears of frustration. Whose fucking body is this? What happened to the strong body I used to have?
What happened to me?
I've completely bombed two key, long workouts in the last nine weeks, not so much out of lack of ability, but out of lack of confidence. Fear of realizing how hard it is. Fear of knowing it's going to be hard. Fear of not recognizing the runner I am today.
But mostly, the gradual realization that I've set my sights too high for Boston, and man, that is hard to let go.
I didn't reevaluate my goals when I took those first few running steps again last August, like a baby deer learning to walk on fragile, little legs. Why? What was I thinking?
The result has been me, stuck so far inside my own head that I'm overwhelmed by the task ahead of me. I'm so focused on I CAN'T I CAN'T I CAN'T that I'm forgetting I STILL GET TO.
I remember crying all summer, unable to run, knowing Boston was ahead of me the following spring. I pleaded with whatever would listen, and reasoned with myself. If I could just heal and return to running, I'd get myself to the start line in Hopkinton and CELEBRATE.
Boy, Boston wasn't going to be the redemption I originally set out for, but it sure would be a redemption. I broke a critical running bone almost a year to the day before the 2017 Boston Marathon.
On that day, April 24, 2016, I hobbled off the course 21 miles into the Bend Marathon. I had to quit. My pelvis, unbeknownst to me, was cracked apart. For nearly five more months, I cried and whined and dreaded. Just let me come back from this and run Boston. Let me celebrate my own triumphant return to running. Just let me.
Less than a year later, April 17, 2017, I get to do that, but where did the good attitude go? Where did the celebratory spirit disappear to? Where in the journey did I follow the path that said RESULTS RESULTS RESULTS and ignore the path that screamed YOU ARE HERE?
Even writing this, knowing the joyous, celebratory path is the clear winner over the results path, I'm still having a hard time with acceptance. I am my own worst enemy and own worst critic. Forever.
What is it about goals that makes them so very hard to let go? Do I think it's giving up? Do I think I'm letting someone down? All I want is to return to the runner I used to be. I want to recognize within myself that strong, capable runner. The thing is, I know I'll find her. The problem is, I expected to find her in just a few months. The chances of finding her in time for Boston have always been slim, but I ignored that.
My coach, Caleb, sent me a message this morning:
WHAT WILL BE IMPORTANT?
I know that answer. Being there. Finishing. Smiling. Running strong. Running with what I have on that day. Not running with what I had two years before. Crossing the finish line will be a celebration for me. My own triumph. It will awaken the strong, capable runner I'm working on finding again. She'll come back with a vengeance when she's ready, and dammit, I miss her. She'll be proud.
So now I need to work on believing everything I just wrote. I have nine weeks to get there.