I had almost done it. I had almost talked myself into going out for a run. Shockingly, for those who know me and know my love of running, I haven't run since Thanksgiving Day.
6 days after Thanksgiving, my world changed, but it goes back a little further than that for me.
2013 was a rough year for my running and the psyche of my running. Every race I trained so hard for ended in disappointment. I trained so hard for a 10k last spring that I was totally trained and ready to break a pr by shaving off probably about 3 minutes (which in the world of running is HUGE). I spent the week before that race with a sick child. Race day dawned and I just felt totally weird and off throughout the race. Got home to realize I had a low-grade fever. I still finished the race in about my time from the year prior, but it was a total disappointment.
After that race, I never felt like I hit my stride again or maybe I never could hit that speed that I had gained during that training so it never felt like I hit my stride again.
I trained really hard for a half marathon in September. It was supposed to be a flat course with two rolling hills. It was supposed to be a fun girls weekend. It was the first race I ever planned to run that I didn't set any specific time goals. My goal was to go have fun and enjoy a half marathon (Yes I see the irony…it is still 13.1 miles…at some point it becomes not fun, but fun was my goal).
The course turned out to be almost 13 miles of hills. There was one break between miles 10 and 11.5 (if I remember correctly). Then more hills. It was the hardest race I have ever run. It. was. not. fun. at. all. Not even a tiny bit.
Immediately following that race, I jumped right back into training for another half marathon. Truthfully, I had joined a half marathon training team for this half. We had started meeting in August for a November half. So, I never had a break between the two halves. I chose not to set a time goal for this race and rather focus on running the entire course. I wanted to run the course no matter the time, but not walk at all.
I spent the week before the November half sick and not eating much of anything. Which of course spells disaster for running a half marathon. I still finished in a respectable time, no pr of course, but respectable. It felt like crap because once again I knew I was trained and ready, but the stars didn't align for that race either.
Thanksgiving day, I ran a Turkey Trot 10k. Once again, I didn't set a time goal, in part because my pace has been so much slower this whole year. Well, really not SOOO much slower, but it felt like it to me especially mentally and especially after what I knew I was capable of for the 10k earlier this year.
Thanksgiving day was really cold. The race went OK, however my hamstring/ hip which had been bothering me following the hilly half in September and of course bothered me some during the half that I had completed 10 days prior, bothered me. I ended up walking some.
All in all, despite my slowest 10k time ever, it was an enjoyable race because I focused on enjoying the day and relishing that I was doing a Turkey Trot, something I had long wanted to do.
While the last race was at least a good memory, it wasn't the icing on the running cake of 2013 that I needed. I needed to feel strong and feel like I could, in fact, run fast and feel strong and like myself.
That is where my journey gets a little muddled.
I started running while losing 40 pounds. The journey of running has been so empowering for me. It has been a journey of pushing myself and being totally amazed at how strong I am and of what I and my body are capable.
This year none of that has clicked. I guess in part, it has left me feeling less than and certainly not empowered. It has left me wondering if, at 42, I'm over the hill and I've lost it. It has left me wondering if I need to come up with totally different dreams and ambitions for running. It has left me up in the air wondering what I wanted from my running in 2014.
Before 2014 hit, on December 4th, my Aunt was hit by a car while walking her dog. She was killed. She lived in a major metropolitan city with sidewalks and safety for pedestrians. I do not. I live in a suburb that, because I was raised in a major metropolitan city, is by my definition rural. There are no sidewalks. There are no traffic lights at which I can cross the busy street that leads out of my small neighborhood. I can't run 12, 6 or even 3 miles running the circle of my neighborhood without mentally going nuts. I have to cross this busy street. I have to run on the side of the street. Or I have to quit running.
Tears come to my eyes as I write that because I don't want to quit running (my tight jeans don't want me to either). But I've had quite a few close calls on these small roads with no sidewalks. The school buses are the worst. They pass so close I can touch them, should I dare. I have had close calls with cars that are just too busy to slow down to give room for the runner in the road while passing a car going the other direction. It scares me, but until December 4th, I assumed it would never happen to me or anyone I knew. I never gave it a thought except in that moment. Now I know better. Now I know it can happen and it did happen to my Aunt.
This morning, I almost went for a run. This morning I almost forced myself to get over it. I chose to take my girls and our dog on a bike/walk instead. The irony of that is not lost on me. It is ever-present in my mind on our walk/bike. I am overly cautious but because we homeschool, it is also the middle of the day with very little traffic.
Tonight, I look at Facebook for just a few minutes. Guess what I see? A woman who lived in my suburb and was part of the marathon training team (a sister training program to my half program) was hit and killed by a drunk driver while out running this morning. WHAT? How can this happen? How am I ever to feel safe going for a run again? And OMG, her family. The pain and agony they are going through right now. I have seen that pain up close and personal. It isn't pretty. It is devastating. It is so palpable anyone in the room can see it, touch it and feel it. Is running worth that? I would NEVER EVER want to knowingly do something that would cause my family to go through that.
I do realize that I'm taking this too far mentally and yet that is where I am at. I do realize it is not necessarily rational thinking…and yet that is where I am at.
Before all of this had happened, I had planned a different state of my running post, in which I was able to come up with my new goals for 2014 and what I wanted from my running. Now, I have no idea. Now, I want to run and not die doing so. I'm afraid I might be sounding crass, particularly to my Uncle and cousins who lost their wife/mom. I'm so sad for them. I'm so sad they have to go through what they are going through.
I'm so sad to have lost my Aunt. There were so many conversations I still wanted to have with her. So many texts and Margaritas still to enjoy. I feel like my fear of going running is just dumb in comparison and yet it is still there and it is still very real to me. I still need to figure it out and deal with it.
As of writing this post(I write in advance and schedule posts), I'm not sure what I will do. I know that I reached out to a friend who has thought of running a 10k. I invited her to join the training team with me for a spring 10k. I think maybe getting back out there with a group and someone I know may make it a little easier. I also know the roads they run and the paths they run and it terrifies me because they are busy roads with small shoulders.
I know myself well enough to know that I love running and I won't let this stop me. I will power through, someday. I also know that I was at a crossroads with running. Needing to redefine what I want and what it means to me. I think I will probably sign up for the 10k and the training team and hope that will ease me back in. I'm not sure if I will go at it full force or if I will drop back and try the beginner group. For some reason that sounds better to me, safer to me. It makes no sense.
If I have gone forward with the 10k and training team, that means tomorrow morning will be my first run. My first run since Thanksgiving, since December 4th and since today (when another runner died). Deep breath. I. can. do. this.