Random Rantings and Ravings from a Slow-Poke Runner in the Heart of the South. (A Weeekly (sort of) Blog about running and just about anything else)

Monday, March 05, 2007

The REAL Marathon

I know.

It has been three months of no posting whatsoever from mississiprunner.

After completing a life long dream of finishing a marathon, he just vanished off of the face of the earth. What happened?! Did he die? Got hit by a car maybe? Well, he lives in Mississippi so maybe he got attacked by a deer! No. It was nothing like that. I probably have lost any regular readers of this blog, but I think I its time to describe just what happened; if no one else, but for myself.

The marathon was a great success for me. I had thought about trying to finish a marathon for years and last December, my dreams came to fruition. Nagging injuries and burnout affected my training in the waning weeks and my time suffered from what I had hoped, but it did not serve to dampen the joy of finishing the distance for the first time.

Those of you who have trained hard for a race for weeks or even months, know all about post-race depression. It is kind of like postpartum depression but without the baby. (Just joking for all those who have suffered or is suffering from postpartum!) But seriously, there is a let down after a big race when a runner wonders, what’s next? At least there was for me anyway.

I had suffered though ankle and foot pain through several weeks of training and the marathon distance brought on a brand spankin’ new pain on the outside of my right knee. I knew I needed a few weeks of rest, possibly with no running at all. With the holidays coming up and the business of life at full steam, it was easy to sleep in every morning and enjoy the gratification of being a sloth – knowing, of course, that I was actually a runner just on a short furlough.

I didn’t intend for such a long layoff. I started running again a few weeks later but the lack of a goal revealed little motivation. The injuries were still present and whispered in my ear that a few more days off were really necessary. I went through the Christmas holiday and New Year’s with very little running to show on my log. In fact, the last two weeks of December, I ran less than 20 miles.

I decided I needed a new goal. I have always had an interest in triathlons. I have a road bike and thought that this may be just what I needed to get my motivation back. I logged 12 miles the first week of January with some cycling mixed in. Then the flu bug bit me, zapping my energy for a full week. A visit from corporate followed shortly after that, gaining my full attention. Continued work stress and a heavy load of outside activity seemed to take over my life and take away my ability to avoid the snooze button every morning.

I was starting to lose the daily battle of getting out the door to run. Even more, my eating habits were on the slide. My appetite had increased significantly throughout my months of training for the marathon. All the full fat foods and sweets during the holidays, New Year’s eve parties, and college bowl games were REALLY taking their toll. My clothes began to fit more snug and the poor eating habits continued on, reeking havoc on my energy levels. I had lost my desire to eat right, lost my desire to exercise, and lost my desire to run.

What happened? I didn’t really know but I tried to exercise again, starting on the “Ab’s diet” and the corresponding exercise program in early February. I was shocked to discover that 3 miles on a treadmill seemed hard. I slumbered off each time worrying to myself that I had lost all the endurance I had trained so long and hard for. Could I really have lost it that quickly? I didn’t have the answers and knew I had lost motivation. I wasn’t blogging, not even logging in my runs.

Then came another big illness, strep throat. I thought the flu was bad but it doesn’t have anything on its big bully, strep throat! Apparently, adults suffer much greater than children do when they get strep throat; or at least that is what my doctor told me. He said I tested higher on the strep test than anyone he had ever seen. In other words, I had it bad! Another week of absolutely NO running. The week after, I found it even harder to start up again.

My wife began to question, “Uh honey…when are you going to start running again?” She recognized the behavior from a time I weighed 80 pounds heavier. She worried that I was returning to my old patterns that would pack on the pounds once again.

I was getting slower, fatter, and lazy. I looked at the calendar. The month of March had arrived. OH CRAP! Where had the weeks gone? I was hoping to compete in a sprint tri in March but I am not even sure I could finish 3 miles anymore!

That is when it hit me.

I had completed the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December of last year. But I had discovered that I was currently losing what is my REAL marathon in life. The real marathon was not the one I ran last December or the ones I hope to run in years to come.

The REAL marathon is the one that begins every day with the sound of the alarm at 5 am.

It is the marathon I face as I strap on my running shoes and step out of the house with temperatures under 40 degrees.

It is the marathon I face at 3 pm this afternoon when I stand in front of the snack machine with hunger pains, staring down a snickers bar, playing with the change in my pocket.

It is the marathon I face at 9 pm this evening when I am tempted to empty a half roll of Chip’s Ahoy’s or fill up a mixing bowl full of Fruity Pebbles. It is the marathon I face at 10 pm when I am tempted to stay up a little late watching television, rather than get the sleep I need.
It is the marathon that starts over the very next morning.

It is a marathon I have to face each and every day due to the genes I inherited, the upbringing I experienced, and the lifestyle I have lived.

I know we all face our marathons. Your marathon may sound similar to mine. And I didn’t even mention the spiritual marathon we all face if we are people of Christian faith.

See, I thought I had finished my marathon in December. Thought I had the finisher’s marathon to prove it. But in reality, it was just a corner I turned, or maybe a hill I topped in the REAL marathon I run each day.

So I sat down this weekend with my wife and wrote out a new running plan to compete in the Gum Tree 10 K this May. 10 weeks of running. I entitled it, “The Return”.

The last few months? Let’s call it a pause at a water station.

Now it’s time to start running again.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT


Blogger Phil said...

Many of us run into the blues after a big race ... it's natural. You're very lucky to have a wife who will kick you in the butt to get you going. Happy to see that you finally figured out the running isn't about training for a race ... it really is an integral part of your life.

Great to have you back and I wish you the best getting back into shape. Like the new profile picture also.

7:58 PM

Blogger PLANET3RRY said...

Welcome back!

7:26 PM

Blogger Tiffany said...

Wow! I loved this post. I was browsing running blogs and stumbled upon yours... keep it up! I am with ya- those water station stops will sure pull you in :)

-Tiff in SC

3:39 PM


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