TITLE NOTE: I could not ask for a more perfect song for this post or my current state of mind. In less than twenty-four hours I will be staring glassy-eyed at the hairy yet handsome face of Jason Mraz as he lays down some of my favorite lyrics on Earth – “Sleeping to Dream,” “A Beautiful Mess,” “Frank D. Fixer,” “93 Million Miles,” and the song of my summer, “Living in the Moment.” The man is a lyrical genius, a figurative language freak in a fedora…but more about the wonder of Mister Az (from the second row!) later this week.
In less than four weeks I will be toeing the line at my third marathon and my first attempt at qualifying for Boston. “Living in the Moment,” although a fairly straightforward and radio-friendly offering from Mraz, will be on repeat in my mind as I plow through my final weeks of training for the Wineglass Marathon and try to convince myself I’m ready.
WARNING: Whining ahead.
Lately, running has been hard. Not physically, but mentally.
It all started when a few weeks ago I had a mono scare. I went to the doctor with a creepy, white-flecked throat, and she said it was viral tonsillitis, probably caused by mono. However, because they made me sit in the waiting room for so long (where there are only pregnancy/kid and golf magazines to read, btdubs), the lab was closed and she couldn’t do the official test. She cautioned me to stay away from contact sports (something about a possible exploding spleen) but said I was free to run as much as my energy level allowed. I was a little freaked out – marathon training and mono definitely don’t mix – but feeling very much like myself (only with a scratchy throat), I ignored her contact-cautious advice and went to soccer anyways…and took a shot right to the spleen. That weekend I also muscled out a 2/3/2 tempo run and a 17 mile long run, struggling through both because I was convinced I was sick and weak and wasting my time. It turns out I WAS sick, with short-lived viral tonsillitis, not mono. It’s crazy how your poisoned mind can convince your legs they’re tired. And how little doctors really know.
I’ve also been having some logistic difficulty with my track workouts. In August and September, it is nearly impossible to find an UNLOCKED and UNOCCUPIED track. At first I climbed the fence at a the high school by my house but soon found myself struggling to get back OUT after my track workouts ramped up to double digit repeats. Then I tried to shimmy through the gate at the local Catholic high school (sorry Jesus) but was unsuccessful and quite honestly scared to death of tearing my new Oiselle Rogas. The school where I teach is a two-a-day powerhouse and peewee football paradise, so most recently I found myself mucking out 14x400s at one of our district’s middle schools – on a track with equal amounts cinder, sand, gravel, and goose poop – and running mile repeats at Gullybrook Park, a metro park minutes from my home with a 1.? mile loop of crushed limestone…and a veritable satellite dead zone. Mile repeats get reallllly frustrating when you’re huffing and puffing and turning over like nobody’s business and your GarGar is telling you you’re running an 8:40 pace.
To round off my list of #whinyrunnerproblems, there’s this training plan I’ve been following. It’s badass and was created for me by the fastest runner I know. It’s an Excel extravaganza with comments like “crucial run” and “don’t skip this one” next to split paces, long run goals, and acronyms galore (MGP, T, C, BQ, WU, CD, STFU). Remember last time when I whined about wanting to run fast? Ha! At this point I would just like to run…without thinking. No pace goals, no advanced mental calculations, no labels, no “Oooh, the trails at North Chagrin at 7? I’d love to, but I have 10 800 repeats that day.” It’s stressing me out and turning running into a CHORE. I’ve found solace in the two words on my plan that still make me smile: “CROSS TRAINING.” Boxing and soccer (along with a little thing called “Back to School!”) have helped keep me quasi-sane these past few weeks, and I’ve made time for both, even if it meant skipping [gasp!] a quick run here or there (or everywhere?). Soccer makes me feel fast because I get to outrun 80% of the league, and boxing is my number one stress reliever (oddly enough I’ve recently discovered that getting hit is much more therapeutic for me than hitting someone or something else; I am a freak).
To conclude…yesterday was my longest run of the training cycle – 23 miles that I was hoping to keep under a 9:15 pace. Oops. It was hot, so hot that my shirt came off at mile 18. It was also slow…too slow, especially after my calves both cramped up at 22. But it was definitely 23 miles, and I most definitely dug deep after my brain tried to tell my legs to quit 252 times. So today, I begin a NEW training plan. Do the work, and trust the training. Think good thoughts. Keep your head up. Crazy would be changing your mind. Decide what to be, and go be it. You are more than just enough. I’m not afraid. God knows I’m tough enough. Insert positive mantra here.
I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me
So I just let go of what I know I don’t know
And I know I’ll only do this by
Living in the moment
Living our life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going, I’m already home
Living in the moment
I’m letting myself off the hook for things I’ve done
I let my past go past
And now I’m having more fun
I’m letting go of the thoughts
That do not make me strong
And I believe this way can be the same for everyone