Serious runners are notorious for doing stupid things. Why else would we revel in being part of groups named “Marathon Maniacs”, “Half Fanatics”, or “Idiot’s Running Club”? I guess you just have to BE one, to KNOW one, so to speak. I didn’t realize I was getting sucked into this culture of crazies until it was too late to care. And, for the record, no matter what anyone might tell you about me, it was just an inevitable matter of time. I have been faking “normalcy” for years.
A year ago this week, I had never run more than 10 miles at one time. (2 ½ years earlier, I decided to try jogging, after having had a medical procedure to remove/cauterize nerves in my spine that were responsible for 10+ years of excruciating lower back pain.) After training for my very first ever organized race to commemorate my monumental 50 years on this planet, I ran in the Portland, Oregon Shamrock Run 5k
Yep, that’s me in the middle. Don’t be jealous.
Fast forward to 2011; 2 years later. That year I completed 3 10k’s and a handful of 5k’s, then I happened to have the privilege of running a friend in for the last 5 miles of her first full marathon; the Portland Marathon. With tears in my eyes I watched her run full force toward the finish line. I felt pride beyond words at her accomplishment, yet I knew she was crazy for having committed all that time to the necessary training she endured. I contemplated this for all of about 5 minutes, when I decided that I needed to amp up my running resume.
Soon afterward, I decided that I needed to train for a half marathon. A FULL one was completely out of the question. (Another day I will blog about the journey to that milestone, and the not-so-smart-idea of doing my first and second marathons-within two weeks of each other. Hey,-to-qualify-for-Marathon-Maniacs, but today I will tell you about my accidental journey that lead me to sign up my very first triathlon at age 53.)
In the 12 months following my friend Suzanne’s marathon, I ran a 15K, 2 10K’s, 2 half marathons, a Ragnar 200 mile Relay, and 2 full marathons.
The 15K was in March, the first marathon in September. I pulled an Achilles tendon pretty badly in the Shamrock Run (March) and trained in various stages of injury for the 7+ months afterward. Every day I iced, heated, took anti inflammatory meds, or wrapped my foot and kept training. Then In December, I had an MRI that stopped me dead in my tracks. Two torn tendons and a torn muscle in my left ankle.
I would need 8 + weeks of no running, physical therapy, and then be re evaluated. That was the bad news. The good news was that I could cycle and I could swim. WHAT??? It was December in Oregon. Cold. Wet. Windy. The voices in my head woke up and said, “Get your sorry ass out of there and MOVE!” You are 53 years old! If you don’t keep moving you will get OLD!
So, I found my dusty, flat tired bicycle in the garage and after 3 failed attempts, pumped up the tires and headed out for my first ride in God knows how many years. To say that I was reunited with an old friend is too cliche, but boy did it feel good. I even sung out loud on the bike path that day.
I had an equally positive experience when I donned my bikini and found a nice warm indoor pool. I remembered to breath and kick, and somehow managed not to drown myself while splashing across the lane. After not swimming laps for 24+ years, it felt so natural to be in the water. Granted, my technique left something to be desired, my breathing was messy, and I couldn’t force myself to do more than 8 laps, but I knew I would be back.
The way my mind works, it was natural for me to think there was a competitive opportunity here…, swim and bike…..running again soon. Tri anyone? So I started looking online for triathlons in Oregon. One’s that had indoor pools. I am not ready to commit to an open water race in the Pacific Northwest, Call me a wimp, I don’t care. Perhaps another time I might consider that, but not yet. There is one in June that I think I am going to sign up for. WE shall see!
That old saying that when one door closes, another one opens is true. So what if I had to stop running for a while? There are other ways to keep fit, healthy, happy, and sane. If you find yourself facing disappointment, let yourself cry for as long as you need, put down the wine glass, and decide to do something. Positive. Healthy. Go outside for 30 minutes and breathe deeply. Fill your lungs, recognize that you are alive and worthy of happiness. Decide to move beyond the negative thoughts. It won’t be easy at first-after all you are a beast; an athlete. You train 5-6 days a week, and eat miles for breakfast. The world won’t end. It will wait for you. Try something new and see where it takes you. I did.
Let me know what you do or did to overcome an injury.
Running in Muck