It’s National Running Day today, and after a complex 2.5 weeks in my relationship with running, it seems fitting that today was everything I needed it to be.
I finished my first full marathon on May 17th. It was a beautiful day, an amazing course, a rowdy and incredible crowd. It was everything I love about living in Denver rolled up into one very long, very challenging 5 hours and 18 minutes that I’ll never forget.
I came out of marathon day proud, disappointed, sore, feeling “great,” sore, ecstatic, motivated, sore, terrified, and oh, did I mention sore? The emotions that filled me in the days following the Colfax were all over the place. Part of me was furious with myself for not hitting my time – I realize that, as a first timer, it was silly of me to set a goal time to begin with, but I felt so well trained going into the race that I was shocked at how poorly trained I felt coming out of it. On the flip side of that, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for days over the fact that I’d finally completed my first marathon. It felt like the culmination of years of hard work, self-doubt, injuries, and crutches. It felt like every time I questioned myself as a runner had been erased because I’d finally done something that, quite frankly, most people haven’t.
The days following marathon Sunday were filled with ibuprofen, ice baths, foam rolling, and an impossibly challenging exercise in self-control to get myself to refrain from working out for a few days. A family wedding that week took my mind off the rampant desire to go for a run when I knew I shouldn’t.
On Sunday night, after a weekend of dancing and partying and spending time with family, I did something I haven’t done in years. Something I’m not proud of, but something that I think was necessary. Earlier this year, Kelly & I registered for my all-time favorite race, the BolderBoulder 10K, for that Memorial Day Monday. It would be 8 days after the marathon and 2 days after the family wedding. Sunday night, as I nursed my still-aching hamstring and my hangover, I told Kelly I was going to skip.the.race. It’s true – I said no. Let me just say – I’m never the person to skip a race I’ve registered for. I ran a 5K the day after my December half. I ran my March half after a rough flare-up of ITBS and a sinus infection. But this time, I listened to my body and let myself relax enough to feel like I deserved a break. It was tough to think about missing my favorite race, but not as rough as the thought of waking up early after a crazy 8 days seemed. Again, I became flooded with disappointment in myself for saying no… and excitement and joy over the ability to catch up on rest.
I continued to let myself take my time with my recovery a few more days, stretching at night and enjoying the break from my own reality. I consumed myself in other activities and seeing friends, and it almost scared me to think how much I was enjoying the time off the road. I briefly contemplated why the hell I’ve decided to run a second marathon this fall. I briefly contemplated yoga and swimming and 10Ks instead.
But today was National Running Day. And when I woke up this morning, despite still recovering from a cold, I finally felt the urge again to get back out there and run. Naturally, I came home from work ready to rock out a quick few miles, and by the time I suited up, there was thunder and lightning and a downpour of rain. I waited it out a little, and just as I walked out the door, it felt like the clouds parted just long enough for me to squeak out a quick 2 miles. For the first time in a long time, I was running for me and not to train, and it.felt.great. I only got in 2 miles, but my speed and cadence felt strong. I felt like me again. I felt whole again. And those moments of questioning my MCM entry – gone. Caput. Done.
It’s cliché and glorious all at once that I got my mojo back on National Running Day. But cliché or not, today brought me back to earth and reminded me why, even when I’m battling an array of emotions, the best place to find my calm is out on the road.
Happy National Running Day to you all! I hope everyone got out there today, even for .5 miles or 5 miles or even 50.