The day I took a DNS

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Signing up, training for, and getting to the start line of a race is an accomplishment in itself. Managing weeks or months of training (injury free) can make the race feel like a completely different entity. It is a finish line beyond a start line.

I ran a fun summer half-marathon. I signed up for the half-marathon when I was full of gusto and inspiration. I was losing a bit of motivation (and speed) by the time the race day came around, but surprised myself by almost running a PB (personal best). I thank the two km’s of downhill along the course for that.

After that I kept running. As usual after a race, my coach ensured I had fun, easy, inspiring, no-time-goal runs. I was reminded of why I love to run.

One day my foot hurt. It was a strange pain under the arch of my toes, like my metatarsal bones were suddenly squished. I stopped, loosened my laces, massaged my foot. It was sore, but I finished the half hour run home.

For the next weeks, between visits to physiotherapy and massage, I kept running. I limped when I wasn’t running. My foot caused me a lot of pain, but in my runner-brain I figured it wasn’t broken so I could probably keep going.

(runningonpb.com)

(runningonpb.com)

I had a marathon planned in six weeks. My mileage was not increasing. I decided that if I could work up to run three hours without altering my stride to compensate for pain, I would run the race. I was currently topped out at two hours and was (literally) limping from a standstill. (Momentum and adrenaline (and sheer stupidity) helped a lot with keeping me going).

Diagnoses were varied as I could never express my symptoms in the same way twice. It was hard to distinguish root causes from deferred pain. The top of my foot would swell (tendonitis) and the side of my foot was sore (stress fracture) and I would get pain under my toes (intermetatarsal neuroma).

I write this the night before the race. I picked up my bib today knowing that tomorrow will be my first DNS (did not start). It happens, certainly. When I talk to other runners they all have a story of the race -usually races- that they had every intention of running, but didn’t. Such is the nature of sport, and life.

Consequently, I have not spent the last week checking the weather every 15 min.

I do not have three different outfits laid out depending on how I may feel in the morning. I am not wondering how many grams of carbs and protein I am eating. I am not strategizing the least amount of time needed to optimally get to both gear check and the port-o-potty in the morning before the start. I am not counting how many hours of sleep I could get tonight. Or how many I got last night, the more important night of rest.

I am still getting up early. I plan to go and watch friends run and take in the atmosphere. I will cheer on their efforts and applaud their dedication and determination. I will embrace the DNS in a new way: as a Daring New Spectator.

I am not a travelin’ girl

I recently read a post about why not to date a girl who travels. The post talks about how girls who travel are independent, forward-thinking, do-it-yourself-ers, free spirited, and worldly. They do not “need” a partner.

Growing up, I travelled. With my family, I went to Europe and Mexico during elementary and high school. In my late teens and early twenties I traveled again with boyfriends or friends: Asia, Europe, and South America. I was that traveling girl. I could change the oil in my car and swap tires. I wanted the road and life to be my education. I couldn’t plan – or forsee myself in – a steady, long-term job. Security was not always a paycheque and I was on the move.

While I wanted a life partner who shared my passions, the boyfriend who came with me to Asia had different ideas as to what travel and exploring the culture entailed. If you can survive traveling with someone, you can also generally get through the mundane with them. This wasn’t us. When we got home from that trip it wasn’t long before we went our separate ways. The idea of life sola was more appealing again.

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I wouldn’t say I was an extrovert growing up but I was the girl at the bar, I was ready to party. I remember in grade 7 I was told I was “domineering.” Later, I had a friend who referred to me for my bluntness as “Tania the truck.” I was sure of myself and my convictions because I didn’t know otherwise. I was never in trouble with the law, but I didn’t always make the smartest decisions. I thought if I stayed home I would be missing out on life.

Time changes us. We have different experiences, we change our focus, we listen to different music.

These days, I am different. I grew up, met my partner, and have a family.  My kids have both worn me out and slowed me down. I am the introvert I always ignored. Crowds make me anxious and I go to bed early. I take my car to a dealership to be serviced.  I am gentler with my emotions and rely on routine. I like the predictability of knowing where I will sleep each night. I find comfort in the fence that surrounds me.

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There are times where I miss the excitement of travel and seeing new places. I do still get the urge to *be* in the world.  But these days there is more of a balance. I don’t begrudge the usual or the normalcy. Reading that post made me think of my old self, a slice of my life, but not in an envious way. I’m glad I had that experience at that point in my life and I wouldn’t have traded it. It helped open my mind, and to get me to where I am today.

I sometimes miss having all the days blend together and wondering how I will afford a plane ticket back home. But then Friday comes, and it’s pay day, and I am home with my family, and I know what to expect. It’s as exciting as I make it. The world to be travelled is still just outside my door.

On being basic

Have you ever wanted to stop doing what you’re doing? Whether it’s a diet, an exercise program, wiping your kid’s butt, or paying for laundry — sometimes we just want to see an end to things.

To me an end means a sense of completion. Or stopping. There is a sense of a finish line we cross and don’t have to keep doing all that hard work. We have achieved our goal and can now just enjoy ourselves. Why doesn’t this happen? Our goals are transient and once we achieve something, it’s almost harder to stay at that level.  It’s like losing 10 lbs but then having to keep it off. It’s not that you won’t ever eat carbs again, it’s that you have to learn to live your life with eating less carbs – most of the time. It’s an attitude and lifestyle change.

I used to imagine that one day I would wake up and things would be perfect. I still think that, although I am much, much less hopeful on the results. I don’t count on it anymore. I hoped that one day I would wake up and my hair would flow in such a way that not one hair curled in the wrong direction, that my waist would be slim and strong and that I could not literally grasp the evidence of overindulgent muffins, and that — from this strange concept of physical beauty — my mental status would be beaming happiness wherever I went.  Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t want Cinderella’s life, but part of me did wish for miraculous transformation that I thought would somehow address what plagued my unhappy state.

Things don’t happen overnight. Change happens cumulatively. I am not perfect.

My running has suffered. My coach has been so patiently listening to me as I cry and flubber about what doesn’t make sense. I analyze and fret about this. I pay for his coaching services, but worry that my fee will not cover him being a friend.

Most of what I feel could be attributed to post-race blues – the high of success followed by a lack of motivation, unexplained fatigue, and lack of direction. I’ve been here before; it took me a few months of slogging after my marathon last year before I finally felt as though I was actually “running” again. It happens. But this time it feels as though I’m addressing more of my sense of expectations.

I’ve run a lot less lately. I’d taken the joy out of running and created a sense of guilt (will get fat if I don’t run), fear (will run slower if I don’t run) and frustration (I don’t like running but I have to run). Exercising like this sucks. It’s tiring and it makes me tired.

Merry-go-round at Boort Victoria

Where it stops, nobody knows… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I process things slowly; change is not my forte. I think part of my general life anxiety is that I tend to create mysterious scenarios that I have to contend with before I can move on or let go of a situation. Worry creates fear creates anxiety creates one tired mama.  I’m tired of being tired. Not just physically, but the mental drag of never enjoying anything.

I feel like I’ve hit bottom. That was about a week ago.  My coach has taken a very different approach with me now — one I could have probably used about 6 years ago, but wasn’t ready to accept until now. My focus is to go and do with zero expectations. There is no finish line or time or number of days I need to do anything. I need to take care of myself and go with what I can do, not with what I expect to do. I just need basics.

It’s funny how accepting common sense is one of the hardest things we’ll ever have to face.