I could feel my heart get heavy by the second mile- constantly checking my clock, I felt this weight of agony that I think only “shame” can provide. Two days prior, I ran 3 minutes from my PR in a race that I had come to love, thus completing my fourth race in 6 months where I threw in the towel.
I thought a trail run would fix my head, but all I could think about in those first 2 miles were these two ropes pulling me in completely opposite directions.
One, led me to think that I should feel shame for letting my body run, as my paces, recovery, and mannerisms needed to resemble someone who was “reformed”. Intense, but not intense like I was before. Fast, but nothing threatening. Strong, but with a recognition of how weak I am.
The other string was pulling me away from thinking about my own feelings of self worth, and placing them in a performance. A time. Some medal. A standard. More intense. More swift. More strong.
Life is easier when you are pulled in…^
At some point, I broke. I let go of the ropes and went buck-wild through the forest. I stopped upwards of 10 times to catch my breath, fighting the humidity and post-race fatigue. But I sprinted like a mother-fer. As I looked at my pace afterwards, its ebbs and flows as I made my way through tactical mud and heavenly gravel trail, I felt no attachment to the numbers. It was quick, but it was more than that.
This week, I have cried at least 5 times as I think about the upcoming marathon.
I told Mitch “I don’t know if I can run this without my addictions and I have my self worth in the outcome” and I felt this liberation for finally speaking the truth and coming to terms with what I am feeling. Tears were dripping down my face as I paced the hallway around my work lobby, frantically trying to find out what I am running for within the span of a 5 minute conversation.
These are all first-world problems, but I can feel it on my chest as it strips my breath away. Sometimes, I go running and my throat closes up. The doubt, feelings of worthlessness, and loneliness are there. And then I think back to that trail run and the reason why I started to run races in the first place.
Every time I see a new “Mile Marker’s” blog post on Runner’s World, I say in my head, literally, “And now we read the Gospel of Kristin Armstrong”. It is blasphemy, but Jesus gets it.
Kristin is a firm believer in running as a metaphor for life, something that I have lost tough with this past year. I can feel it every time I see a split on my watch, or see a hill I have to climb. But I’ll be damned if the marathon loses its metaphorical magic this Saturday.
Maybe this marathon is a metaphor for me working through my problems. Maybe, a representation of me doing something for myself for the first time in my life. The pain of life. The value in suffering. The importance in staying in the present moment. The trouble with putting your self worth in finish times. Running with the knowledge that I am never alone. Living life for myself. Living life knowing it isn’t all about me/I am not the only one hurting. What “real” goals look like.
In the spirit of Kristin, I am setting an intention for this thing:
My intention is to give myself the permission to thrive.
It won’t look like a race strategy, or a goal pace, or a finish time, or a place.
It will look like me letting myself run these 26.2 miles, reviewing and hammering in my head why I do this. That, at the end of the day, running adds to our lives, it doesn’t make our lives. It is lessons, toughness, tenderness, and faith all wrapped into this emotionally daunting package that when I think about it, my breath is taken away. Thriving is wholehearted, present, and means “to flourish”. I imaging my bff Jackie P. planting some bulb and a beautiful thing blossoms up. You can’t measure “thriving” in a spreadsheet (see this article)
This marathon is about pulling the weeds and replanting what I believe in. The sacredness in running. The lessons that come with it. The strength forged with each stride. My faith that is made more resilient.
I have 26.2 miles to bloom and thrive.
Good thing it’s spring.