Sunday, May 4, 2008
i'll do it, if you do it
women tend to operate as a tribal unit; going to the bathroom together, holding hands while the mole doctor singes off something potentially malignant, or venturing into victoria's secret during their semi-annual sale. do-ing together means that things happen, they get done. the decision to train for a marathon was a collective one. much like the decision to wear running shoes (and matching socks) to the kentucky derby, the day before a long training run. one person would be sooo; "what not to wear", two would be; "cooler than bjork wears".
today our goal was 23 magical miles, although we planned to walk 3 first, for a total mileage of 26. we did everything "right"; behaved ourselves at derby, went to bed early, wore newly broken in shoes, hydrated, and ate our energy snacks. the only minor snafu was the post-derby strapless dress sunburn now rubbing against straps. in fact, all was well until a misplaced foot resulted in an elegant full body faceplant at mile 18. fortunately this provided delirious giggling to entertain us through mile 20, until numb feet gave way to acute pain in the left hip; my IT band had finally surrendered. while mind games can stave off boredom and fatigue, when the body packs it in, no recitation of the alphabet backwards, or visualization of assorted co-workers in a jello wrestling match, can ameliorate the pain.
so i started to cry. unfortunately i couldn't even do that successfully, as sobbing and trying to breathe while running is just not possible. this led to a downward spiral of self-flagellation that i was now one of "those girls" (who cried). of course, short term memory had already erased a lecture i delivered last week to a new moutain biker; "we have ALL cried on the trail". i cried because i hurt/couldn't breathe/had only come 21.5 of the 23 miles/had to WALK. "other" people (oprah winfrey/katie holmes/puff daddy) had run 26 miles, what was MY problem? my buddy later told me that she was relieved to see me stop and cry; to see that i was "human" (that did not make two of us). i recently saw an interview between kristin and lance armstrong where they agreed that 20 miles is the true, first "half" of a marathon. despite the laws of conventional mathematics, i would have to agree.
ultimately, i committed to marathon training because i felt that it would be an important 'character building life lesson'. to know i could do something challenging, in spite of the pain and self doubt-- like committing to a relationship.
in theatre, a crappy dress rehearsal means a great performance. but i think i forgot that part of a good life lesson, the part where the learning takes place, is not done while coasting along feeling good, but when you have to stop and pull over, recognize where you are, how far you've come, and acknowledge that this is tough right now, but it will get better. and that crying (and walking) is normal, permitted, and even "ok". fortunately i have a very patient, and supportive running buddy who was able to let me drape my crusty self all over her, and "escort" me to the finish.
we burned 2,689 calories, unfortunately i am unable to negotiate the short distance to the fridge to replace any of them.