Finding Inspiration

Like most runners, I finish a race and I either mark it for my ‘to race’ list next year or I consider it as a ‘maybe’.  With that decision come goals for improvement or goals to adjust my training.  This year, I think it’s safe to say that I don’t have any race goals; any winter or spring goals went out the window when I got my MRI results.  I can only hope that I will be running by summer and can plan for the fall.  But I am still able to work towards improvimg my training.

Since November, I have been consistent on my bike (albeit on my windtrainer) and, for the past three months, I have been hitting just under 400 miles each month.  Tammy the Hamstring is still not ready to plow through an interval workout, but she doesn’t complain about steady cycling.   In the past month, my average speed has increased and most rides are now 50 to 65 minutes.  That’s progress.

I am also seeing improvement at the yoga studio.  In October, just after tearing my tendon, my list of “can not’s” was huge.  As expected, any balance poses were impossible, as were crescent lunges and twists to either side.  Now, almost 5 months later, my balance is 90% there and I can almost  do a crescent lunge.  Each week, it seems, I watch the bar get a little higher.

As a runner, one of my greatest weaknesses is being comfortable.  Building distance and long runs were easy and I could do them week after week.  But changing things up and doing something different, like moving into the trails or adding tempos or intervals to my week, was a huge step out of my comfort zone.  Fortunately, I have fantastic training partners who made it easier for me to put away my hesitations and take me to where I needed to be.

Now, as a runner nor running, I find myself in that same vicious cycle again.  I am comfortable on the windtrainer and at the yoga studio and I am doing everything that I physically can.  But in the past month, I can feel that my metabolism has jumped, leaving me with this unexplainable need to do more.  The pool is calling me.

The issue is I am not a swimmer.  Years ago, living in a Toronto and during my life without kids, I was swimming.  I climbed into the pool 5 times a week: 3 afternoon distance swims and 2 inteval workouts at 6:00 a.m.  I was slow, but my strokes were good and I averaged 5 – 6 miles a week.  Becoming a mom changed all of that, and I haven’t swam a single length in years.  Getting back into the pool scares me.

On Thursday night, I drove up to Glen Eden with my 13 year old who has been teaching himself to snowboard for the past two winters.  He doesn’t want group lessons; he wants to work at his own pace and do what he wants as he feels ready.  This week, I watched him practise his jumps for the second time, proud that he has made this commitment to snowboarding and that he has done it all on his own.   As we drove home that night, he told me how scared he was before he started and, again, I felt proud, proud that he has pushed himself out of his comfort zone.

“You know you’re inspiring me, don’t you?” I asked.

How?” he asked.

“Because you are doing something that scares you.  You get out there, you do it, and you do it well.  You’re helping me realize that it’s going to take work for me to start swimming again, but I’ll be able to do it.  I just need to get back into the water and start.”  That’s when I made the decision to get in the water before the end of the month.

This morning, coincidentally, while going through a pile of papers, I found a quote by Stephen Hawkings that I had copied in the summer.

“And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.  It matters that you don’t just give up.”

For whatever reason, these words spoke to me many months ago and I wanted to make sure that I remembered them.  After finding them this morning, I’m taking it as a sign. Tomorrow, I will get into the pool, I will push myself out of my comfort zone and I will not give up.

 

 

Timing Isn’t Everything

LVA uniform circleThe past few months of training for Chicago has been a personal journey.    It hasn’t been about gaining bragging rights for finishing one of the world’s biggest marathons, nor has it been about chasing a BQ.   For me, The Chicago Marathon has about mental health, my mental health.

When I registered for Chicago, I saw it as an escape from the previous twelve months:  moving my parents into nursing care and closing the family home, watching my mother progress into the later stages of Alzheimer’s as my dad underwent rounds of chemotherapy; dealing with my own injury that resulted in a leave of absence for weeks;  facing the inevitable in the early spring.  In fact, I entered the lottery for Chicago after my dad passed as I knew that I would need the distraction of training over the summer.   At the end of May, after barely catching our collective breath, my brothers and I buried my mother just seven weeks after my dad.   I made it to the end of the school year knowing that I had something to look forward to: a summer of marathon training.

Going to Chicago has been about me – my recovery.  It has given me the focus I needed – pardon the pun – to get my feet back on the ground.  my teamThrough training, I have had to rebuild my fitness and my running mates have been instrumental in helping me do that.  I watched my mileage climb further than I thought it ever would, found some speed that I had forgotten about and, through regular yoga workouts, rediscovered my abs.  At the same time, I’ve spent the summer resting and catching up on months of lost sleep.  I’ve hung out with my boys and watched their interest in my marathon grow.   I’ve asked my husband for running advice (gasp!).

Today at lunch,  a co-worker asked me what time I’m hoping to run in Chicago.  “I don’t really have one,” I replied.  Her jaw dropped.  “You?” she asked.  “I don’t believe you.”

“I haven’t done much speed work; I’ve really only focused on building distance.  All of my long runs have been around 5 minute kilometres.  But I’m not really worried about time.  I mean, I think I’ll run around 3:30, maybe 3:45.”  She raised her eyebrows again. “I don’t really know, but I’m feeling strong,” I told her.  “Really strong.  I’m feeling fit.  I’m healthy again.”

And she added, “Cynthia, you’re smiling again.  You’ve got that twinkle in your eye back.”

Yup, I do.  And I am ready to take it to Chicago.