When I signed up for this marathon, I’d put about five minutes of thought into it. I’ve done 3 already, so I assumed it didn’t require massive amounts of planning at this point. Register, choose a training plan/method, execute, race. Done.
I failed to take into consideration some factors that would affect my training. We already had our Summer planned, and not around a marathon training schedule. All my kids would be home. My husband travels. All my kids would be home. We had several trips planned. It’s hot here. All my kids would be home. Also, it’s hot.
I’ve trained for an October marathon before and did just fine. Surely, this couldn’t be any different right?
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to fold some laundry, against my better judgement. I should have known it prefers to stay loosely lying on the counter, unfolded and content, happy in its disheveled place.
I scooped up my load that was on the counter in the laundry room and as I picked it up the iron dropped out from under the clothes and fell on my foot, breaking my little toe. After blurting out a few expletives, I pulled myself together and looked down to see the damage. Honestly, I thought a giant glass jar that we keep on the counter to hold gum balls(I’m not even kidding. It’s been there since Lila’s 3rd birthday ha!) had fallen and shattered on my foot. That’s how amazing it felt. It was a lovely moment for me, read: not my finest moment. At all.
This injury happened after weeks of PT for some issues with my hips and lower back. Following the toe incident, school happened. I had a 4 day migraine, an identity crisis with lots of tears, followed by a sinus infection that I am finally starting to come back from. Yesterday, I ran a very slow 3 miles in the air conditioning and it felt as successful as a marathon. It was my first run over a mile in 5 weeks. Praise.
And so. Here I am. Back at the beginning. Square one. An entire Summer spent battling obstacles to running and training, and I’m thankful for a mile with no pain. And that, I guess, is the point. Always gratitude. Setbacks make you thankful for what you do have and for what you can do don’t they?
Every morning, after I take the kids to school and Jake heads for the bus stop, I walk the dogs. Yesterday as I was walking, I saw an older man on the adjacent sidewalk with a walker and a knee brace. He was moving slowly, but moving still. He spoke to me and talked about how cute Penny is, and then he kept on down the sidewalk, focussed on his task. His task was not running 20 miles. It wasn’t on lifting all the weight or having the six pack. His goal was to walk. And it spoke volumes to me.
I’m healthy, and for that I am SO thankful. My hip is improving which is a miracle as it’s been an ongoing issue for the past 4 years. I can go about day-to-day activities with no pain. Huge. This week, I ran again. Praise. I’m able to use my body, all 4 limbs with no assistance and I can start over. I have the luxury of starting over. It’s not a punishment or something to bemoan. It’s a luxury. I GET to start a new training plan and make new goals. I’m not bound by physical limitations, at least not yet. Life happens. Sometimes training goes as planned, other times you have to resign to what your season is, and to the fact that your attention is better off elsewhere.
I’ve watched this Summer as other runner’s and triathletes have trained for and completed high mileage weeks or ironman training, without a hitch, or so it seems. But something always has to give in order to accomplish a goal. Whether time or rest or work or family or freedom. Something goes in order to obtain something else. And I was ready to make those sacrifices in order to make this marathon happen, but God had other plans.
And so, this marathon had to be placed on hold, to better my health and in order to be more present and available. We had a great Summer, and had I been healthy, I would have trained as planned and we still would have had a great Summer. But I would have spent all of my vacations worried about long runs and hating the heat and humidity. I would have pushed through hip issues that had gone unassisted for years, possibly putting running on hold for a very long time. And for what? To say I’ve done 4 marathons?
Running 26.2 miles isn’t what makes me a runner. It’s not the standard against all runner’s should compare themselves. Do you enjoy running? Awesome. You’re a runner. But I hope and pray that it’s not where you place your worth, value, or identity. Because as I’ve seen and experienced, the ability to run could be gone tomorrow. Then what? This is something I have to keep in check. Not taking too much pride in this sport. Staying humble and grateful even when I can’t run. Because I may not always have this gift. And it’s a gift. So today, I’ll run my slow treadmill miles and appreciate the option to run or to fold laundry, but I think you know which one I’ll choose.