Monthly Archives: July 2010

The Carrot

This running life is not always fun.  Looking back over my online running log and all of the times I have clicked the little happy face to say it was a “great run,” I am afraid that my new-to-running friends might be getting the wrong impression about my running life.  I do enjoy the benefits of being fit.  I enjoy the fact that while I watch other people have to sit and take breaks while walking around the National Zoo, it is just a stroll in the park for me.  I enjoy the fact that on our vacation to Maine this summer we were able to bike into parts of Acadia Park that the average person might not get to see. I love the fact that my kids know I can keep up with their active lives.

I also know there are benefits to my healthy lifestyle that go beyond just enjoying myself. Earlier this summer, I started a new breast cancer screening program at our local Breast Center.  The idea is to get a baseline sonogram of my breast tissue to use against future screenings.  The first thing the doctor said to me was how nice it was that there was no fat to have to look through – how much easier it made it to get a good look.  This isn’t the first time a doctor has pointed out a benefit to being fit for screening purposes.

Of course, there are hundreds of studies that tout the benefits of staying fit and living a healthy lifestyle.  Fit people are less likely to have heart issues, diabetes, bad knees, strokes and the list goes on and on.

These are all things I am aware of, but when that alarm sounds at 6am and I know I need to get out of the bed and lace up my shoes, those things don’t seem all that important.  On those mornings all I want to do is crawl back under the covers and enjoy another hour of sleep.  Even on the mornings when I am ready to jump out of bed and go for those runs, it isn’t a guarantee that the run will be fun or even slightly enjoyable.  Yes, I love running but, that is a general statement.  I love running and biking and swimming.  I love being active.  But still, I don’t always love them.  Not every run, swim or ride is inspiring.  Many of them kick my butt.  Some of them are down right horrible.

I hope that people who look at my training log or read my blog will see the good runs for what they are.  They are a blessing that make me keep going back out there.  They are the carrot for all the sticks I have to put up with on the bad ones.  Being fit is fun and beneficial in a thousand ways.  And while the workouts are almost always beneficial, they are not always fun.  The trick, at least my trick, is to keep reaching for that carrot.  Keep rolling out of the bed on those mornings when I want to sleep and heading out the door slogging my way through a not so fun run in search of that run that brightens the world around me, that ride that makes me feel like a ten year old girl again or that swim that washes away all the worries of my day.


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I wasn’t bitten by a spider or dunked in radioactive waste.  I am not from a far away galaxy.  Still, I seem to have developed a super power.  Okay, it might not be a real super power but it is a power that I never expected to find within myself.

For most of my life, when it comes to my goals, I have been Little Miss Rigidity.  Even as a child I was single-minded when it came to meeting a goal.  As an adult this rigidity has caused me more trouble than I care to mention and yet I still found myself pushing toward goals that I should have given up on. The biggest area of rigidity for me was in my running. I would schedule a marathon, come up with the training plan and run – no matter what.  You might think I would have learned that this was not the way to go after I ran the Fort William Marathon in Scotland with a fractured tibia and had to take six months off of running because of the damage caused.  But, no.  You might think I would have learned after completing three months of training for the Baltimore Marathon with a stomach virus from hell.  But, alas, no.

This year I ruptured my plantar fascia.  This injury did not develop overnight.   The plantar fascia had been hurting for 18 months and yet I ran.  The morning it finally ruptured, I knew something was exponentially worse than it had been and I decided I would go to the doctor – right after my speedwork.  So I hobbled to the gym and started the workout telling myself that I would stop after the warm up if it was still hurting.  Of course, Little Miss Rigidity didn’t do that.  I decided to see if the first set of sprints would make the pain go away.  It was only a minute into the first set that I heard and felt the pop.

After weeks in a boot and months of physical therapy, I still signed up for two marathons this fall.  I had a goal, dammit.  I had to qualify for Boston.  My single mindedness found me aiming at the goal no matter what the foot was saying.  Until, somehow, I found I had been bitten by that spider or dunked in radioactive waste and suddenly I was Elastigirl.  Suddenly I found myself enjoying the cross-training Coach Jeff had scheduled into my training plan to bring me back without injury.  Suddenly, I found myself being honest about the pain in my foot.  Suddenly, I found myself with a super power that allowed me to step back and be honest about my chances of qualifying for Boston in October.

In the past this decision would have been gutting.  I would have spent weeks mourning the loss of the marathon, cursing my foot and crying into my Gatorade.  But this time, I found a freedom in giving up the goal.  Instead of looking at what I was losing, I was able to see the possibilities that it opened up.  I could see the possibility of running pain free and not worrying about pushing through the pain that was already beginning to resurface, but more than that, I was able to see an opportunity I had missed in the past.  This year instead of running sick or injured, I will be riding.  I have the chance for the first time in 16 years to ride the Sea Gull Century in Salisbury, Maryland.  It has been there all the time.  It was a possibility so many times in the past but I chose to ignore it in pursuit of “the goal.”

So, no, I am not “faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” But I am able to bend and make choices beyond the goals I have set for myself.  I am able to change things up a little and work towards something new.  I am Elastigirl.

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