Sunday Sips, Not Strides
What are you up to today?
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Spend your day being unabashedly YOU!
It is Sunday morning. Rain is pouring down, but it’s not freezing outside.
Where I am: at my desk, cup of coffee in hand, and two dogs lying at my feet.
Where I am not: on the start line for the Jersey City Marathon. My bib sits in a box somewhere with the rest of the unclaimed tags.
I’m okay with this.
I’m not not running because of the rain. Of course not! I’m not running because of multiple muscle strains and an overall sense of burnout.
Saying no to this race wasn’t an easy decision. Saying no to cool opportunities is never an easy thing for me. Remember my article about taking on too much? Say hell yeah or say no, right? But what about when there are too many hell yeahs? What to do then?
It seems I learned a bit of a lesson.
I said the definitive no to this race on Friday after a short run with Lincoln. It was a good outing on a beautiful spring morning. But, my achy muscles kept my pace slow. I knew that running 3x as long in two days’ time was a terrible idea. My doctor and acupuncturist had both cleared me for the race. There would be no lasting damage from running–but there would’ve been a lot of pain.
Why do that to myself? Why do something just because I signed up for it? Just because I said yes at an earlier date, in a different state of physical readiness, doesn’t mean I have to see it through. Hell yeah? Nah, I’m okay sitting this one out.
I’m proud of me for being so comfortable with this. I like knowing that skipping this race doesn’t reflect at all poorly on my ability or determination.
Of course, friends and family have all reassured me that that was true, that I should listen to my body and not stress it. It’s different hearing it vs. knowing it for yourself. This round, I know it for myself as well.
Besides, I have another race next weekend. ;)
Why the burnout?
2023 is my Spartan Trifecta year. If you don’t know, Spartan is a brand of obstacle course races (OCR) held all over the world. They are (usually) trail runs featuring obstacles such as walls to climb, barbed wire to crawl under, mud to swim through, and so much more. This year, I have committed to running all three distances: 5k, 10k, and 21k (3.1 miles, 6.2 miles, 13.1 miles).
If you think I sound bonkers, then realize that many people do this in a single weekend. I have a healthy respect for these warriors. I do not wish to be one.
But if you think I sound bonkers for doing OCRs at all, I will tell you what I told my friend when I talked her into racing with me: it’s basically an adult playground. It’s so fun and so freaking hard all at once!
I digress. My trifecta year. On New Year’s Day, I set about scheduling the races I’d run to complete this challenge. And, as it turned out, the most practical and possible configuration of dates had me running the Spartan Beast (21k) first.
Before that race, I had run four Sprints (5k) and two Supers (10k). But the Beast was a whole new level of challenge. I went into training in January for the March 18 race. On the 17th, I flew to Atlanta and stayed with my sister for the night. The next morning, in 35 degree weather, I crossed the start line. 14.8 total miles, 30 obstacles, and an epic amount of mud later, I jumped the fire pit and completed my Spartan Beast. AROO!!
It was the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done. I ran with piles of mud under my toes. I ran wet. I ran up hills of red Georgia clay and back down. I did every obstacle I could and took the penalty loops or burpees for the ones I couldn’t. But, dammit, I did it!
A good teacher understands the concept of rigor. Rigor is designing learning so that students must stretch themselves to grasp the proverbial bar of understanding. If the bar is too low, it’s not challenging and thus the students aren’t learning. If the bar is too high, the students aren’t able to learn because the concepts aren’t (yet) within their reach. Remember the teachers you thought were hard. Now remember the teachers you thought were tough, but you knew you learned a lot from them. That’s the difference.
The Spartan Beast was almost too high a bar for me. I could complete it and did–quite well, actually. My times/ranks were excellent in my opinion. However, it was so demanding that it was very nearly beyond my grasp. It took everything out of me. In the following days and weeks, that reality really set in. I knew I was tired after I finished. I didn’t realize how drained I was until I was back at home in New Jersey.
Today’s half marathon had been on the calendar since before I signed up for the Beast. And my second leg of the trifecta, the Spartan Sprint, is next weekend here in Jersey. I had figured that, following the Beast, I would simply maintain my training program for another month. In the five weeks since that race, I have indeed resumed training, albeit not as aggressively as before. I sustained a ligament strain in my foot from running with mud under my toes for so long. That set back my running routine. Then, last week, I tore a quad on a 10-mile training run. That was really the moment that I began to doubt my commitment to the marathon.
I realize that this article is heavy on technical speak about running and races. Forgive me. The real point is the philosophy of motivation and perseverance. But I think it’s important to describe the experience in order to make my motivation clear.
I love working my body. I love seeing what I can push myself to do. I never in my life thought I’d classify as an “athlete,” but here I am, talking about torn quads and half marathons.
For a kid who hated her body and took a poor grade in PE just to avoid running, that’s pretty freaking remarkable.
So it’s understandable, I think, that learning to say no is about more than missing an experience. It’s about quieting the shadow in me that says saying no means that I’m lazy. A quitter. Unable to rise to the task.
I’ll be on the race course next Sunday morning. For now, I’m going to snuggle my puppies and finish this coffee. I hope your day brings you exactly what you need as well.
First skiing, now this. Maybe 2023 is the year I learn to say hell no as well as I say hell yeah.
What are you doing today?