Why It's Killing Me Inside To Be Here Now
Tomorrow morning, I am supposed to be running 13.1 miles in the Indianapolis Mini Marathon.
At least, that's what the registration indicates.
Image from http://www.500festival.com/mini-marathon
In reality, tomorrow morning I will be probably still be snuggled up in my bed while thousands of people line up to run.
And it's killing me inside.
Seven months ago, my husband signed us up for this, which would've been our third time running it in 4 years. (You can watch a video of my first experience in the half marathon HERE.) We started training around the sign-up time. Each week, we added a bit more to our distance. I got up to around five miles for my longest distance, when I started having some pain in my foot. Instead of getting it looked at, I just backed off on mileage. I haven't had pain since then, but I also kept using it as an excuse not to get back into distance training. And my husband? Well, he just didn't run.
Seven months later, here we are.
Today I drive up to Indianapolis to pick up our race packets. (We couldn't transfer the entries, and we paid for them, so at the very least we'll get the nifty race shirts.)
Usually, I love the expo. It's filled with thousands of energized, if not anxious people. (The race has sold out for the past 11 years, drawing 35,000 participants.) There are rows of booths selling running gear, food, gel packets, sunglasses, catchy-slogan-ed t-shirts, and every bit of race gear possible. At the back of the expo is where you pick up your race bibs and bag filled with goodies.
I love walking into the huge room, feeling a deep sense of camaraderie with each person, and offering and receiving knowing smiles from those feeling the same.
This year, I feel like I fraud.
And every night for the past couple of months, I've been dreading this day.
When training, you usually add no more than a mile per week to your distance runs. Most training routines have you getting to at least 10 miles for your longest run before the half marathon. That means that ten weeks ago, I was still ok to run. (I still run regularly, usually three miles a few times a week.) Nine weeks ago, I was still ok to run the mini. Eight weeks ago, I could still justify the entry.
And then I started getting nervous. I had to make a choice. As each week rolled past, I kept thinking I could make up for it - possibly adding two miles to the long run the next week.
But by not deciding to run the longer distance each week, I was making a decision not to run the half marathon. I just didn't want to admit it to myself. I'm not kidding - I thought about this every single night while falling asleep. And the guilt started to eat away at me.
And now, the day before the race, things have gotten really interesting.
And here's where this situation applies to everyone - even non-runners.
My choices in the past have determined where I am right now. It doesn't matter if I regret those choices, or if I want to be somewhere different,
Here is where I am.
And "here" is the point where it has become blatantly obvious that I cannot run the mini.
But part of me is still tries to justify running in it.
I am fighting with what is.
So here are my options for the next 48 hours:
1) I participate in the half marathon tomorrow.
I come up with the excuses: I can walk if I get tired. I've increased my pace and can easily do three miles, so why not just do three miles, four+ times over? I've paid for the entry - I might as well go.
Yeah - I can hear the absurdity just reading those.
(For anyone questioning if those are valid excuses, I will tell you right now - they are not. Could I walk thirteen miles? Probably. Is it a smart idea? No. Could I hurt myself? Yes. It is worth it? No.)
2) I don't participate, and pretend I'm fine with not doing so.
I have plenty of excuses for this one, too. It's supposed to rain Saturday morning - thank heavens I'm not running in that! Thirteen point one miles? No thanks. I got to spend every Sunday morning for the past few months with my kids instead of out for two to four hours training. I get a mini-marathon tech-shirt and don't have to run - sounds good to me!
But really, there's no point in lying to myself nor anyone else. I'm NOT feeling ok about this. Which leads me to the third option:
3) I don't participate and continue to acknowledge and sit with the discomfort that arises.
This is the hardest option by far. (Yes, even harder than run/walking 13.1 miles.) But it is the one that will be of most benefit to me on Sunday, next week, and every day after that.
I keep myself safe and don't risk injury by pushing this. I acknowledge my feelings instead of trying to repress or ignore them. And I learn from this, knowing that this feeling sucks far worse than the temporary dread I have on the mornings of long training runs.
I fully open myself to this experience and will use this awareness when making decisions in the future.
Whether or not you are a runner, I'm sure you've experienced this feeling.
I'm sure you know what regret, frustration, and guilt feels like. (Have you ever tried a diet and given up on it? Perhaps started a class and not finished? Or set any goal for yourself that you didn't reach, out of no fault other than your own? Yeah, that feeling.)
We can all learn from this, and hopefully remain aware of what we've learned as we take each next step.
Every step, every decision, every indecision matters. Instead of fighting what is, I'll continue to practice simply being with it, and using what I've learned to consciously participate in this moment.
As you read this, I'm probably standing in the expo, feeling lost, out of place, and still full of regret. But I'm also there. I'm fully experiencing that regret alongside the smiles of the excited runners. I'm there with my race bag, there with catchy t-shirt I know I want to buy, there with my roller-coaster of emotions, there with my fellow runners and non-runners.
I'm there for it all.
And that's what matters.
You want indecisive? I'll GIVE you indecisive. Here for the whole world to view.
I picked up our packets. I was in and out of that expo hall in less than 10 minutes. No time to soak it all in, to be tempted. And yet...
I put it out there to all of my FB friends and acquaintances that I wasn't running, but that it bothered me that I wasn't. Support flooded in, encouragement and options if, say, I DID want to run, but support either way.
And now, here it is, 3:41 p.m. on Friday. And guess what?
At 7:30 a.m. tomorrow morning, this body will be moving 13.1 miles. Whether I'm running, walking, crawling, or being picked up by the back-of-the-line bus, I'll be at the start line....and the finish line. I'll be there for it all.
I'll let you know how it goes....