Today is marathon day. If I close my eyes I can feel the brisk air and see the anxious and enthusiastic runners that anticipate the starting gun. If I quiet myself, I can hear the chatter of so many people who have put in months of training and disciplined themselves to run miles and miles to reach this moment. In my minds eye I can see myself lacing up my shoes and stretching. I can even feel the butterflies in my stomach as I wonder if I will feel okay, who I might meet, and anticipate the excitement of greeting my family at the finish line.
This is all in my imagination, of course, as it has been seven weeks since my last run. My running log was left abandoned at mile 1422 after an 11 mile run on August 30th. My running shoes have been replaced with an enormous, open toed black boot adorned with Velcro that makes quite the fashion statement. The hours I spent on the open road have been traded for doctors visits, MRIs and physical therapy. Talk around our house has shifted from race day planning to whether or not I should go ahead with surgery.
What a difference a month makes.
This running hiatus is something that I have feared for a very long time. I would often think to myself, what would I do if I couldn’t run? It was never an idea I entertained for long because I was quite certain that not running would lead to a complete mental breakdown.
Lo and behold, though, I’m doing quite fine.
(In full disclosure I feel I should admit that I’ve had my moments of tearfulness, anger, emotional breakdowns and yes, even blaming my doctor for my injury. . . of course it couldn’t have anything to do with running 50 miles a week despite a very distinct pain in my foot.)
They have been just moments, however, and for the most part I am doing fine. And even more important,
I’m learning. . .
The most important lesson?
I’m not just a runner.
As I experience this life outside of running I recognize how much I have lived in a tight box of experience in which I have been too focused or distracted to see a different view of the world. And if I’m being really honest, somewhere beyond my conscious awareness lies the thought. . . running is something I know I can do well. . . what if I don’t do anything else with the same success?
Today I answer the question very differently than I might have several weeks ago. . . I am learning that life is about the experience, not the accolades. It is about walking or perhaps running forward. . . even when I am scared. It is about dipping my toe in the water of the unknown and then wading away from the shore of familiarity. As the saying goes. . . the only failure is the failure to try. . .
Over the last several weeks I’ve learned a few things. . .
* I have learned that I just might have a creative side.
*I’ve learned that I enjoy writing.
*I’ve learned that I see moments of time differently when I look through the lens of a camera.
*I’ve learned that pounding away on the keyboard, in this space, has much of the same effect as the pounding of the pavement I did a few weeks ago.
*I’ve learned that even though I’m not running. . . I am still a runner. . . I have a runner’s mind.
*I’ve learned that there are ways to challenge myself, daily, that have nothing to do with mile splits or distance run.
*I’ve learned that I was the only one that really defined myself by my running.
*I’ve learned that running is just something I do. . . not who I am.
*I’ve learned that I can have more than just one passion.
Marathon season for 2010 is over for me. I can’t help but wonder if I would have learned these things had I been on that starting line today. Perhaps I would have. . . perhaps not. Either way, I’m happy with where I am and absolutely thrilled to continue to peer out of my running-box and see what else this world has in store.
One thing is for sure, though. . . I will run again.