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Furona Challenge My Story

“Hard is OK.”

This feels like the second part of my previous blogpost, so if you didn’t catch my last marathon recap, maybe read this first: http://struckbystride.com/hail-mary/

After Mississippi, life was a whirlwind of new work schedules, travel, and holidays. I took a break from training and had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t believe in myself anymore. The joy and passion for the sport had been rekindled, but I lost faith that I could accomplish my goals, and I had been denying it for months.

How do I get my belief back? How did I lose it? I was becoming more and more discouraged and one day Kyle looks at me and asks me if I’m okay. I told him “No, I’m not – this is hard, and I’m tired.” And then he simply responds with “Hard is okay.” I stopped putting my laundry away and stared at the wall as a bunch of memories flooded in. They were memories of me doing physically hard things and having a blast. I loved doing hard things. Hard things are fun. Hard things are good.

When training resumed, I remembered that “hard is ok.” I took that with me into my workouts. That caused me to grasp more the the mindset training I had been working on, too. I had several light bulb moments. I had to start going into training sessions believing that the speed was already there, and training was just to help unveil it. I already have it. In a sense, I’ve already accomplished my goals. Instead of building to make something, I’m digging to uncover. This led to another mindset realization.

I have had the attitude that even though I didn’t do track or cross-country, even though my parents weren’t runners, even though I have wide hips, even though I’ve already done x amount of marathons,….I can still progress so much – the attitude of despite. I needed to change that. I needed to believe that I was perfectly set up to accomplish my goals. I started running at the perfect age. I have the perfect genes for this. Not only was I born to do this, I was BRED for it. I was done wishing and hoping, and ready to start being and doing.

I had four weeks of scheduled training before the Sun Marathon. I felt good about the time that I had to resume training before another race. I was seeing paces in my workouts I hadn’t seen in two years. The mind and the heart were back together again!

On race morning I was calm, yet still excited. From alarm to race start everything went smooth. There was a slight concern when the bus dropped us off and we realized the first 2-3 miles were going to be on snow and ice, but I dismissed the worry and knew I’d just have to be cautious the first few miles.

After getting out of the snow, I really started grooving. I wasn’t looking at my splits, I was just going hard and having fun. I was properly fueled and hydrated, my legs felt great, and the weather was pretty much perfect. The course was an overall net downhill with rollers all throughout. At about mile 10 I felt some strain in my right calf and right hamstring. I figured it was because of the road slanting. The course was open to traffic so we had to stay on the very edge, too. A few miles later and the twinges seemed to work themselves out, so I didn’t worry.

Mile 18 came and this time the hamstring pain was back and it wasn’t going away. I slowed a little and decided to re-assess at mile 20. It had gotten a little worse then, so I considered dropping out and the logistics. I figured the amount of time to find someone with a cellphone to call Kyle and then have him drive to pick me up would be about the same as finishing slowly, so I stopped to walk for a few minutes to see if that would help. It didn’t make it better, but it didn’t make it worse, so I kept going and started running again. I walked a little more and tried to dig into my hamstring. The second walk break seemed to make it worse, so at mile 23 I decided not to bother with walk breaks. Whatever damage I’d done was done, and 3 more miles wouldn’t make it that much worse. The pain did get a little more intense, but I made it to the finish. For the first time I looked at my watch and saw 3:07. I was surprised because I thought with what happened it would be closer to three twenty-something.

The race as a whole was encouraging and a confidence-booster. Finishing with more left in the tank was frustrating, especially when everything was going so well, but there will be more opportunities. I’ll address what needs to be addressed with the tissue damage and be at it again soon.

There is more to this story in how I lost my self-belief, but it gets a little deeper and is probably best in a separate post. That can be found here: http://www.struckbystride.com/the-thief/

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