The last few work weeks have been incredibly difficult – extremely long hours, high priority situations, high stress, less than optimal sleep, and very little down time – making it an awkward time to be in my last major build before Umstead 100. Through my second to last major build to the present, I’ve found myself simply following my training plan without the normal enjoyment aspect, then getting extremely frustrated because I do not normally view running as a requirement. Oftentimes I’ve said, “I get the work done, but really run for the fun.” Not so much lately. With each subsequent day of going through the motions, the more angry and morose I found myself. Dragging myself into and out of bed for workouts, while using my (normally) high energy and focus at work, and then complaining about how crazy life is right now.
While lack of sleep and long work hours do not make for ideal training for a big race, I did not go into this blind. As an “age grouper” and not a professional athlete, I have never had the expectation of perfect training conditions and time. I also knew going in that completing my first 100 miler (Go Umstead 100!) this year during a demanding work rotation would not only be tough physically but also mentally and emotionally. That is not to say I do not dream of being able to train without worrying about getting into business clothes, working all day, and fitting in the workout, yet I have always preferred reality and that is what I have.
Whaaaambulance: Luckily for me, I have extremely intelligence, funny and sarcastic colleagues that often use (ore create) words and phrases to fit into these types of situations to bring you back to reality. As you may have guessed, in this particular situation the “Whambulance” is perfectly fitting. Granted, my co-workers would normally be making pretend siren noises while calling for the “Whaaaa-Whaaaa-Whambulance,” which admittedly, is hilarious. As I was bemoaning my current situation (in my head and to a select few – or to anyone who would listen), I began to hear the imaginary sirens coming towards me. For those who may not have ever heard of the Whambulance before, according to the Urban Dictionary, it is the imaginary rescue vehicle that will rescue you from someone’s incessant whining over a trivial matter. It is used mockingly, but in good humor.
Getting out of the Funk: As my good friend Val said to me once, “the only person responsible for your poor decisions and choices is YOU.” Granted, she told me this after I blamed her for leaving wonderfully tasty and addicting cake scraps in my refrigerator, but it also works in this case. She hates running and ALWAYS calls my races “poor decisions.” She is correct. Whether it can be considered a good or bad decision, running this race is my dream and goal, so I get to take responsibility for my choices even when feeling overwhelmed. It will not be effortless; however, with the sounds of the Whambulance ringing in my head, I knew I needed to get out of my own way. As has been proven throughout the years, being consistent and putting in the time counts. Heck, maybe I will be lucky and find that training and pushing myself during these crazy weeks will end up being the foundation upon which I draw my strength in the last 20-30 miles of the race. With that in mind, I know I can push through. I also know my struggles are nothing in comparison to what others fight through in their lives. A long weekend with an exceedingly and inconceivably ailing friend brings life into perspective, and a run near the ocean on a random, 60+ degree day in February certainly helps lift your spirit.
As I move forward, I will do everything possible to make sure the last 5 weeks until the race will be filled with the joy I know comes from physical exertion and an incredible journey, and not simply the duty. As Dean Karnazes so eloquently stated,
“I run because if I didn’t, I’d be sluggish and glum and spend too much time on the couch. I run to breathe the fresh air. I run to explore. I run to escape the ordinary. I run to savor the trip along the way. Life becomes a little more vibrant, a little more intense. I Like That.”