The Struggle is Real…

The Day the Music Died: In short order after my euphoric race at Umstead100, my inspiration for writing (even in my own journals) seemed to desert me, my running iPod died (2+ hours of driving rain during the race certainly did not help), my new computer operating system crashed, and I found myself in the weird place of not having anything in particular for which to train. I’ve experienced the post race phenomenon known as the blues, or “getting back to reality” after a big race, but the lack of inspiration and drive, both in running and writing is extremely off-putting. I can only guess that the intensity and duration of my preparation (~24 months) is a major factor in my current slump. Most articles on this issue recommend signing up for the next race as a ‘best practice’ in renewing your mental, physical and spiritual energy. However, what are you supposed to do when you have your next race planned, but it’s pretty far off (Chicago Marathon) and you just do not ‘feel’ like jumping back into the training saddle?

Personally, I thought all the extra time I regained by cutting down on my weekly mileage would give me the time and space I craved to indulge in my writing. Clearly by the 6 week absence from my blog that has not been the case, and I am writing less than ever. Has my lack of drive and focus towards my next race translated into a daily struggle to put words down on paper? In retrospect, I should have anticipated this happening as my high mileage and hours on the road caused increased spouts of fun ideas that begged to be written as well as a clarity of focus you can get in zen-like moments in running. Now, with more time I have less to say.  Throughout my recovery and the following weeks, I was not inactive – biking, running, high intensity circuit workouts – yet I lacked purpose and found my voice stifled. So for me, my crashing computer and waterlogged iPod has become the perfect symbol of my stymied creativity.

Renewed Inspiration: According to Maya Angelou, you can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

With Ms Angelou in mind, I decided to write my way out of my funk. I know my thoughts and ideas never came solely from my long workouts but in my every day. It just so happened that run time was a refuge for my overactive mind allowing me to bring everything into clear focus. In the last few weeks, I’ve been working to reopen my senses and dedicating some time to just sit and write. The stories and posts I’ve jotted down have not all made the cut, but I have been enjoying the process and the effort.

As I have been writing more, I was lucky enough to have inspiration thrown directly in my path when I went to my childhood home for Mothers Day. Throughout the weekend, I spent some quality time with my four year old nephew. I’m biased but he is pretty darn cool…he loves ME, American Ninja Warrior, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), sports and, you probably guessed it, RUNNING! He takes part in a great program called Healthy Kids Running series and he just adores it. He takes it so seriously but also with such enthusiasm and joy that you cannot help but be swept up in the moment and his enjoyment. In addition to having a blast with him, I was also talked into running the family “one mile” where all the kids now cheer for the adults. I stood at the starting line with my nephew telling me to RUN FAST and I set off on an adventure I have not experienced in the last 13 years…sprinting a mile. With my heart exploding in my chest ( because sprinting is NOT what this Ultra Girl is used to), I tried to keep up with some pretty speedy men. The first 1/4 mile flew by in 50 seconds and I thought I might crash and burn! I then reined it in to a more sustainable pace, got passed by a heavily breathing man, and settled in for the next  3 laps. At the 4th and final lap I knew I could put in more effort AND pass the, probably very nice, snake who passed me on lap 2, so I kicked it up a couple notches. As I rounded the final turn of the backstretch & crossed the finish, I was elated with my 3rd place finish (1st female) and bent over trying to catch my breath after the last 6:05 minutes. I walked over to my nephew expecting a hug and some congratulations only to be told that i “didn’t win.” I couldn’t help but shake my head at his being so unimpressed by my effort on his behalf. That will most assuredly keep a girl humble.  But more than doing better than I expected on a distance I never run, I relearned the great lesson that running, whether fast, short, or long, is about the joy!

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