Have you ever run a race and thought - "That was terrible!! I felt so slow, I really did not enjoy that, I DID NOT RUN FAST ENOUGH?" I'm afraid to admit that I too have heard myself thinking those negative thoughts one too many times over the past few years.
Why is it that we do that? Is it all really about how fast we run, if we finally achieve that PR we have been working so hard to reach? What about all the little things, the smallest of details that we never care to even think about.
Towards the end of this past March, I found myself lying in a hospital bed recovering from major abdominal surgery. Unable to sit up on my own, I had to completely rely on my husband to help me get around. A far, far cry from only a few days earlier when I was in the midst of training for the most meaningful race I had yet to run, The Boston Marathon.
I had spent the last year dedicated to training everyday in the cold Wisconsin winter to get there. Endless runs on the snow-filled roads brought me one step closer to the race I have always dreamt of running. I was so close, and within a blink of an eye everything was taken away.
I had not been feeling very well since late December. I had been dealing with persistent fevers, abdominal and joint pain, and talk about the fatigue. It sure makes training for a marathon difficult but I was not going to let anything get in my way.
Each day I pushed on and dealt with the discomfort. It wasn't until I had some blood tests come back abnormal and a CT scan revealed that I had a mass in my abdomen that I knew what I was dealing with. I can not even begin to explain the fear I felt as a mother of two young children. Boston was no longer on my radar and I could care less.
After surgery and staying in-and-out of the hospital with complications, I was left unable to run for about four months, let alone even walk comfortably. It turns out I have something called Crohn's Disease, not a glamorous thing to have.
There is one thing I can say, many people may think I am nuts, but I feel truly blessed to have gone through that. It is in those frightening, dark moments, that I learned the most about myself and what I am made of. Now, I think about moments in my life in a completely different manner than I did in the spring.
My running used to be all about how fast I could run and that is really all I cared about. Forget about the fun along the way. The pureness of running had been stripped away and I was obsessed with splits, the newest gadget, and not being satisfied with a race unless I placed in the top three.
Now things are different. The first week I started back it took me twenty minutes to walk a half mile. I am not kidding, I was that sore and stiff. I recall I was so swollen my neighbor man asked if I was expecting. Ha! That will teach him to ask a girl that again ;) But, even in that moment, twenty minutes felt like winning a marathon. I could move and that was all I needed.
I am now back to running. I have run a 15k and a half marathon this past month. I am not setting records or caring about my speed, I am just out there enjoying the moment and my ability to be doing something I love so dearly. Someday, maybe, I will again take a shot at Boston. But, for now, I am just enjoying the roads and taking it all in.
Now, I would never wish what I went through on any of you. However, the one thing I can say is sometimes we all can use a little reminder to sit back and enjoy the moment. Enjoy the movement. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy your health and the ability to go out and run.
Every now and then, take off the watches, forget about your splits, feel the sun on your face, take a look around you and just enjoy the road you are traveling.