Finding the Joy

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My training cycle for Boston was hard.

I wrote that sentence and then just stared at it for a while.  It was hard in so many different ways, it’s hard to explain how hard it was.  That was a lot of hards in one sentence.  Basically what I’m saying is… it was HARD.  And yes, some of the workouts were tough but that’s not really what I’m talking about here.  I lost the fun in running.  Let’s face it, I’m not elite.  I don’t aspire to be.  I just want to know at the end of the day that I gave the best I had.  And the reality is that I do this for fun.  It’s a hobby.  I don’t rely on running to pay the bills, to put food on the table, or to support my family.  So why do I continue to run when it’s not fun?  That’s a very good question.

I remember in 2012 (before I set pretty much all of my PR’s) that after finishing most runs, I was surprised, shocked really, that I had run as fast I had.  My only goal was to qualify for Boston but I had no real training plan.  I didn’t spend time on McMillan running figuring out paces, and I didn’t worry about what workouts I should be doing to get me there.  I kind of just did whatever I felt like doing.  If a workout felt hard, I felt good about it.  I didn’t plug my Garmin into the computer and get depressed about how slowly I ran my hill repeats.  I didn’t worry about track intervals.  I was just doing what made me happy.  Sometimes pushing myself hard made me happy.  Sometimes running easy made me happy.  I had no pressure because I thought a sub 3:40 marathon was the fastest I ever could or wanted to be.  And as a result, I ran well.  I ran happy.  I ran Richmond in 3:16 knowing that I could do better.  I knew that I could run a 3 hour marathon with consistent training.  I knew it would be hard and require work but I never doubted.  I believed in me.

This time around, I knew that I could run faster but I didn’t believe in me any longer.  And almost every run was a disappointment.  The more frustrated I became, the slower I ran.  If I put my race times in McMillian from December 2014- May 2015, each race would be slower than the last.  At 35, I don’t think the reason is because I’m just old and slowing down.  I know the problem is in my head.  I put so much pressure on myself and felt so much self doubt that my poor legs couldn’t carry the weight.  In fact, going into Boston, I wondered if I would even be able to finish 26.2 miles at any pace.

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But I did finish.

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After all the work.  After all the heart ache.  The injury, the surgery, the doubt, the frustration.  I made it to the start line and I ran the race I had always wanted to run.  Every single part of Boston exceeded all expectations.

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I ran happy.  And I ran the race I had in me that day, huge positive split and all.

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And afterward we celebrated.

I ran a 3:25:44.  Almost 10 minutes slower than my PR.  And I was ecstatic.

I remembered why I run in Boston.

It’s been almost a month since marathon Monday and I’ve been enjoying running so much more than I have in a long time.  I have a general idea of different runs I want to do each week, but I mostly run on feel and don’t stress about pace.  I’ve done a lot more runs with friends without having to worry about my workout for the day.  And I’ve enjoyed running by myself a lot more because I spend my runs thinking about life rather than obsessively checking my watch.  My runs haven’t all been good, the humidity has hit me hard.  But I feel good when I’m done instead of defeated and I love that feeling.

I ran one of my slowest 5k’s on mother’s day.

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And I couldn’t have been happier.  Because these guys were there waiting for me at the end.

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