I started running because I was getting shorter. At my annual physical before my 40th birthday, I measured an inch and a half shorter than the previous year (and many years before that). It messed me up. Somehow in a fog of rationale I thought, “If I’m not 5’ 6”, then what else am I not?”
So I started walking, then running. Last time I ran was 20 years before that. Within 6 months, I ran my first 5K with 2 other girlfriends. We had shirts that said “Shut Up and Run.” Before long, I ran a half marathon. Oh, and in addition to the 5am runs, there came the 5am swims and biking in the dark. Now, 4 years, 20 running races and 6 triathlons later, what next? More it seems.
Lately, I’ve been struck (and a little confused) by my desire to keep doing more. To battle my perennial image and weight issues, I lost 15 pounds to prep for the 2012 race season. I am getting stronger and leaner thanks to P90X, and running those hills seem easier. I’m still trying to kick the last 5 pounds or so, but heck, like most women, I’ll never be happy with what the scale says.
But where am I going with all of this? It would be so much easier to NOT do all of this. Sometimes the 4:45am wakeup calls just feel really bad. And I am often tired and cranky by 3pm. And forget sleeping for 8 hours a night. What do I want from all this? A marathon? A half Ironman? Run faster? Swim faster? I am at least 10 times more physically active than when I played team sports in high school. I am in great shape, and I’m healthy. And core, yoga and stretching – are all part of my weekly workout routines. Why doesn’t it feel enough?
A friend recently said I am going through a midlife crisis. I will be 44 in a few months. So far this year, I have signed up for a 5 miler, a 10 miler, a half marathon, an Olympic Tri, and a Sprint Tri. I will probably do another Century Ride, a few shorter races and hopefully get in the Army 10. Hmm. I DO love how I feel during AND after a run. Swimming has boosted my running in so many ways. And I feel bad ass when I finish a triathlon. Racking up my bike and getting my transition area ready is nerve wracking AND exciting as hell. Open water swimming scares the crap out of me, but I’m hoping to overcome that this year. I love it all. Is that all there is to this? That I love it? I just don’t know.
I do know that I’ve learned a few things over the last 4 years:
• I can do more than I think I can
• If I force myself to run when I don’t want to, I feel really good when I’m done
• There are really good running days, and there are really bad running days
• I thought I was strong until I started yoga
• Stretching is essential to prevent injury
• I love my chiropractor
• I am lazy. I don’t want to expend more effort to increase speed or distance.
• I CAN apparently work out an hour a day, 6 days a week.
Mostly good eh? Oh, and one more: I found another best girlfriend, with whom I never would have done any of this. We push each other, wake each other up for stupid early morning workouts, and have had many heart to heart talks (not related to running, biking or swimming) during, before, after and in between those workouts. I love her dearly for what she has become to me, and for showing me what I can become. Yes Beth, I can squat lower apparently.
BECAUSE I CAN
So what is the lesson here? I do all this because I enjoy feeling strong and bad ass? And because I can? I guess so. Because before long it won’t be my choice. One day, my body is simply going to say, “No more!” I had a taste of that last year and it was a very unhappy and stressful time. I just need to be happy with what I have achieved so far. And go for more. Yes?