Monthly Archives: August 2014

Almost There

For me, running season is the fall, starting in September or maybe even October, when the summer heat finally starts to die, the night starts bleeding into the afternoon, and the air takes on an edge. When dead leaves crunch beneath my running shoes, there is my bliss.

Unfortunately, this year, I will be greeting my running season recovering from childbirth–how much so yet to be determined. Instead of enjoying an avalanche of progress after a brutal summer, I will be starting completely over.

It is hard to believe it has been nearly three months since I was cut off from running by my doctor. Yes, I missed the oppressive heat and misery of summer running (and more importantly, followed the doctor’s advice for my baby), but what have I lost in training? I was running 13 miles; will I even be able to return to 3?

I know I can work my way back up, and I accept that it is all undoubtedly worth it. The thought of starting over is just daunting, especially now with two kids and two jobs (both double what I had previously). My daughter was not a newborn when I started running, so I’m not sure how this going to play out.

Yet I crave it.

My brain chemistry is completely fucked, more and more by the endorphinless day. Exercise deficit paired with pregnancy insanity has destroyed the balance I had created by this nonmedical management of my life. I feel lost without it, especially in the upheaval of so much life change and stress.

I simply feel overwhelmed. And apprehensive. I am intimidated by the changes I am facing and reeling for my outlet in the meantime. I just need to focus on what is important and get back to running myself sane after everything has settled again.

For a while, returning to running seemed so distant that I had almost forgotten about it. Now, at the climax of all the stress and close enough to see the other side, it has reemerged in my mind, digging in the back like a thorn.

One day… one day soon…

Advertisements

Volunteering: The Other Side

Over the weekend, I volunteered at my first race. I have participated in 27 races, yet this was the first where I stepped to the other side and facilitated the runners.

At 38 weeks pregnant, that was really the only option.

wwp8k

Under normal circumstances, I would have just declined the race. The point for me is to run it. However, this particular race had ulterior motivations.

Ever since I returned from my short civilian deployment to Iraq in 2009, I have donated and supported in small ways here and there. Once I started running, I made it a goal to run a race that would benefit a charity like Wounded Warrior Project. I made several attempts at this goal, yet they all failed. So when the Wounded Warrior 8K came through, I resolved to participate–running or not.

It was definitely strange to be on the other side. I have been to my share of races and am familiar with all involved from the registration tent to the water station. However, I have never unloaded the truck with the bagels for the finish line or set up the cones marking the course. It changed the experience, the way working at a place always does.

Admittedly, I was envious of the runners the whole time. I caught myself peeking at their shirts and packets, evaluating the grade of the course and temperature of the morning, gauging where I would have fallen in the (back of) the pack. My body, my muscle memory wanted to be running the course instead of directing it, hearing the cheers instead of calling them out.

Yet if I couldn’t do what I wanted, it felt good to still be involved, still be part of it. I channeled my own memories of running. As the red-faced, panting runners came across the bridge into the final stretch, I yelled out phrases I loved to hear:

“Almost there!”

“Straight down the hill!”

“You can do it!”

I stood out there until the last family made their way toward the finish line; then I (very awkwardly) bent down to collect discarded water cups. And I was happy.

I paid dearly for standing for four hours while so pregnant. My hips and back were a mess for the rest of the day, but it was worth it. I was exhausted and inappropriately sore, but I had done something more than donate money.

I don’t think I would ever volunteer for just any run, just to be part of it. For me, it will always be cause specific. I may run for gimmicks, but I volunteer and fundraise for actual causes.