The plan was to do a lot of swimming and maybe ride my bike. Recovery from an Ironman often means laying low for about two weeks to allow your body time to rebound not just from the race but from the months of training. All that pounding can add up and since I’m hoping for longevity in this sport I’ve grown to love, a few days of rest isn’t such a bad thing.
But yesterday, the weather was so nice. The temperature had reached 80 degrees. It was sunny and quite breezy. The trees are still mostly green, but starting to get a touch of color, the kind which signals that fall is near. This is my favorite time of year.
How could I just go to an indoor pool to swim a few laps?
I needed to be outside. The wind was too brisk for an easy bike ride, so I decided on a light run. At Chestnut Ridge Park. Around the lower loop of the park roads. Up a hill steep enough to earn the nickname “Mother.”
Yes. I thought this was a good idea at the time.
As soon as I started running, I wondered if I could be trusted to think at all.
My legs felt weird. They didn’t hurt. They didn’t ache. But the running motion felt strange and new. Eventually it went away and I enjoyed the rolling terrain as it wound through the woods. The waning sunlight bounced around the canopy of trees. My light run was a bit harder than originally intended, but even as my breaths became slightly labored, I made sure to look around and take in the beauty of the later afternoon.
I was trotting along rather nicely until I hit the first part of the hill. Relax, I told myself. This is not a workout. This is a fun run. Stop worrying about your speed and pace. I took small steps and got myself up the first part of the hilly stretch. Then I started running a bit too fast, as if I wanted “Mother” to come quickly so that part of the run could be done. But that made me grow anxious. And as I started the run up the hill I became slightly intimidated.
When was the last time I ran this route? I couldn’t remember. But now, it was hard and my right calf was sore and at the mid-way point I started walking.
At least that’s what I thought when I started running again. My vision was of me, running in the beautiful late September afternoon effortlessly around the park.
My reality was me, running in the beautiful late September afternoon, trudging to get up the hills.
Perhaps I should not have spent the afternoon snacking on M&Ms, no matter how delicious they were.
But my moment of personal growth came in the 1.5 miles after Mother when I talked myself out of the epic fail attitude. Look around. It’s a beautiful day. I showed up to enjoy it. There is plenty of time to work on running hills, on speed, on technique, on all sorts of things which will make me faster and a better competitor/participant.
That’s not what today was about.
Oh, part of me is still frustrated — the part which likes to compare to other people, which judges my worth based on their performances, which admonishes me for not being good enough.
But as I get stronger, both physically and emotionally, there is another part of me which grows louder — the part which knows I am already good enough, which celebrates every day, which focuses on what’s in the moment and goes from there.
The run was a success — because I showed up.
The evening was capped off with a quiet, healthy dinner at home, embellished with a glass of wine, an episode or two of the Gilmore Girls and reading until I fell asleep.