Sarah: Running is My Life Raft

I’m back! Miss me? It’s been a long time since I’ve checked in here. But now, as we’re set to kick off summer, I’m feeling invigorated to put my thoughts out there again and revisit those goals I spoke so passionately about a short while ago. Over the past few months, my plans to PR became less top-of-mind and more, “I’ll get there when I get there.” That burning desire to do big things cooled for a while, but I’m ready to stoke those fires once more.

The Ogden Mile in Wheeling, WVLet’s just back up a bit and declare this past winter (and spring, for that matter) as The. Longest. Ever.  And it’s not like I even have the Polar Vortex to blame. With 90 percent of my training done indoors , I barely broke out the hat and gloves. Rather, an unfortunate series of illness and emotional strain continuously knocked me over like a bowling pin: I’d wobble back and forth and try to hold on to some semblance of normalcy and then boom--there I’d go down again. With three kids, we simply could not avoid those nasty preschool and kindergarten bugs, and this year, I picked up them all. A stomach virus, a few colds, strep throat, a sinus infection.  And when I was well, the kids were sick. A revolving door of doctor’s visits, exhaustion, runny noses, and lingering coughs. Gross.

Still, the most challenging aspect of all was something much more draining than any bout with a bug. The sudden loss of a close friend (and the husband of one of my closest friends) in late February struck me like a rogue bolt of lightning and I continue to grieve. In one way, I’ve been able to channel my emotions into running and use my workouts as an outlet for my anger and my sadness. But at the same time, the sleepless nights and the loss of focus derailed my plans.  I began to think of those goals as trivial…selfish, even. How can I be so concerned with my running triumphs when one of my best friends just buried her husband?  

Then I realized: We all need something to buoy us in life, to cling to for some sense of normalcy on even the most chaotic days.  For me, running—and racing in particular—is that life raft. So a few weeks ago, I ramped up my training once more and got a few races on the calendar.  I spent long runs wiping away tears as foreboding thoughts overwhelmed me. I angrily pounded out the hard interval workouts as I processed my frustration. Just as time has a way to heal us (or at least soften the blow) so does the pure, physical act of running.  And seeing the results of my efforts elevated my mood even more. 

Concentrating on a series of races, as opposed to one key event, is giving me a chance to play around with my workouts. There’s no pressure and I manage to have fun every time I lace up my running shoes. Not every race has produced PRs, but I’m taking away more than just the numbers on my watch from the experience. I’m getting to meet new people, run in different places around the DC area, and pushing myself in a way that’s completely exhilarating. And taking home some nice prizes is a sweet little bonus. 

I’ll write more on my recent races in a bit…off to field day at E’s school. Ironically where I first discovered my love of running (and popsicles!).

--Sarah