I finished the book “When Breath Becomes Air” last night which was written by Paul Kalanithi. Paul wrote this book because he found out he had terminal cancer and he wanted to document his journey as he faced his own mortality. He wrote his journey from brilliant Neurosurgeon to Cancer patient. Paul was quite interested in diving into looking death in the eyes and analyzing what death means and looking at it as a process instead of running away from it. It is an honest book that I don’t know as if I could have written in the midst of suffering from Cancer and watching myself wither from health to having people on my death watch just waiting for me to pass to move on. It’s a good read and something that will not leave my mind. You should read it. THIS Ted talk by Lucy Kalanithi is what prompted me to read the book.
I thought about Paul this morning as I headed out to run and I thought about Lucy his widow and Cady his infant daughter who most likely won’t remember her father except in the things her family and her mother share with her. I thought about my own life and thought about how I read and cried through this book and as my legs carried me over my three miles I confirmed with myself that if I face this same kind of decision in my life, I do NOT want to spend time chasing time if the outcome is sure to be finality. I would rather spend my time simply talking to my family, and running, having cookouts and creating memories and laughter than living in a hospital bed. Everyone dies we just don’t know when we’ll die or how. Why worry about it? Every day and moment should be lived to the best of our ability being the best people we can be don’t you think?
I run because I want to be more healthy. I want to be more healthy because I want to live as long of a life free from canes or adult diapers and medications as I can. I started off running to run away from life’s problems. I ran to save myself from deep dark places that the anti-depression commercials talk about. I ran not to look forward but to not look back. Things are much better now for me and I am probably the happiest I’ve ever been since getting married. I now appreciate meaning in life and the joys that my family brings me, especially my children as they head into adulthood. I now run to be able to have as many tomorrows as I can and to “experience” every day rather than just living every day. Lucy and Paul “experienced” life and looked at life in a really analytical way both in life and through and during death. Running saved me and has taught me to really appreciate and experience most everything. Running has become the glue that keeps me sane, lets me analyze things so I can better understand them more like Paul and Lucy do. Running lets me reflect on things that have happened and what my takeaways are a lot like Lucy and Paul did as they applied the lessons they were learning through their difficult journey through Paul’s illness.
It’s books like this that make me a better human who appreciates the important things in life over skimming through each day blindly, and it’s running that has allowed me to take all those moments and push them forward to tomorrow and the next days to come. Life, like running has good days and bad, joy and pain, frustrations and memories, positives and negatives. We should know what we want from both, have goals for both, give mindful thought to the moments and milestones that we experience during both.
So, today was day one after letting it all hang out there in the wind yesterday. Again, no date yet but we need to see what this old girl can put up and what my endurance and tolerance levels are in order to truly decide if the lofty goal I just set is actually doable. Last night I did some speed work on the DM at the gym but only 3 miles because it was so damn hot in the gym I had to cut it short. Today I hit the ground running intending to get my usual 3-5 miles in. Somewhere in the first mile my subconscious decided that it was going to test my tolerance a bit and my legs obeyed. My lazy pace is around a 10 minute mile. My working pace is around 9:30 and my kick ass pace is anything under 9:30 these days. If you read yesterdays post you will realize that this will not cut it if I am going to achieve that goal. Now I do know that today is day ONE and I certainly do not expect to be close to goal at this time, just looking to see where I’m at with moderate to high effort so I can gauge where to focus. So I ran 5 miles this morning. I stopped every single mile mostly to rest but after mile 1 I had to shed a layer. All the rest of 2-5 I needed to catch my breath. I knew I was pushing it and as each mile buzzed on my wrist I was pleasantly surprised to find that at about 80% effort I was running sub 9. My chest didn’t burn so I knew I was ok, my legs weren’t going to give out so I kept going and I didn’t puke so I knew I wasn’t working too hard. To my chagrin, I managed the following splits: 9:01, 8:50, 8:46, 8:35, 8:03 which not only impressed me but told me my goal is not too much of a pipe dream. I realize this was just 5 miles not 26.2 and I don’t think I could manage that pace longer than I had without serious effort at micro managing fuel, hydration and mental fortitude. The first two are easy to learn, the last one will take some serious effort which may take the help of someone who has done it before in order to bind my own “deathly hallows” to get the job done.
So I’m not in a bad place, not in the perfect place, just in a really good place right now and better situated than I originally thought to make it happen. So time + effort + adjustments + consistency are my plan. Reading a ton is about to become a bigger hobby to educate myself so I don’t hurt myself. I’m 48 not 28 and I don’t have aspirations of breaking any world records, just one goal which isn’t over inflated. I now believe in what I’m doing more than I did yesterday and hope to maintain that even on the hard days in a plan that I have yet to write down and commit to. All you need to do is want to and the rest will fall into place right?
What goals have you set that made you nervous? How did you deal with it?
I have wondered lately if it is possible for someone who runs a 9:30 average mile to run a sub 3:48:00 marathon. I wonder because I got the “good luck with that” comment to my jest of “anything you can do, I can do better”. I was of course poking around my husbands marathon time of 3 hours and 48 minutes. Unfortunately as soon as he retorted what he did, I felt the Ukrainian in me flip him off. That’s not a good sign because whenever that has happened in the past I have become obsessed with whatever the goal is and bar none, I have always hit whatever it is. So would it be possible once my son is out of High School for me to actually get my 9:30 – 9:45 miles down low enough to beat that time? Am I still young enough or slim enough to do it? My mind thinks I could with great effort but will my body comply? Will I need a coach (YES!) and will I be able to afford them? Can I give it my all to get my mind, body and spirit aligned with my goal? I’m afraid to set that goal because what if I set out to make it and what if I fail. It will have to be a quiet little goal between me and you (BAM) which will remain unwritten at least for now, however, it’s out there and it’s stuck in my mind now. Not going to get it out I don’t think. Can I do it?
Well, perhaps is the answer. You see, as much as I did not want to run yesterday, I wanted to today. It might be my brand new awesome running outfit that I got yesterday and the fact that I wanted to try it out to see if the size was better. Fact is that it was. My new medium holds my junk all in place a little better and my legs feel great. Part of my earnst to head out was how well I felt. I was happy to have taken yesterday off because my legs and my entire body felt much better. It was cold today so I layered up and out I went. I didn’t put super effort into my stride and I wasn’t really sucking wind, just running along enjoying being out there a lot. I ran my favorite route over the highways because I feel on top of the world standing over all the traffic. I see the sunrise and the hills are a good challenge that I like to keep in my routine for when I want a challenge. I got to 4 miles and thought that it would be great to get 5 miles in before work and just kept going. I knew around mile 3 I was going faster but my chest didn’t burn as it does when I’m sucking wind from running too fast so I kept going. When I got home I felt great and when I looked at my splits they were 9:32, 9:34, 9:21, 9:07, 8:53. I realize this is just 5 miles and adding 20 more to that is an undertaking in itself but it looks like a good start. Have you had an unfathomable goal that you have set out to achieve? Did you hit it?
So, for those of you who actually read this blog, you will remember that yesterday was like this big important emotional pinnacle day for me. I stepped forward to start a fresh chapter in my life following a very dark episode. It was like I was holding my breath for a REALLY long time and had taken my first breath of air. So if you have been a fan of my ridiculous rants you ALSO know that I am a HUGE fan of Kelly Roberts who blogs and vlogs and does podcasts all based on her journey out of a similar dark place. She is super motivational and funny and sarcastic and has found her strength through running and running friends. I love following her because she makes me feel good about me and makes me realize that I should be having fun running and not be scared of setting goals and trying new things.
So I follow her and write these blogs. In the last 24 hours I feel like she’s egging me on. What do I mean by that you ask? I feel like I’ve thought more about signing up for a full marathon because of her. Kelly would say to me “what the hell are you afraid of?” She would tell me that I shouldn’t let the fear of such a big commitment and the possibility of not finishing prevent me from trying. She’s right. Why haven’t I signed up for one or tried one yet? It is a long way but people older than me have done that. It is a long way but people slower than me have completed them. It is a long way but people that are not as healthy or strong as me have done it. The factual reason that I haven’t done it so far is that I don’t want to have to commit to training RIGHT NOW. I still have a son in high school for another year and I want to give him as much time as I gave his brother and sister. He deserves that. That actually is the only real reason that I haven’t jumped in and signed up. After next May when he graduates I will no longer have any reasons not to. I think in the back of my head I have already decided that next Fall will be my target for actually completing one. I then think that I could run my first marathon on my 50th birthday which falls in May of 2019…THAT would be so awesome and if I did a destination race for my birthday it seems like waiting a little longer would be great. Maybe I could get some company for such a big deal.
Anyway the IF doesn’t really exist because it’s more like WHEN and WHERE. Listening to Kelly has helped me get over the fear of whether or not I should and to turn those thoughts into when and where I could. A marathon has been on my bucket list in pencil and I feel like now it’s in pen. Do you have any suggestions on amazing marathons for me to consider? Somewhere warm (during our Fall), beautiful, flat, fun and well run are the things that I am looking for. Tell me, I’m all ears! Here’s to having new goals and being excited about it!