Monday, March 17, 2008

Why I need to run (a sorta RR from the Ras Na Heirann)

The past couple of weeks, piled on the last few months, have had me really asking why I haven't been running. I came out of the Hyannis 10k full of enthusiasm and excited. I knew I could get back to form after getting past a major hurdle.

So what happened?

I often read people's "I've lost my motivation" posts with understanding and sympathy. When you don't want to run after letting it define you, it really feels like breaking up with your high school sweetheart or losing someone special. Last fall I spent 3 months watching runners go by my window or pushing themselves along my running routes knowing I couldn't join them because I stupidly ran a 5 mile race after rolling my ankle. It felt fine, but I knew it wasn't and should have acted with restraint. But no.... I had to run.

Coming back from that injury has been scary. I was shocked at how much fitness I lost. I was saddened at my lack of stamina and fearful I'd roll it again and have all of it gone in a flash. So up until Hyannis, in the back of my mind was a little voice saying, "If you don't run, you'll learn not to miss it." But Hyannis reminded me why I run. The feel ing of exhiliration and freedom I feel when I run and I knew in that moment I could never give this up.

But then I didn't run again until yesterday when I ran the Ras Na Heirann - a 5k race that Gazelle Boy and I refer to as the running of the Irish. (It's idiomatically the Irish run or the Irish race, but literally it's the running of the Irish, which is the version I prefer.) There's something thrilling about running in a pack of 3,000 people and it takes over 3 minutes to get over the start line. This race is particularly silly because almost everyone is wearing green something, there are guys running in kilts and combat boots, leprechaun hats and outfits - you name it. I was there in my Red Sox St. Patty's shirt (an xxl number shirt with Matsuzaka's name and number on the back) ready to go.

Along the route is the Gaelic column - which always reaches an emotional core in me and I almost wept as a result of hearing those pipes and drums.... which I didn't do, but it did get me thinking. These past couple of weeks I have been so drained with fighting the school system to insure my son gets an equal opportunity education rather than ceremoniously shoved out the door with a piece of paper in hand and a "so long and thanks for all the fish." It has been draining physically, emotionally and spiritually. If this is what the battle is like in a supportive system, I can't even begin to fathom what parents in non-supportive systems have to face.

Ironically the one thing that I need to lighten the load, running, is the one thing that I just can't seem to work up the energy for. But somehow there I was running through Davis Square, trotting up college hill and through Powderhouse Circle, down the bike path to the Davis Square finish in 42:47. Not a great time, but I made it before a couple hundred other runners nonetheless. I've started selecting spring races: the James Joyce Ramble (10k), the Doyle's 5 miler, the Harpoon 5 miler, the Johnny Kelley Memorial (5 or 10k - haven't decided yet) among the choices. I have entries into the 5 big races on the Charles this summer and it won't be long before the Thursday night running group starts up again.

Yesterday someone I know who "doesn't get the running thing" asked me: do you feel stronger when you run? I realized, yes I do. when I finish a run I feel like I have accomplished something big - even a little run feels fulfilling. After the race I decided that maybe part of my problem is I expected to just restart rather than rebuild. I have time, so I'll go to the appropriate spot in a c25k program and start from just past the beginning again.

Today I have meetings and work, tomorrow I run.

Today I go into more meetings with guns blazing and tomorrow I run.


Athena said...

I can empathize with the guilt/dread/remorse/regret about the lack of motivation to run. I think we are like trees in winter--we need to go dormant for a while to build up strength for the next great flowering.

soleslide said...

I have been sitting around killing time because of a bum Achilles tendon for a month now. I am dreading finding out how much fitness I have lost and how long it will take to get back to where I was. Add to that I am scared stiff of running again because I don't want it to be too soon and aggravate the injury :(