Love is Stronger than Fear

I have been training for a marathon which is in early May. Initially my hope was to work really hard and to improve my time, possibly to the extent of attaining a Boston qualifying time. This would be a pretty ambitious goal, but not outside of the range of possibilities. Alas, I failed to strike a good balance between running and skiing, and skiing eventually proved to be more appealing to me. Thus, my training has been a bit on the lackadaisical side. But, I have felt pretty stellar on my long runs with the glaring exception of last Saturday. Saturday, against my coach’s wishes, I headed up with Fort Collins with R to scope out the course route for the marathon. I planned to do somewhere between 18 and 19 miles on the course. We didn’t get up to FC until late morning, and by the time we had scoped the course, placed water bottles along the way, and made our way to our planned starting point it was already 1 pm. Nothing like a midday run in the Colorado sun to make you feel like curling up and dying. But, we ran despite that.

When we started, R suggested we run together for the first mile or so before he took off, so we did. In fact we ran together for probably the first 5 or 6 miles, which may have been my first mistake. I was running too fast, but it was so nice up in the canyon, running downhill, and I was feeling good.

Eventually R went off on his own, running an out and back route to the car. When we separated we were making our way to the bottom of the canyon, where there were no trees, no shade, and a constant wind making it’s way up the canyon and into my face. Not a HUGE deal, but not great.

At about 8 or 9 miles in I grabbed a water bottle to carry with me for the rest of the run (I hate carrying water bottles), which was in addition to the phone I carried in case either of us got turned around, and some food– I was feeling a little weighted down and at this point the unmitigated sunshine was wearing on my fair skin a bit. I took a turn that lead me up a couple short but annoying hills. I typically like the challenge of hills but not on Saturday. I was starting to feel weirdly fatigued. As I ran further my stomach began to knot up like I had serious menstrual cramps and I began to feel ill. I stopped at a bathroom about mile 14 or so and that improved the situation slightly, though I think the shade of the porta-pottie might have deserved more credit than the bathroom itself.

The last 3 miles or so I felt a bit like death warmed over and I seriously wanted to lay on the side of the trail and cry, except that there were lots of bugs flying around which would have made that option miserable.  It felt like I was having some kind of breakdown.  But I kept running and then walking and then pep talking myself into running again.  It wasn’t that my legs had no gas, it was almost as if my hormones had gone haywire.  I thought I was bonking so I scarfed down the remainder of my food even though my stomach already felt kinda yucky.  The food didn’t really do a lot but I managed to run some more.  Finally, I saw “El Burrito”, our designated meeting place, and nearly cried with relief.  I found a shady spot, sat down (in a dust covered pile of thorns as luck would have it) and waited for Rick to meet me.  It was pathetic. I felt so yucky I couldn’t even consume my Big City Burrito afterwards.  All I could muster was a few bites and 2 chocolate milks.  I was in a foul mood.  What happened to a runner’s high???

Sad story.

Anyway, with the help of some food, a beer or two, an ice bath, and Anchorman, I began to feel pretty good physically. In fact I haven’t really been particularly stiff or sore since. Unfortunately the emotional fallout from the run lingered longer.  I was in a foul mood on Sunday and Monday morning too.  

This has never happened to me before.  Last time I trained for a marathon I had my good runs and bad runs, but nothing that made me feel like I had lost control of my emotions. But, in the last year or so I have found myself crying on runs. It’s not frequent, and it usually has no trigger–it’s like I am listening to music and cruising along and suddenly I feel a powerful welling up of emotion and I start crying–which typically involves some confusing breathing that is a little like sobbing and a little bit like heavy running breathing. I can’t tell the difference, but my theory on the subject is that running does enough to exhaust me that it gives those emotions a chance to rise to the surface without being squashed.

At any rate, I was sorting through my reaction to Saturday’s run and trying to figure out why I felt SO bad and emotionally battered when D let me know he got into his Ph. D. program a few states away. It’s really exciting news for him and I think he’ll do great in that environment–but it will be different with him so far away. I think despite our break up, the proximity has allowed us to remain fixtures in each other’s lives. With him a few states away, it seems like that “fixture” status will fade and it may be the final step for us.Admittedly, it’s made me sad to consider, especially in light of how pleasant things have been between us for the last few months, but perhaps this is what needs to happen. I can think of more than a few people who will breathe a sigh of relief when the specter of our past no longer hangs over our present.  On that note, I recently came across this video which kind of summarizes my feelings on the subject.  I must make a disclaimer that as a general rule, I find Sex and the City to be annoying and degrading to women BUT it has it’s moments:

Anyway, to finally kick this mood of mine in the ass I biked into work on my fixie– which I spiffed up with some flashy new yellow handlebar tape, ran over lunch, and went to Anusara yoga tonight–which was a killer workout. Our teacher kept repeating the phrase “Love is Stronger than Fear” and for me, on many levels, that is a much-needed mantra. I have about 15 things up in the air right now. In four months I could be living anywhere from here in Denver to Brisbane. A lot of things are changing right now and tonight’s yoga was a healthy and necessary reminder to embrace the future and the change that it brings.


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