Sunday, October 3, 2010

Risks and Rewards

There are thirty-three days left until half-marathon race day. I knew things had been going too smoothly when last Sunday I ran eight miles without batting an eyelash. I drank a cocktail of 1/3 G2 Gatorade and 2/3 water. During the last two miles, I ate a few small pieces of Trader Joe's dried mango and by the time I arrived back home, I felt pretty awesome.

Flash forward to Tuesday. I worked all day and then ran the three miles I was scheduled to do. I felt so good, I decided to go to Pilates class afterward. Go me, right? Not so much. Wednesday morning, I woke up and discovered I could hardly walk because of a sharp pain in the arch of my right foot. Uh-oh. I spent the day stressing about how there was no way I would be able to do the six miles I was slated to run that afternoon. I spent the evening icing my foot, and swimming the time I would have spent running.

I continued to ice and rest, and miraculously, after just three days, the pain subsided and seems to be completely gone. I wasn't sure if I should run today. I had that I-don't-know-if-this-is-a-good-idea feeling in the pit of my stomach. I used to run in the opposite direction of anything that provoked that feeling.
Example: Between the ages of 8 and 12 I actually refused to ski on any trail more difficult than a beginner, despite being capable, because after a frightening accident, skiing gave me 'that feeling'. My family skied every weekend, and it took me four long years to get over it.

However, I actually hadn't had 'the feeling' in quite some time, but having it today reminded me of a more recent time I felt strongly that I wanted to run away.

Four months into chemo, I got glaucoma and went blind. It happened while I was far, far away from home and was terrifying. Once the cause was discovered, I was able to see within a few days. After recuperating for just over a week, I found myself returning to my college campus, and getting the address of the school at which I would complete the student teaching requirement I needed to fulfill to graduate. That's right- cancer goes to college. And if it wants to graduate on time, it also goes to an elementary school to student-teach. Before beginning officially, I had to go and visit the scool. The whole drive there, I wanted to turn around. Thanks to a 6-lane highway with a large median, I couldn't. But when I got there and met the teacher I would be working with, I had to fight with all I had not to run out of there. Mixing cancer and college just seemed like a really, really bad idea. But I did it. I stayed that day, and I went back five days a week for the next four months.

As much as I wanted to, I didn't run away. I have learned from repeatedly pushing through those awfully uncomfortable situations that if I don't bolt, there's a pretty good chance I'll be happy I took the risk. So when I found myself questioning whether I was ready to run today, I assessed the actual condition of my foot- it felt fine. So I put on my sneakers, color-coordinated my running apparel, and hit the street.

Since I'm writing this, clearly I survived. I was able to run. And it didn't hurt. As I've found to be the case more often than not, that I don't regret taking the risk. Tomorrow I will run 10 miles, the farthest I have ever run. Is it a risk? Yes. Do I feel a little nervous? Sure. I don't know if I can run ten miles, but I won't ever know if I don't try. What I do know is that I can ski black diamonds, and I graduated on time, despite cancer's efforts to derail that plan. So I know from those experiences that it will feel really, really good when I get back home, because whether or not I succeed, I will have taken the risk, and THAT is an accomplishment to be proud of.

Hope, Love, Run!
Marathon Girl

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