We’re over halfway through 2023 and I’m gonna go ahead and call it: this is my year of reevaluation.
Maybe this phase is a result of my crone years rapidly approaching. Or chalk it up to my last kid starting college in the fall. Perhaps it’s a result of living through a pandemic and its enduring aftermath. Could be that Jupiter has aligned with Mars. Let’s just say it’s all that and more.|
(I’m looking forward to my crone years, by the way. I intend to spend them developing even more eccentric hobbies and dispensing sage advice that no one listens to. It’s a win all the way around.)
Regardless of the root cause, I’m rethinking a few things right now. A lot of my re-thoughts have to do with running.
I’ve already talked about this year’s Seneca 7 being my last for the foreseeable future. It’s a great race, mind. You should do it if the idea of moving around a gorgeous lake in unpredictable weather tickles your running bone. It’s genuine Type-2 fun. For me, three turns in the van satisfied my need.
I’m starting to feel the same way about half marathons.
I know, I know. I’ve committed to running 13.1 in each of our 50 states. My current count stands at 20 (with another 10 spread across Pennsylvania and New York). Even though 20 does not equal 50, I’m bailing on racing the whole country.
My reasons are varied. After this last training cycle, which took me from indoor laps in January to New Jersey April 1 to Seneca to last month’s Garry Bjorklund (a.k.a. Grandma’s) in lovely Duluth, Minnesota, my body was just hanging on. My knees popped and squeaked and clicked, to say nothing of the noises my hips made. They didn’t lie. I’d been skimping on the strength in order to fit in all of the running. That is unsustainable in my 50s.
Alison Desir’s talk at the Grandma’s Marathon Expo about making the sport more diverse was an energy boost in about a million different ways.
My body hammered the point home when I made it back to Oneonta from Minneapolis. I spent the week after the race in bed, sick as I’ve been in years. I figured it was Covid or the flu. It was neither. An ear and sinus infection knocked me on my (already achey) arse. Thank you for the message, universe. I’m not as physically resilient as I once was.
Could I dedicate myself to becoming faster, stronger, and better? Probably. But I don’t really want to, and pushing through in the face of my meh-ness would be silly. The end result would likely be a PR, an injury, and buckets of resentment. I like running too much to make myself hate it for some self-imposed 50-state goal.
The real kicker for me, however, has been how little excitement and how much dread I feel at the starting line now. “Dread” might be the wrong word. “Pre-emptive boredom,” maybe? “The knowledge gleaned from 30 races about how my 13.1 miles will feel,” perhaps? No matter what you call it, the thrill of the running part of a race is gone.
What remains is the joy I take in all that surrounds racing, like fun signs, community support, and expo booths. Running in new places remains my jam and I don’t need a race to do that. I still dig watching runners run and find their individual ways through the hard parts of the sport. And, of course, my favorite favorite is meeting up with badass women runners who are current (and future) friends.
Finish lines with friends is the best part of racing. In this case, post Bjorklund in Duluth.
I’ve reset my goal, which is totally kosher since I’m the one who decided the finish line in the first place. Rather than shoot for 13.1 in all 50 states, I’m stealing an idea from a friend of a friend and running a half marathon in half of the states. Indianapolis will be next in October and I have plans for May 2024. I’ll need three more states to close this particular chapter.
The rest of the book remains to be written. I’m leaning into what I love right now: how running makes me feel, how much I love travel, and how connected I am to other mother runners. While I’m pretty sure a naked 5K and a marathon were both ones-and-dones, there’s so much out there to explore. Currently catching my eye is the Burro Race in Fairplay, Colorado, because it’s just the sort of madness I want in my life, even though a) it’s at altitude, b) it’s 15 miles, and c) it requires livestock.
Even if I don’t make it to Colorado anytime soon, I do know that I’m going to invest more time in expanding my cheering game. What would it be like to go to NYC on the first Sunday in November and yell at sweaty strangers? Seems like a thrill, frankly, and I plan to give it a try.