I woke up last night grinding my teeth. I'm not a tooth grinder.
Why the stress, you may ask.
Because I aggravated an injury that took MONTHS of recovery and I have a half marathon in just over a month and I couldn't run even 5 miles yesterday with the leg hurting and I'm sure it'll be fine within a few days but I have a 10K trail race on 11/11 and I need to run it like a tempo workout not a race because the weekend after that is the tour de Tucson and I've not trained enough for that and I haven't been able to run enough for the half marathon. And why are all of my injuries on my left leg? My right is the side with nerve damage?!?!!? Are the joints just too soft and this is the hardening process I've read of or is it really related to the spinal injury in 1998?
And while it's true that I haven't been able to train properly for the half marathon, it's not the only race. It's my first and I will enjoy it for the experience. I am truly enjoying the training, the structure and honestly, the self-imposed pressure.
But here's the problem. For me the experience is surpassing my goal, and my goal is a bit beyond what I think I am actually capable of. That's what makes me tick; and not just in athletic endeavors.
I often wish I was one of those people that had the discipline to see something through even if it wasn't challenging. But the reality is that when I'm comfortable with a task, I underachieve. So in there I find my challenge, to perform the mundane with the accuracy and efficiency I bring when challenged.
With the half marathon, the catalyst of my stress, I don't have a goal. I have not been healthy enough to gauge how I can really run.
Yesterday at work I was speaking with two friends, both accomplished runners that no longer race, but still run. We were speaking about people cheating in races.
Those that cheat as kids, cheat as adults, they agreed.
This morning I was thinking about how my favorite stories usually involve the protagonist having to overcome their previous failures, all of which is usually made more difficult because of the insidious nature of mistakes promoting future mistakes. In some stories they prevail, in others they fail.
Tomorrow I'm riding 125 miles with almost a vertical mile of elevation gain. That is scary, and I know it's going to hurt. But I'm going to attack each climb furiously because it's not as scary as failing.
I know how I'll do there. I know how I'll do at the Tour de Tucson. I'll truly do my best, but will make mistakes and will learn a lot. What I don't know is how I'll do when I'm just exercising to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What makes me nervous, specifically, is how I will respond to having to run for exercise if I can't push to attain goals because of injuries. There will come a time where I will have to address those issues, either due to time, disinterest, or injury.
But for now, I am going to work hard to get through the next month and a half of running healthy. Then, this winter (it's Arizona, winter is SHORT) I am devoting two months to strengthening my legs, dropping the remaining weight, and already have a training plan in place for a race on April 28th.
They say that runners are escaping something, running away. Maybe.