Menses alert (like a spoiler alert, but more important): As if it wasn’t enough to attempt to move my fat body 26.2 miles, I get to do it while Mother Nature does her thing to my uterus. Thanks, lady, you’re supposed to be on my side. You are a woman after all!
If nothing else, though, I have plenty to think about on this 6-hour journey. I can replay recent disappointments with friends to investigate what I have done to offend. I can revel in recent—and fantasize about future—growths in my professional life. I can contemplate my (partially) new-found spirituality, reviewing the texts I’ve been reading as I run. I will repeat a mantra: “Just keep swimming.” I can pray for personal and universal plights and rejoice over successes. I can consider social justice issues and the ways in which I can . And, if I finish, I will feel like I’ve accomplished something big.
Well, it’s the Tuesday after the marathon, and I didn’t finish. I didn’t accomplish something big. This time. I was going strong until mile 10 when I noticed my chest starting to tighten up, and I started to have a difficult time breathing. I’ve run 15-mile training runs, so there should have been no problem. But there was.
I don’t have a formal asthmatic diagnosis, unless you count the exercise-induced one from when I was still young enough to go to the pediatrician, so I hate it when I can tell my lungs are starting to spasm and constrict. I can’t do anything to fix it because I don’t have an inhaler. By the time I turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue, I could tell I wasn’t going to last much longer. Maybe it was the gingko trees, maybe it was my imagination, but my breathing was difficult. I started crying, and then I started walking. I made it to mile 11 where I promptly got scooped up by the slow wagon.
I learned a lot about myself through this huge disappointment. I know I need to start my allergy shots, and I am hoping I am part of the 50% of the population they work for. I know I need to train much more diligently and much more thoroughly for the next go around. I know could stand to lose some weight, which would only make running 26.2 miles a little less painful. I know I need to be more careful about what I eat between now and then, maybe adding in a bit more protein and fewer “treats.”
I learned I need to give myself more grace when shooting for lofty goals, like I need to give myself grace for not having time to work on my dissertation. I learned I need to count on my friends and family who are steadfast and true and revel in their love for me.
I don’t know what else to say about this whole journey, except that I lost it on Saturday when I stopped running. The bottom of my world fell out, and all those dark feelings came rushing in and I was drowning. I came back (or to put it evangelically, I was redeemed) when I decided that not making a goal I set for myself isn’t the end of the world, and that I always have next time. Sounds trite, sounds cliché, sounds sickeningly like something I wouldn’t want to hear, but it’s true. I don’t have a terminal illness. I am not incapacitated in some way. There is always tomorrow.
While I was running, I thought a lot about the legacy I want to leave behind, and the one I was heading toward leaving behind wasn’t exactly it. Recently, I have spent way too much time wallowing in self-pity. I haven’t spent nearly enough time thinking about, dwelling on those things I have to rejoice about. For my legacy, I want to leave behind peace and compassion, not anxiety and anger. I may not be happy in every situation, but I can still be grace-filled and experience each moment for what it brings.