|sunrise over Golden Gate Park|
My first hesitation with committing to this race was pure physical ability. In the past, the moment I started running, my body would begin to break down; like the chain reaction that unfolds before your eyes once you knock over that first domino... First came the shins -- shin splints up the wazoo that were so painful it was as if someone was hitting me in the tibia with a baseball bat every time my foot made contact with the treadmill. Yes, treadmill -- this was back in the day when I only worked out at a gym because I thought anything else would be too hard on my body. I now strongly prefer the outdoors.
|as you can see, the view ain't bad -- from Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach|
After the knees, came the tight calves. Again, this issue was a result of the above -- over-working of the calves in dance and poor form when walking. One day specifically, it felt like I was on the verge of a Charlie's Horse for a full 24 hrs. I even had a run scheduled that day, and I nearly broke down into tears mid run. Seriously, that shit hurts.
Lastly, if I could manage to control, or at least grit my teeth through all of the above, the second to last domino would bring things to a halt -- endurance. Even just half-hour runs would make me feel like I would pass out if I didn't take a break. How was I going to sustain myself for 2+ hrs?? I thought this issue would surely improve by week 3 or 4. Week 5 at the latest... But it wasn't until last week -- week 7 -- that I managed to complete my entire 6.5 miles without walking. My endurance had finally caught up with the rest of me, and 3 days later I ran my entire 10.5 miles (that's more than half the distance of San Francisco, btw!) without walking. Say what?!
Now, just to be clear, I've been following training guides aplenty and getting advice from fellow runners and friends who know a thing or two about the body. From day 1 of my training I've been working on my form, stretching, icing, foam rolling, etc, etc. Had I not been doing these things, I definitely would NOT still be training because my body would literally be in a pile of rubble right now. However, I'm know I'm still not a perfect runner or a perfect example even (I could stand to drink like 10 more glasses of water per day). My calves still cease up from time to time, and my shin splints may begin to flare if I drop the ball on the ice.
So why am I going on and on about my experience?
While I'm not perfect and I don't have all of the answers, the point of my experience is that I'm still going. It's hard work for me, and some days it's really fucking hard. But the thought of what I'm accomplishing, despite all the struggles, is enough to keep me going when I could just as easily say, "Maybe this just isn't for me." It's something I can be proud to talk about, and it's a goal that I can focus on when other areas of my life feel all cattywompus. I never thought I could do, much less would want to do something so strenuous. But I've not missed a single morning run -- whether it's getting up two hours before work, or after a night of drinking for my best friend's birthday (while in the mountains at 4,000 ft elevation), I've not missed a single morning run-- scratch that, I missed two due to a devil of a blister on the arch of my foot.
It's been a journey, indeed. But more than that, I've made a significant change in my life and the effects -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- will be lasting. Even when something feels totally unattainable, just take the first step... Once you get the momentum going, I promise you'll become an unstoppable force.