A Little Test of Body, Mind & Will

Today is the last day of double digits in the marathon count-down. Ten days. Instead of feeling excited, I feel resigned, although I’m still unsure if that is because I won’t run or because I will run in pain. It’s not an easy decision. But in the meantime, since my chiropractor didn’t say that I could not run, I did decide to go for a very short 2 kilometre run this morning to see where things were at with my hip. It’s easy to say that the hip is experiencing less pain lately, but I also haven’t been running for a while and so I just don’t really know.

It felt good to go through the motions of preparing for a run, even if the preparations were much simpler for such a short distance. It’s amazing how much thought needs to go into stepping out for a long run, at least that has been my experience, but then again long distances aren’t really my forte. Even though I was more than adequately clothed, I felt almost naked as I walked out the door without my water bottle, hat, epipen, ID, keys, gels, and so on. Today was just me, my phone for music/running app, and a pair of sunglasses. So nice! I think that is another indication that I really am not a marathon runner.

As always I warmed up with a brisk walk to my starting spot. The walk felt fine. I started running, and the first song to play from my randomized playlist was “Don’t Dream it’s Over” by Crowded House. I got a kick out of that, because that’s the way my mind works. It was like a little voice telling me that my running days are not over, regardless of what happens over the next ten days, which I guess is something I desperately needed to hear without it even realizing it. (And this is why the music on my playlist might seem odd to some…because I find encouragement and motivation from the littlest things. There are songs that I love just because they are awesome. There are songs that I love because they have the right tempo or beat. A lot of songs on my playlist have words, phrases, entire stanzas that encourage & motivate me in ways that the writer may never have intended.)

I kept my pace rather slow. I knew I was only going to run 2 kilometres, and I wasn’t trying to have a personal best time. It was more important for me to simply be able to run the entire distance, preferably without requiring walk breaks and ideally without too much pain. My last run was on September 14, and my hip began to hurt quite significantly right from the start. Thankfully, today was not the same story. I could definitely feel that there was some tightness, like something still wasn’t quite right with my hip, but there was no pain yet. Quite often during a run I will sing along to my music or at least mouth the words. I was so focused on what my hip was feeling, doing or not doing, that I can barely even remember what songs played aside from the first and last songs. I also just about forget to say ‘good morning’ to several people who I passed, because I was so focused on my hip. Distracted running…the new danger!

The first kilometre seemed slow and long, but it was basically okay. There was no sharp pain, no throb or ache or burning, but I could definitely sense that the hip was not completely happy to be running. The rest of me was most definitely glad to be running! There was even a small puddle of crisp leaves for me to steer my way through. I love the sound of leaves crunching underfoot!

The second kilometre was more or less okay. It wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t horrible either. There still wasn’t really any pain, but I could feel the discomfort building. With roughly 500 metres to go, what would be the final song of my run began. “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. Once again, I couldn’t help but think how appropriate that song was for the situation. It was as if the music was the voice of my hip reminding me that there was indeed still an issue to deal with. The problem hadn’t gone away yet, and the more I would run the more my hip would hurt! Normally, I really love this song, but in this moment I hated it. I didn’t want to be reminded of what I could already feel building in my hip. I wanted to be reminded that there was still hope, that my dream wasn’t over, that I could still achieve my goal. The tentative hope that I felt at the start of my run was now being replaced by a sarcastic, nagging voice telling me that I will suffer greatly if I don’t give up.

I finished the run, and it was really an okay run. My hip survived, but I can tell that it would be screaming in pain within a few more kilometres. It’s one thing to run 2 kilometres with the potential for pain, but it is something else entirely to run 42 kilometres in complete pain.

Am I being incredibly dense and stubborn to still be waffling over my decision? Let me be clear, I do not enjoy pain! I can tolerate a fair bit of pain. There is a difference between good pain and bad pain, and I think I am smart enough to know the difference. I know that this isn’t good pain. The pain I feel after a heavy squat day is good pain, and I don’t mind that one bit. The pain I’ve experienced in my hip while running is not enjoyable in any way, shape or form. It sucks!

But I don’t want to give up! Even understanding that sometimes you just need to let go of goals, plans and dreams for all the right reasons doesn’t make the actual act of release any easier. I am stubbornly clinging onto what is left of my goal to run a marathon this year. I am no stranger to giving up, to quitting on something. Certainly I’ve dropped goals like hot potatoes many times before…so why does this one feel so much harder? As I am typing I am blinking rapidly in an effort to keep tears from pooling and spilling. My cheeks feel hot, and if I were talking my voice would be choking up. If I were talking, I have no doubt that those tears I am making such an effort to restrain would be streaming down my face.

I know the easy answer, quite likely the best answer, would be to drop out of the marathon; however, I don’t like that option. If I shouldn’t do the marathon, what about the half? I know I’d still be in pain, but I’d only have to run half the distance. It would still be a distance I haven’t run in a race before. Could I, should I? Or drop all the way back down to the 10K. It would be a shorter, faster race…only an hour or so of pain! <sigh> At some point I guess I need to make an actual decision.

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