I’m half the runner I used to be. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about weight loss, but rather, race distance. I had grand plans to run the Richmond Marathon, but my shins did not agree with said plans. Around the 17 mile mark of my training plan, I realized my legs were not ready to handle the mileage right now. My friends had started casually asking me why I was limping. I was suffering enough to look forward to an ice bath. Alas, on the last possible week, I made the decision to switch my registration to the Richmond Half Marathon.
I’ve never actually transferred to a shorter race distance before, despite some less than stellar training cycles. In the past I’ve been determined to push on through the 26.2, despite injury or just general slacking. Like the time I ran the Austin Marathon despite nagging knee pain, and had to walk the last 10 miles. Then there was the out of shape Marine Corps Marathon death march…ahh, the suffering.
I never made it past 16 miles in either of those training cycles, and I sure paid the price in the second half of those races.
This time felt different, though. Maybe I’m older and wiser, or just more humble, but the thought occurred to me that I am not entitled to run a marathon just because I want to or because I’ve done it in the past. I need to earn it. I need to put in more base miles…more non-glamorous, non-medal earning, non-Facebook-worthy runs to become a real runner again. How foolish I was to think that after almost 3 years off, I could suddenly bust out a marathon PR in 3 months. Sigh.
This is what I love/hate about running. It favors no one. It does not reward intent or desire, only action. You cannot buy or hack your way to success. You must do the work. And so, I’m continuing with my plans to become a marathoner again, but Richmond will have to be another stop along my longer journey instead of the destination. I still wake up every day grateful for the miles I can do, and so happy to be a runner. That’s why I know I’m still following the right path.