This weekend, I ran. I ran 14 miles. Although I have been here before, it feels like a life time ago – the lifetime that existed before my heart was broken by a stress fracture, and the lifetime that existed before my running days became slow and more of a waddle during pregnancy. It’s been less than two years since I’ve run 14 miles, but life has changed. A lot.
I ran 14 miles without my running partner. I ran 14 miles solo. I ran 14 miles on trails in our local state park. When I finished, I wanted to tell the stranger who was next to me what I had just accomplished, but she never made eye contact. I wanted to high-five someone. I wanted to hug someone. I just wanted someone to smile at me, but no one was around (besides the one lady who was avoiding eye contact). As I walked back to my car, emotion overwhelmed me. I stopped next to this tree to stretch and enjoy its shade. Tears started. Tears wouldn’t stop. I sat next to this tree, and I cried. I cried exhausted tears. I cried triumphant tears. I cried tears of pride and happiness.
I’ve made it back. I’ve made it back to the place I left when my femur failed me. I’ve made it back to the place I was afraid I would lose during my pregnancy. I’m back adding miles and more miles. I’m back on my quest to run 26.2 miles.
The 14 miles didn’t come easy. At mile 8, I wanted to crawl back to my car. As I stopped to refill my water bottle, I reached out to my running partner and my husband. I needed a pep talk. I had six more miles to tackle (less than a 10k when I’m giving myself my own pep talk). My husband responded with words he knew I needed. Relax and Breathe and focus on your next turn. Enjoy yourself. My running partner responded with the reminder that I can do this.
Tears found me again. From mile 8 to 9, I silently cried more tears. The tears got lost with my sweat, but they were the release I needed. I can do this. I focused on the next trail marker. I had six more trail markers ahead of me – Long Creek passed Fox Run passed King Fischer detoured off onto Osprey back to Long Creek and final to 64th Street. I could handle each segment. With a few stops to regroup and to take a quick photo, I finished my run.
I’m back, and I feel better and stronger and more in awe of my body. I’m back with a new respect for what I’m about to tackle. While I left my quest for a marathon on terms I didn’t expect, I’ve learned. I’ve recovered. I’ve birthed a child (again). In those 11 hours of labor, I learned the power of my body. I learned to listen to my body. I learned to trust my body. I’m ready for this new journey to a full marathon. With gentleness and awareness, I’m ready to run.
The journey means so much more this time around.