Staying Afloat

In less than two weeks, I’ll be lining up to run the Shamrock Half-Marathon. I wasn’t sure if this race was even a reality a few weeks ago. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a quality long run. In fact, my last double-digit run was at the Surfin Santa 10-miler the first weekend in December. The weeks after that race lead me to drop down to the half marathon from the full marathon. They also lead me to an ankle injury.

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I’m really good at sinking the ship. My husband has told me this more times than I can count. In arguments, when our ship is starting to take on water, I don’t bail water. I add water to the boat. The ship is going down, and I speed up the process. This bad habit has followed me my whole life.

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When I ran the Richmond marathon in November, my ship started to take on water at mile 10. I threw up. For the first time (maybe ever), I didn’t sink the ship. I collected myself, I started running again, and I moved on to Plan B. And then plan C, D and E. After I got sick each time, I just kept moving forward. I bailed water!

The same thing happened at the Surfin Santa 10-miler. The miles on the boardwalk in the wind left me flat. When I got off the boardwalk with two more miles to run, I collected myself and kept going. I bailed water again.

When I reflected on both of these races, this lesson missed me. I never saw either race from this perception until I had a conversation with Jerry from J&A Racing. He casually pointed out that I stayed mentally engaged when I could have given up.

I came home that night happy to tell my husband that I was learning to bail water.

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In January I started running with Coach Ryan Carroll. When my ankle injury happened, he constantly reminded me to keep moving. Injuries, while annoying and a blow to my cardiovascular endurance, can be a great opportunity to find strength in other aspects of life. Ryan got me back on my bike, something that hasn’t happened in three years. In every conversation we’ve had, he’s reminded me to keep moving. He’s reminded me to bail water.

After easing back into training, this Saturday was my first long run where I planned on testing my legs. The outcome was far better than I expected: 10 miles at a 9:23 pace. All that’s left now is to show up on race day and run what my coach tells me to run. This race isn’t a goal race. It’s a starting point for 2014. While I have some time goals in mind, my mission on race day is to keep my ship afloat.

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I would never wish for an injury, but this injury delivered so many gifts. I took away all my excuses to not bike. It has given me permission to run shamrock free of self-imposed expectations. It’s showed me that maybe, just maybe, bailing water is now my approach to life.

This ship isn’t sinking! Hand me a bucket. I finally know how to bail water!

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2 thoughts on “Staying Afloat

  1. This is a beautifully written post and thank you for sharing. I think a lot of people do this more than they would like to admit. With every injury I’ve had, I’ve learned something else about myself. I’ve become a new and stronger runner. I can only hope that it will help you too!

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