Monday, May 26, 2014

Don't Make Decisions Going Uphill

My husband said that to me the other day. He actually said I told him that once. I don't remember saying it, but there's a lot I don't remember lately (thanks, pregnancy brain!). Whether I did or didn't say it, it was a piece of advice I needed to hear.

Last week was a week of painful runs, poor sleep, and general irritation at how uncomfortable I'm getting. I wondered aloud, more than once, why on earth I'm still trying to run, and whether it's worth it, and whether I even want to run anymore after the baby, let alone train for ultras. Dramatic, yes, I know.

And that's when he imparted this bit of wisdom: Don't make long-term decisions while you're going uphill. At the time, I thought whined, "Yeah, yeah. But this is hard. And it's not fun."

But this morning I had a great run. The weather was cloudy and cool, and I got in a good three miles with minimal pain. I remembered his words and smiled. I'm so glad I didn't let last week make me quit yet. I am so glad I had this run.

Almost exactly two years ago, I ran my first ultra, the Jemez Mountain 50k. In the first ten miles, the course climbs to the top of a ski mountain, and in that stretch I did as much walking as running. Painful, oxygen-deprived walking and even more painful running. I knew my mom was waiting for me at the next aid station, and I fully intended to drop out there and let her drive me home.

But the aid station wasn't at the top of the mountain. I had to go back down first, and in that short stretch of blissful descent, I had just enough time to change my mind. I didn't drop, and I am so, so glad.

I recall that race all the time, as motivation on tough runs. You'd think by now I would have learned that lesson applies to life as well as running. Keeping up my fitness during this pregnancy, with round ligament pain and fatigue, has seemed like an uphill race getting steeper with each step. But today reminded me why it's a bad idea to quit just because the going gets tough: you never know when it might get a lot better.

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