Growing up, I LOVED the countdown to the start of a new school year. It came with an emotional bundle of apprehension, optimism, and nervous anticipation. Fresh school supplies, a first day of school outfit, a finely tuned new organization plan, and a hopeful vision for what surely would be a perfect year. A little nerdy and unrealistic? Sure. But apparently not much has changed because my build up to the start of Chicago Marathon training played out much the same way.
Just like I mentally scripted the start of each school year, I optimistically planned for the beginning of Chicago Marathon training. With six months between my New York City Marathon finish and the start of training for Chicago there was plenty of time to build up to “perfect”. Plenty of time to ditch the junk and fuel my body with a clean diet. To incorporate yoga into my training routine, and reap the benefits of strong, flexible muscles. To maintain my distance training and start to push my paces. To read my growing list of running books and articles and build my mental game. In short, to begin Day 1 with both my body and mind operating at their peak. Perfection.
Never let it be said that I don’t know how to dream. Big.
My actual status, Week One:
1) Unless you count following along with a DVD from 2008, I haven’t completed a single formal yoga class. I have, however, identified a studio that has peaked my interest and recruited a small circle of friends, including my daughter, to attend classes with me.
2) In my six months “off” I’ve completed races at 5k, 10k, 7 mile, 10 mile, and Half Marathon distances, but at paces that were slower than my PRs and often against my better judgment as I fought against a hamstring injury. I spent the better part of the past two months trying to maintain fitness while allowing my hamstring to heal. If I had to put a percentage on it, I’d say I’m finally about 90% at the start of marathon training, and desperately hoping that it holds.
3) We have a beautiful, artisan, ceramic bowl sitting in the middle of our kitchen island … that my husband dutifully keeps fully stocked with M&Ms “for the kids.” Damn if I can’t walk by that bowl without taking one or two (or a dozen, but who’s counting).
4) I made a dent in my running-literature list, but seem to continue to grow as I discover new runner-writers. My list is getting longer, and the more I learn the more I discover I want to know. But that is the point of learning, right?
5) We cook at home six nights a week, and fresh fruits and vegetables play a major role. But so do desserts and connections to wine country. As it turns out, when you are 46 years old and are between marathon training, those lost pounds can creep back on without much effort. So, I’ve got a little work to do.
In short, at the start of marathon training, I am far from perfect.
I am human.
But starting this training process with all of my faults and shortcomings, is exactly where I should be right now. Being human by definition includes acknowledgment of my imperfections and brings with it a humility necessary to take on a challenge that is destined to come with both struggles and triumphs. The recognition that I can have setbacks and the optimistic confidence that I have the strength to push through is probably the single best thing to have on my side as I embark on this new marathon journey.
Here we go …