It is What it is: Race Eve Edition

So I’m racing tomorrow. The first race of 2015….the one that seemed so far away during the middle of a frigid and nasty winter. When I signed up back in January, we hadn’t seen the ground since Thanksgiving. Temperatures were consistently below zero and I was questioning all life decisions that lead us to Vermont. At the time, it was almost impossible to imagine seeing grass, hearing the birds sing, and watching flowers start to bloom…let alone think about ever feeling warm again.

Thankfully I don’t have to.

endless winter_april 9

These photos were taken yesterday, April 9th, after an overnight snowstorm dumped several inches of fresh powder everywhere. Good thing, because our yard was almost clear of all the white stuff. And we’d really hate for that to happen…

endless winter_april 9_2Even Amelia is confused

Honestly it’s kind of fitting for the way training has gone for this race. Things started off well enough. I had been consistently going to the gym for early morning runs on the treadmill for about a month when I finally committed to the half. Had even been working in weekly speed sessions for the first time in years, and was finally starting to feel stronger after a lazy holiday season. I never meant for this to be a goal race, but I had hoped for it to be the start of a strong season of running and racing. A baseline to kick off the comeback of “speedy” Lauren.

But then we went on vacation in early March and that was sort of the beginning of the end. Amelia got sick on vacation (why I expected any differently when taking an active “must-touch-everything” toddler on a plane during winter is beyond me) and then passed some sort of nasty sinus/upper respiratory infection on to me. I stubbornly refused to see a doctor, thinking it would clear up on its own. But the effects lingered for weeks. My head weighed a million pounds and I couldn’t breathe well while walking, which meant running was out of the question. Even after I felt better, I could tell my lungs weren’t 100% for a long time.

Then last week Amelia got sent home from “school” with conjunctivitis. Fortunately the case was mild and viral but there wasn’t much relief for her. That turned into a nasty cold which led to a fever which brings us to today: Day 3 of temperatures of 101+ and a diagnosed ear infection (after mom finally decided that maybe it was time to actually see a doctor).

We’ve spent way too much time hanging out in pharmacies lately

Meanwhile I’ve been eating citrus and drinking Nuun like it’s some sort of magical potion to ward off all illness, terrified that I’ll wake up on race morning unable to move. Evan has been gone since early yesterday morning (sickness always happens when he’s gone overnight. Every single time, without fail). I haven’t run since Wednesday and my hopes of doing a short “shake out” run today seem pretty dim…well, unless I want to take my sick child out in the pouring rain. She won’t mind, right? 

But that’s kind of how training is now. Unpredictable and never as good as I would’ve liked. I could chalk it all up to motherhood — the missed runs, consistently lower mileage, a never-ending cycle of sickness (seriously – how are we not both immune to every single bug under the sun yet??) — and no one could argue. My days are ruled by a 20 pound hurricane that brings both joy and chaos to my daily life.

But the reality is, crap happens that’s out of your control even if you’re not a parent. And if I’m being completely honest with myself, it’s not like I was super-mega-dedicated to training pre-baby either. Sure I ran a lot more, but I skipped workouts from laziness, got more than my fair share of colds on a regular basis, and struggled with losing motivation during long winters when the snow piled high and temps dropped below freezing.

It’s easy to look back now and think — what did I used to do with all my time?? How did I not have perfect training cycles? How was I not more focused or faster or fitter or any of those other things that seem so unobtainable now? Easy to think about how fast I should have or could have been.

But at the end of the day, at least for me…running is just running. No more, no less. It adds structure to my week, is my favorite form of stress relief and meditation, brings me joy and release and keeps me fit. I can’t imagine a life without running and hope I never have to. But I’m not paid to do it and it’s not my only focus.

I do still wonder how after all this time, I find myself constantly struggling to find a balance. And I question if the day will ever come when I no longer feel like I’m cobbling together some sort of training cycle, and everything fits together perfectly (…and we all ride off into the sunset on unicorns).

But I think maybe this is my balance (I am beginning to sound a bit like a broken record, after all). I’m running enough to keep me happy and in shape…most of the time. And I’m still able to put in some training for races. Might not be the ideal training I’d want, but I’m still doing it. And at this point, that’s enough.

So tomorrow, I have no idea what will happen when I stand on that starting line. It’s a small, no-frills race with a flat course. Can’t really ask for much more than that. Although I hope to feel good, my only real goal is to beat my time from last year, when I was just 4 months postpartum. And to not get sick. That one’s key.

If I can avoid that and make it to the finish line feeling good enough for a Switchback, then we’ll call tomorrow a success.



winter

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