Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Support, Balance & Not-So-Tough Decisions

So, two weeks ago I was still couch-ridden, recovering from this little surgical episode, but now I feel almost completely back to normal. Seems like this laparoscopy thing is a pretty cool advance in medicine and really did allow for a quick bounce-back. Almost too quick, really, given my personality.  I feel like I am at 100 percent, although I guess the internal healing isn't quite done yet. That's why my surgeon was cautious about me heading back to trail running right away, and why he discouraged me from even thinking about running the White Rock marathon last weekend. But... nobody said anything about me running the Fiesta Marathon NEXT weekend...

See where I'm going here? After the tutu came off and the rush of seeing so many of my friends and other runners out on the course Sunday wore off, the sadness and frustration of not getting Maniacs in 2010 started to hit me again. I thought I had come to grips with it, that the "hands of fate" or whatever had interceded and given me not one, but two, signs in my knee and gallbladder that I needed to Calm the F Down and take a break. My health and the ability to do this running thing as long as I can is more important than becoming Maniacs right now, right? Right? I know that. But still, in the quiet of the night on Sunday I started to think that maybe it wasn't out of reach. Maybe it was possible if I could find another December race to just finish and still get Maniacs in 2010. So on Monday, I pulled up MarathonGuide.com and searched for December marathons. There is one in McAllen, Texas, down in the Rio Grande Valley, where I grew up. Where it's flat (no incline, but more importantly for Miss Cranky Left Meniscus, no descents). It has a seven-hour time limit. That's a 16:00/mile (yes, I ran the numbers). The thoughts started.

I checked my airline miles balance and have enough for a $5 ticket round-trip down and back. There are seats available on flights where I could have breakfast with the boys on Saturday and dinner with them on Sunday. I have barely enough of my road warrior hotel points left that I could get a room at a hotel across the street from the expo/start/finish line. The hotel has an airport shuttle. All this trip would cost me is food (I'm gonna eat whether I'm here or there so it doesn't really count, right?) and the entry fee. All this trip would cost me is 5+ hours on my feet. I wouldn't be in any position to race this for a time goal, I knew that. But if I could just finish, I would have Maniacs. I wouldn't have to wait until March. I could have it NOW!!

All these thoughts were jumbled in my head all morning long. I asked my Twitterverse if I should do it.  Note to self - don't ask a bunch of crazy runners if you should do some crazy running. They will only encourage you and most likely join you. I did have one amazing friend txt me offline and ask what the hell was I thinking?  and what was I trying to prove? and telling me to be careful if I did it because she'd kick my a$$ if I got hurt. But she knew that if it was in my heart to do it that I was going to do it. And she would be supportive of me for it. The Twitter consensus was to go for it. And that's what I really wanted to do.

But I hadn't consulted my husband or my family yet. I hadn't told them of my plans, mostly already formulated in my head if not formally through confirmed online reservations. Let me be clear about something: I do not have to "ask permission" from my husband to race. I think it is just common courtesy and a thoughtful thing to do to make final decisions about my races with him, so that I can be sure that I'm not getting so carried away with my race plans that I overlook some important family obligation, or put us into debt with plane tickets or race fees or hotel costs. Racing can be very expensive, and when you are as slow as I am, it takes time away from the family.  I am gone for hours at a time when I am out running, even if I just step outside my door, something that I am less and less likely to do these days now that I prefer trails or when I would rather run with my friends in different parts of FW-D.  I missed most of the day on Sunday when I was out cheering the marathoners - I left my house at 6:00 AM and didn't get home until nearly 3:00 PM. It is only right that I make sure my plans don't interfere with the family activities and that they don't take up so much time that I neglect the most important people in my life.

And this is where the support that we as runners get from our families is so very important. I have said here before and I will say it again many times before I die - I could not do what I do without the support and love and backing from my family, especially my husband. He does not understand the passion I feel for running. He has never felt the "runner's high" when he slogs out 6 miles on the treadmill at the gym. He's done some 5Ks but doesn't have the bug to race and run like I do. And that's OK. Because he doesn't have to understand it to know that it is something that is critically important to me. It is a part of my very soul. So to have his support and backing is critical. And how I maintain that support and backing is actually pretty simple: I don't let my running take over our lives. My family is not, at this time anyway, centered around my running. We have hockey games and gymnastics practice, and band concerts and parades that we need to do. And I have to fit my passion in and around all the things that everyone else in my house has going on, all the things that are important to them. Because we all matter. We are all important members of this family.

So, when I sent him an email yesterday outlining the situation, that I needed one more race to get Maniacs and here is the plan, I didn't think he would say no. And he didn't. He said, in a nutshell, "if you think you really need to do it, go ahead." And then he also gave me some things to think about, being pragmatic and practical in that non-runner kind of way. He asked me if I felt my knee was really fully healed (I think so, but probably not - I need at least two-three more treatments before Dr. Kemp is sure it is OK), and if I thought my body was really ready so soon after the surgery to handle 26 miles. He asked about my training, and reminded me that I only really started running again last week and had three full weeks completely off after New York. But he never said "No, don't do it."  Instead, he led me to make the decision that I knew was the right one all along. I know this was a crazy-hare idea. I know this doesn't make sense and that it's too soon. But that immature, want-it-NOW part of me thought it might be OK. So I was glad that my husband knows me well enough to encourage me to do something if I felt I really needed to, but also to guide me to do the right thing. And he did it all in a way that didn't take away my control or make me feel that he didn't want me to do it. I knew he was concerned for my health and well-being, though, and I know that he was most concerned that I not injure myself further.

Ultimately, I decided not to do the Fiesta Marathon. I might have added it to my list, though, since they give you a sombrero at the finish along with your medal. A sombrero!! How cool would that be?!  But really, although the realization that not running this race meant that my 2010 season was over was somewhat depressing, I know it is for the best and I know that this is the most logical decision I could have made for my family and really, for myself.  So, no more racing until 2011, which I start off with a bang at the New Year's Day Half-Marathon. It will be a great day for a race and a wonderful way to start 2011.


Lesley @ racingitoff.com said...

You WILL get that Maniac label. Next year, girl, I know it! I think you made the right decision cause hurting yourself further could've taken you out even longer.

Look forward to seeing you at NYD Half!!!

hokgardner said...

I think you made a wise choice, as hard as it was to make.

And it's good to have husbands who can keep us on an even keel when we need it, isn't it.