While pounding over the gravel in the clear morning sunlight of November on Tuesday, I hit my “runner’s high”. Clarity filled my brain like a pot that sat dusty and abandoned during the drought of summer. And all of a sudden I was thankful for the injuries, the emotional battles, the tears and the all the words that have surrounded this marathon training process.
The saying goes… “Something that isn’t earned has no value”… or something like that.
And in that moment I realized how much I value the work that I’ve done over these past months. I started training because it was something I could sink my soul into, a goal I could work toward and try for and accomplish. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started, but I knew I was ready to try. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and see what I was made of.
If I had to name the thing that’s made the biggest difference over the months, it’s the fact that I’m so far out of my comfort zone the map is entirely blank. I don’t have any frame of reference for what I’m doing and where I’m going. Marathon training is a leap of faith, and I’m learning to trust each and every moment that happens, regardless of if I like, understand or welcome it. It’s there for a reason.
And at mile four, right there on Bobolink Trail, I was pretty darn happy. I was running again, relatively pain-free. And I realized that all this marathon training has been like climbing a big stinking mountain… Mount Adversity.
It’s been a beautiful mountain, don’t get me wrong, and I’m certainly not here by myself. The weather here on Mount Adversity gets dicey at times, but then the sun comes out and shows all the beauty that was hiding underneath shadows or in the nooks and crannies of waterfalls and caves.
When you play on Mount Adversity, you have to be ready for a challenge. It has ever-changing terrain and pitfalls as well, so even if you’ve climbed a route before, it’ll never be the same again. You have to find your way all over again. And the people who are in your group are fluid as well; everyone else can come and go as they please, it’s just YOU who is here for the long haul.
And in that mile, and the ones that came afterward, I realized how much I’ve battled and how much I’ve accomplished.
I’ve overcome tiredness, and the guilt that came when I was too tired to play soccer with my son on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after my first Long Run.
I bounced like a big red rubber ball after an emotional fart blew stink on me when the weather and roads forced me to change my carefully planned route mid-run.
I’ve drilled into the emotional caverns of my psyche to rebuild myself when I had to stop running because my body wouldn’t cooperate.
I’ve absorbed so much science about glycogen, calorie deficit, oxygen use and carb loading that I could write a veritable thesis on the topic.
I asked the intimate question, “Who Supports Me” and had the courage to stand face to face with the answers.
I’ve changed my entire way of eating, worked with a nutritionist, received acupuncture on a weekly basis, and embarked on an epic journey to see who I am, where I’ve been, and what holds me back.
And I keep running.
This is Mount Adversity. I am the one tackling this mountain, and the blessed truth is that I am not alone. I’m glad to have had the opportunity in my lifetime to learn the lessons that have come at me. I hold this training, this goal of mine, in the highest esteem because it is worthwhile. The journey, the fight, the seeking… all of it has been worthwhile.
When I started this training, I didn’t know who “Lara” was going to be on December 5, 2010, at the end of 26.2 miles. And the outcome wasn’t nearly as important as the process of climbing Mount Adversity.