So for those who don’t know, the city of Memphis has an amazing running club named “Memphis Runenrs Track Club,” or “MRTC” for short. With annual membership, over 3500 runners from around the city receive lower races fees, discounts at local running stores, as well fellowship with other like-minded people. They also receive a monthly newsletter called “The Roadrunner.”
I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple articles published in it before, but this past March (or was it April??) I was absolutely stoked when the editor sought me out asking me to submit something again. I explained to him that I hadn’t been running as much as usual due to my pregnancy, but I might be able to send him something later in the year, after the training for my first marathon began. His response made my day when he asked me to submit not only one article, but a series of them leading up to my first 26.2 mile run, post baby. Then, of course, with a follow up piece after the race.
I was super flattered (and slightly sure that his request of me proved he was just desperate for pieces to fill his monthly journal) and agreed.
So here it is. The first of at least two or three submissions. Hope y’all enjoy it as much as I liked writing it. 🙂 I’ve included the text below for you to read, if you’d like.
One Day at a Time
“Listen to your body,” she said. “You’ll know when you can go at it again.”
“Famous last words,” I thought to myself as fire shot up my legs while attempting to run up a neighborhood hill yesterday afternoon. I was listening to my body and it was definitely telling me to NOT continue this run… and possibly never even consider running again.
Let me back up and start from the beginning. Seven weeks ago, I decided it was a marvelous plan to register for my very first full marathon. The St. Jude Memphis Marathon has a stellar reputation and it benefits an amazing hospital. It is a race that is near and dear to not only our city, but to thousands of children and families across the country. So, it was not hard for me to decide that the St. Jude Marathon, being held this coming December 7, would be my first official full marathon.
I have been a runner for a number of years and love everything about it. I love the mental and physical challenge it offers. I love the community it brings. I love the challenge of racing. I have done countless 5K’s, 10K’s, trail races, half marathons… you name it. However, the elusive 26.2 has always kept me at bay – until now.
On a whim, I not only registered myself, but also somehow was able to convince a good friend of mine to join me as well. (She will thank me later, I’m hoping … though probably not until December 9, when the soreness has had time to wear off.) This way we could not only hold each other accountable, but even train together as well.
Fast forward one week, which for those counting, puts us at 6 weeks ago. This just so happens to be the week that I gave birth to my second child and entered into the exhausting world of newborn-hood. After giving my body a few weeks to begin recovering from labor, I began to get the itch. You know the one. Where all you want to do is lace up your shoes and hit the road and lose yourself and reality for a little while and just run.
When that itch started to really get itchy, I thought back to what my doctor has told me before leaving the hospital. Knowing I was a runner, she had said, “Listen to your body. You’ll know when you can go at it again.” Well, I was listening. My body was finally telling me to get out there.
Or so I thought … because on that first hill, on that first real “run” back (some might even call it a walk with a slight speed increase), that “marvelous” plan of registering for St. Jude was not seeming so marvelous anymore. My legs and lungs were burning and I struggled through every step. In as little as nine months, hat used to be an easy, short route through my neighborhood had somehow become equivalent to the infamous Bataan Death March. I sure felt like I was marching towards my own death on the last stretch, at least. About half way up every hill, my legs tried to slow to a walk, and a little voice in the back of my head was telling me that would be okay to do so. Or that it would be okay to just not finish the run. There was another voice though. This other one reminded me of all the times I have slowed and/or never even finished. The times that I regretted not too long later. Luckily, the latter voice won out and I finished. Slowly, but I finished, none-the-less.
Arriving home, I collapsed on my floor in a sweaty, discouraged mess. When had running become so hard? Okay, so running is always hard. The words of Greg Lemond ring true just as much for running as they do for cycling, “It never gets easier, you only get faster.”
However, I had continued running for as long as I could throughout my pregnancy and had expected to “bounce back” rather quickly. While I never thought I would immediately be right back to the pace and distances I left off at, I did not expect this short two-three mile loop I had just gone to nearly kill me. I wondered how I was going to be able to make it a full 26.2 miles in just a few short months. I was glad at this point I had persuaded my friend to register with me, because had she not, there is a good chance my entry fee would be turning into a generous donation to St. Jude.
Thinking about the long training hours I had ahead, another doctor’s visit popped into my mind. When my husband and I took our new little girl to the pediatrician for the first time, that doctor looked me straight in the eye and said, “Remember, take it one day at a time.” Concerning parenting, this is probably the best advice I have ever received. Although her words were meant towards the hardships and struggles of dealing with a newborn, these words ring just as loudly and as true in my trek towards accomplishing my first marathon.
“One day at a time.”
“Listen to your body.”
Having to more or less begin training from scratch, I have no choice but to take it one day at a time. As I move farther along in my training, I’ll be forced to listen to my body. And quite frankly, my body will have to listen to me when I tell it to keep pushing. There are children at St. Jude depending on me to do this.
So, here goes. I am following the doctors’ orders and am going to listen to my body. One day at a time. I will listen all the way until December 7. Where I will run my very first 26.2 consecutive miles. One mile at a time. One hill at a time. One step at a time.