Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Block Everything Else Out

Lately, as I've been challenging myself to tackle longer distances when running, I've found myself blocking out almost everything else while I run. I can't hear myself breathe. I put a halt on all of the crazy thoughts that jumble around in my head. I even manage to block out Eminem's voice rapping into my ears. It's not easy however to achieve this. Generally when I run, I'm in a 20 minute to hour long battle with myself. I'm usually pleading with myself to stop and thinking about all of the ways in which I'd be justified in doing so. I'll work my way from my feet up slowly identifying each and every pain I feel with each pace. Sometimes, my voice wins and I'll stop running and let myself "catch my breath" while walking it out for a minute. Funny thing is, when I run, it's rarely my breath that is the issue. Yeah, it's not easy to breathe and I REALLY have to focus in order to maintain a consistent breathing pattern, but most of the time I give into the pain or the tiredness in my legs. It's only in those few moments, those not too often runs, that I'm able to block all of that out and just put one foot after the other.

Today was one of those days. I was inspired by fellow cyster and awesome runner, Karen Vega. If you don't know who she is, you should and you should follow her story. Some of you may remember a guest post of hers about what inspired her to run and what amazing results she's had so far. What inspired me today however was an article recently written about her and her upcoming attempt to run a marathon. I already knew her story, but reading it again gave me the kick in the pants I needed today to lace up my shoes and hit the road. Not only that, but I used it as fuel to push myself beyond my usual 1.8 mile loop. I set out on a new route, not knowing the distance, only knowing that if I set out on it I would not stop until I was finished.

That's not to say it was easy. In fact, today's run was harder than most. I don't know if it was the pizza I had for lunch, or the fact that I had a cough that wouldn't quit, but I was barely able to not throw-up for almost half of my run. But I was not deterred. I kept going. I thought about Karen's story and how hard she must of pushed herself from going from having twins, to an all-time low lung function, to preparing for a marathon. I thought to myself, if she can do that, there's no reason that you can't finish this run strong. And that's when it happened, every sound, object, person, car and footstep didn't exist. I was in the zone. I could feel my pace quickening, yet I wasn't uncomfortable. I would cough, and my breathing pattern was uninterrupted. I'm sure I was in pain, but I didn't feel it. All I knew, is that I had about a quarter of a mile left and I wanted to finish strong. Nothing else mattered. All that mattered was the finish.

As I rounded the final corner heading into my driveway, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Not that the run was over (3.17 miles), but the way in which I battled through and was able to block everything out and just run. It rarely happens for me, but when it does, it feels incredible. I wish I could give you guys an inside track on how to get into this mindset when you run. Unfortunately, I'm a rookie when it comes to this. I'd actually have to turn the question back to some of you. Do any of you experience this during a workout or a run? If so, how do you get to that place? Any tips for me? I'd like to get back there as often as I can. It would make my runs so much more enjoyable. And I have a feeling if they were more enjoyable, I would run for longer and if I ran longer, it be better for the old airbags. So help a fibro out, let me in on your secret!

Funny thing is, when I was doing my cool down walk my neighbor was getting out of his car and shouted "Man, I saw you running down the street and I thought you weren't going to make it". To which I responded, "You have no idea!". Little does he know, I HAVE to make it, I give myself no other choice. See, I didn't choose to run because I love it, I chose to run because I love my life. Live to run? No. Run to live.