how training for a 50 miler got me through Mother’s Day

10 May

Running.  Life.  Running as a metaphor for life….


I’ve been running so many miles for the past year…I’ve never run like this before.  Even when I was training for road marathons, I was lucky to hit 25 mile weeks…which to a non-runner may sound like a lot, but to a runner, particularly a marathoner, 25 mile weeks are not much (which may have something to do with my mediocre performances haha).  Let’s just say that I wasn’t very committed to my running, but I have discovered that training…real training…ya know, with big miles and bigger hills and shit…actually makes you feel very accomplished and is even kind of enjoyable.  So I’ve pretty much doubled my mileage within the past year.  And while 25 mile weeks aren’t much, 40-50+ mile weeks are a lot, especially when you’re not a super fast runner…like me. 🙂


At first, the extra miles were hard.  Everything hurt, walking after a big week was tough…but then you adjust to “the new normal.”  It’s not that things stop hurting, really.  You just get used to the soreness and fatigue.  And that’s the whole point of training I suppose (well maybe not the WHOLE point…but the major point of ultra training).  To teach your body to suck it up buttercup.  You can do more than your stupid brain thinks.  I don’t think you get that much stronger physically (although there’s certainly an element of that) as it is that you get stronger mentally.  You learn that you can go farther and faster…


I was thinking about this today as I went to get a sports massage (Eric forced me–the idea of massage kind of weirds me out, but I know it’s good for me, and Josh is fantastic).  Josh asked what I wanted him to work on and I said that nothing really hurts, but then through further talk I realized that things hurt.  Kind of.  But it’s tolerable.  In fact, most days I hardly notice it any more.  But if I really stop to check in, or if I touch a muscle in just the right way, I can feel that now-familiar ache of running big mileage weeks chock full of big climbing.  Hurts so good.


So how do all those miles help get me through the worst day of the year?  Mother’s Day may well be my least favorite day of the year.  For 6 years I’ve put on a happy face and dealt with feeling like a complete asshole for wanting nothing more than to stay home in bed and have a pity party for myself.  Man nothing makes you feel shittier than feeling shitty about feeling shitty–what a cycle.  Mind fuck central.


So I apprehensively woke up Sunday to go to Buffalo to “celebrate.”  But somehow this year was easier.  It’s not that it didn’t hurt.  It did.  But I only cried twice all day–once when my sister tagged me in a nice FB note and once when we watched “The Best of Me” before bed.  I cried a lot during the movie–but if you’ve seen it (or read any Nicholas Sparks’ novel), then you know that’s kind of the whole point.   The parts of the movie that made me cry most were the ones where parental relationships were portrayed.  Shocking.  Should’ve just stuck to the X Files (man that show is disturbing!!)


This lack of tears is strange because in years past, I would’ve had to step into the bathroom numerous times to compose myself during the course of Mother’s Day.  Sweet messages from friends who know how hard this day is for me (because every year I get messages…and thank you so much to those of you who send said messages!) normally make me cry–this year I just read and responded and was happy knowing that people “got it”–that they saw me for what I am (the sad person on what is supposed to be a happy day) and loved me anyway.  I would have likely cried in the car on the way home–a sweet release of all the pent-up feelings that I’d had to hide away all day long.


Somehow this year, though, just like the ache of muscles that you can mostly ignore, Mother’s Day came and went.  The ache was there, but it wasn’t as acute as it has always been.  Maybe this is because we are not currently pursuing any treatments (which means less stress from the when-will-it-happen-if-ever and also less hormones raging).  Maybe this is because we didn’t see my little siblings, so it was just grown-ups all day (although even my littlest siblings are getting to be quite the grown-ups themselves…).  Or maybe this is because I am finally “acclimating” to our situation.  I’m not sure how I feel about that last one…I don’t like thinking that this is what it will always be like, this numbness and acceptance of a situation you hate, although after 6 years of it being this way, it’s also hard to imagine anything different.


What I do know is that running has taught me so much about myself–particularly about how to get through tough mental moments. And yesterday even though things were hurting and my brain was asking for some down time, we kept pushing forward…relentless forward progress.  And I made it through with only some slightly ache-y feelings.  If you want to get tougher mentally, I’m telling you training for an ultramarathon will get you there.





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