I've started to write this post so many times. In fact, there are about 5 versions of it saved as drafts in my blogger account. I really wasn't sure about where to go with what I was feeling, physically and mentally, and all the different posts reflected the various different things going through my head.
Because my running has not been going so great. This past weekend I had to face the fact that in the first 5 weeks of this training program I have never, not once week, hit the mileage I was meant to. Most weeks I was a few miles short but every week there was at least one workout I could not complete. My stomach ache has not got worse but not got better either. And I am exhausted. Just worn out. I have been dragging myself out onto the road. And dragging myself through my workouts. I found myself on an evening, about 10 days ago, lacing up my shoes and saying to my husband that I really didn't want to go for a run. "Well don't then" he said. And I said to him that I had to. If I didn't run, I told him, I wasn't a runner anymore, and if I wasn't a runner anymore then I don't know who I am. This statement just burst out of me and I was so shocked I headed out straight for my run. But that thought keeps coming back to me. Is it true? Do I think it's true? What do I mean by it?
You all know me by now. I am the girl who never did any exercise, who ended up living in the countryside with a husband and two tiny children, not working, overweight and somehow, amazingly, I started to run. Very slowly, but I did it. I threw myself at WeightWatchers, for the umpteenth time but for the first time while exercising, and it worked. I lost weight I had been hanging onto for a decade, and more, and found myself in the course of this. I started running races, ran my first marathon (4:55), started blogging and found this incredible world out there of other runners. Running has transformed me, physically but also very much mentally. It has sustained me through some very tough times and has given me something to feel good about when I've felt I was achieving very little in other parts of my life. It is the thing people know about me. When they see me they ask me what event I'm training for, how many marathons I've run and I proudly tell them. I also tell them that if I can do it, so can they.
Through all the various stuff that has gone in my life, particularly in the last year, running and being a runner has helped me to stay the course, to feel worthwhile and valuable. I could tell, in the past week, that my training was not on course. But I felt utterly incapable of knowing what to do with myself without it.
Then I went to the doctor's for the results of my tests this morning. And relax - there's nothing too serious going on. My tests came back negative so I'm going to have a scan to check out what is going on with this mild but persistent pain in my lower abdomen. While I was there I got chatting to my lovely GP, who is a runner and a mother and who I really like, and we checked out my iron levels again. Which are still very very low despite the fact that I've been taking iron levels on and off for a year now. I told her I was exhausted and feeling very rundown and she told me that with my iron levels where they are she is not surprised. My body is constantly trying to replenish its diminished stores and trying to push myself to run 50+ miles a week is right now asking too much of it. I said to her that I had been thinking that maybe, just maybe, I should not run my planned marathon in September and she just told me straight that she thought I shouldn't. I shouldn't train that hard, and shouldn't push myself that hard, with my body in the condition it's in at the moment. She said I was ignoring what my body was telling me (true) and that, if I made it across the finish line at all without giving up halfway, my recovery would be very very long. Our priority right now, is to do something more constructive and long term about the anaemia (for once, I'll spare you the TMI but I'm pretty certain I know why I'm anaemic and how to resolve it - it's just a bit, well, involved).
On the way back I phoned Dawn. My BFF who totally understands me and the state I'm in - and why this all matters so much. She realises how much of my identity is caught up in my not only being a runner, but a marathoner. And how hard it is to let that go, even for a while. But she pointed out that if I got things sorted in the next few months I would have plenty of time to train for Boston. And be a much stronger runner when I'm out there.
So I'm ditching the Robin Hood marathon for this year. I'm taking a step back. I'm not giving up on running but for now, I'm going to be running 5-10 milers. I like being fit and I want to stay out there, but I'm benched for this marathon season.
I'm okay with this. Apart from anything, I'm so tired. I'm not missing those sloggy 14 milers. But I will miss you all - feeling a part of it. I'll miss running a marathon this autumn. I'll, basically, feel left out. But I'm a big girl - don't feel sorry for me. I'm going to get over myself, follow you guys and cheer you along. I'm saving myself for Boston..