Thursday, July 27, 2017

On Traveling and Training

It's hard... The end...

No seriously, traveling and training equals extremely tough combination, but somehow I'm managing. You know what else is tough? One hundred plus degree heat index is tough as well, but managing that is somehow easier for me. It simply means accept 20 minute per mile trots with random ultra-marathoners on the trail. So what is in this traveling thing that makes it so difficult? Work, unfamiliar trails, exhaustion, unfamiliar territory and then navigating it all.

I have found myself going back to my hotel, laying across my bed for a little bit and then strapping on my shoes to escape from technology for awhile.

I think what I am learning though is that when traveling, motivation is harder to find and self discipline is so much more important.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Please, Do NOT Call an Ambulance...

I have decided it has been too long. Now that I am several weeks into marathon training it is time to come back to the blog. I love being able to go back to my last marathon training cycle and read about the ups and downs, and quite honestly, I'm looking forward to being able to come back to this training cycle when I train for another marathon.

I have to say that this cycle has been trying for me as my abilities have changed over the years. It isn't better or worse, as I'm fairly certain the last marathon I trained for had trying times as well. I will say this is different because of how my participation in events and running clubs impact other people.

I am constantly saying to people who join new programs or try new things that regardless of their journey to that 'event', they belong there. I live by this and believe it is true. If you joining a new club, or trying something new, or trying something again, regardless of your abilities and skills you DO belong and should feel welcome. Here is the thing, the feeling welcome part is difficult because it is 50% your responsibility to feel welcome, and 50% other people's responsibility to help you feel welcome. This is where I am struggling these days...

My participation in races has been fairly sparse this year. I did the Pi day 5k, the Soldier Field 10 miler, the Pride 5k, and the Clintonville 4 on the 4th. Each of these races have special meaning for me:

  • Pi day 5k was done side by side with the two most important ladies in my life...
  • Soldier Field 10 miler was once again completed with the unwavering support and 'catch' from my big sister, who I greatly admire...
  • Pride 5k which I did with a friend I haven't raced with in YEARS...
  • Clintonville 4 on the 4th which is the first race I was willing to toe the line of alone, since I have been diagnosed with MS...

Although I am blessed to have had these four experiences, I find myself struggling with the sense of belonging at these events, and even at my running club, and I'm in the process of exploring where the responsibility lies. I also want to acknowledge that I will absolutely accept the responsibility if I find it is my own, but if I'm being honest with myself, I do believe it is a shared responsibility. You see, fellow runners, everyone should feel like they are welcome and belong. I know some people disagree, but I promise that I will embrace every person who wants to experience the thrill of a race, regardless of their ability.

Reflecting on my job during high school, it is hugely ironic that I spent a lot of time helping people with physical and developmental disabilities with recreational, and sporting activities. I spent time teaching swim lessons, coaching softball, coaching track, and simply hanging out on Navy Pier on a Friday night, bowling, gardening, you name it, we did it!!! The true irony though is that many of the people I worked with during recreational swimming or on Friday nights had Multiple Sclerosis. I've come full circle perhaps? What I learned from all of the amazing people I worked with during those days is that everyone should have the ability to participate in anything regardless of ability.

This is where my sense of belonging has been challenged in the running community. If you have ever seen me post run, you may have been worried about me... One notable moment that still grates at me was after the Pride 5k. The brilliance of this event is that it was designed to be one of acceptance of all individuals. I guess that some people forgot that at the end of the race. The day was 93 degrees, the race was at 6:00 in the evening and I was hot as hell. Like many people on the course I struggled the whole way, running down the hills and feeling like the only way up the hills was by way of crawling. I managed to finish the race, and was thankful that my friend was there for me at the finish line. She helped me stumble to a comfy place in the grass and went into 'find Sarah something cold mode'... And that she did...

Where the night gets frustrating for me was when I landed not so graciously in the grass and one of the women behind me started asking me if I was OK. I knew that I would be just fine in a little bit, and rather than tell my life story in the moment I simply said to the woman that this was typical and I just needed to cool off and I'd be fine. She scoffed... Another woman was kind and offered up her towel so I could cool down. The original woman said, 'this is typical? kind of dramatic don't you think?' At this point I was pissed... Seriously??? What happened to acceptance and decency. I didn't know how to respond and so I made some flippant comment about how I have MS, and I wish I didn't have it so that I wouldn't have dramatic conclusions to runs.

Since then I have been gun shy. It took everything in me to sign up for the 4 miler, knowing I would be doing the race alone... At my run club, which I typically love, I find myself feeling apologetic about my being there. And I sometimes feel as though my presence is bothersome to other people. Is this perceived? I truly hope so...

I honestly would rather this be my issue, but the only way I can figure that out is by continuing to show up and show people that I too belong. By doing that, I think I will begin to believe it again.

I just ask one thing folks... If you see me stumbling after a run, feel free to treat me like you would any other runner, but please do NOT call an ambulance...