Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Finding Me - Tales of Athena

sometimes things just get a little overwhelming.  sometimes, no matter what the cost, it's good to take a step back.  numerous times I have paid well for my mistakes.  this time it only cost me $175 and "losing" this money was truly worth it.

this past Monday was the boston marathon and I was supposed to be there.  but for some time now it just couldn't get excited about it.  Wow.   The premier event, that for so many of my early running years seemed an unattainable goal, and I couldn't get excited about it?  nope, it wasn't happening.  now some may wonder "how could you give up BOSTON"?  this was not an easy decision.  just getting in to boston is special, I know that.  but I also did not want to go just to go.  if I was to run it I wanted it to be just as special as it was the previous five times I have run it and I just didn't feel like that was going to happen this year.  maybe it was the long cold winter that just depleted my energy; I'm not sure.  I do know that there are some who still probably cannot understand why I didn't want to go to boston but not going was something I had to do for me.  and honestly, staying home, unplugging from social media, and just taking time to focus on what does make me happy was exactly what I needed.  I already had five days off from work so why not take this opportunity to relax and rediscover my running happy place.  it was time for a little retreat.

DAY 1.  I uninstalled facebook from my phone.  this was supposed to be my time to find my happy place and I did not want any distractions.  joe and I finally got to do one of our favorite runs up through the woods above our house, out to the "shit can", a rusted-out metal garbage can that just sits out in the woods.  it has been there for many more years than we have and of all the things that have come and gone in the woods, the shit can has remained.  this was our first opportunity to run this route this year since the snow had finally melted in the woods; I think this is the latest into the spring it has taken for this to happen since we have lived here.  the highlight of the day:  our first red newt sighting of the year.  and then another.  and another.  the forest road was absolutely littered with newts and it became a real challenge to try not to step on them.  we finally got out to the shit can only to find ... no shit can.  the only thing that remained was a rusty ring that was the rim of the can.  wow ... how disappointing.  now what will we call this run?

we got back to the house and I added on a little 0.6 miles because I just wasn't ready to go in.  what a peaceful run in the trees under a clear blue sky and not one single car (or person) was seen.  after a nice little rest and time of doing absolutely nothing we headed out to meet my sister and her husband for a little trail time.  we parked one car at where we would finish and drove another to upper treman state park and ran the finger lakes trail.

DAY 2.  the thought was still there ... "wow, I could still change my mind and go to boston".  and that would mean stopping to clean the house (because I can't stand to come home to a dirty house), packing, and missing a day of running on a beautiful spring day.  the thought passed and I hit the forest roads for a nice 11 mile run by myself.  again, so peaceful and only me and the birds in the trees.  and the squirrels that scared the crap out of me every time one shot out from a pile of leaves and ran in front of me.  and I had my first live snake sighting of the year.

DAY 3.  sunny, clear, and cool.  yes, as I headed out for my run I thought "I could still make it to boston if I left now".  and then I started running.  and I thought about how easy this felt and there was no anxiety and the thought of boston once again passed.  I had a beautiful cool 5+ mile run by myself through the woods where joe would meet me at the other side.  we met up and headed out to Hammond hill and ran the Thom B. trail run course.  I thought about how for so many years I could not run this course without the race markings and now how I just know my way instinctively through the trails.  and it was awesome.  and for having run this course so many times ... for the first ever time we missed a turn right before the finish.  and even this worked out in our favor ... the trail brought us right out to where we parked our car and just in time to see a good friend as he was getting ready to head out on the trails.  we talked with him for a bit and then stopped to visit some other friends and had a nice chat with them on their porch in the sun and breeze.  and then it was a stop a Hopshire Farms Brewery for some time of just standing around and chatting with the owners and drinking good beer.  and it was at this time that I realized that there was truly not a chance I would make it to boston now.  it was real.  I would not be there.  I was going to miss out.  and I felt OK with it.

DAY 4.  marathon Monday.  I woke up to wicked winds and pouring rain.  and I was so happy that I did not have to run today.  the tv satellite network had graciously turned on Universal Sports for free this week and we would be able to watch the marathon as it was happening.  I got in a quick 5K row on the Concept II, showered, and relaxed by the warm coal stove with a hot cup of coffee as we watched the pre-game show.  we had our own little boston marathon party with me and joe and another friend.  it was great; it was like the superbowl party of running as we discussed weather, running tactics, who was dying and who was making a move.  it was actually very cool and very fun.  and joe and I had fun describing the unfolding events to our friend who had never been to the marathon.  "This is Wellesley ... you can hear the screams for a mile before you even get here".  "This is Heartbreak Hill ... it's not really much of a hill".  "There's the Citgo sign; you see it from way out and it takes forever to get to it".  "OK, he just turned down Hereford ... next is the left onto Boyleston and you can see the finish but it's so far away".  ok, so I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit sad not being there but it was so cool and fun to have this time with someone who has never experienced it.

DAY 5.  it's over.  the marathon is over and I didn't run it.  and I'm ok with that.  another run in the morning and another run in the afternoon completed my last day of vacation.  I felt relaxed and excited for my 50 miler that is coming up in less than 2 weeks.

so that was my boston marathon weekend.  and maybe you are wondering about the title of this post.  on one of my alone runs I did a lot of scattered thinking.  thoughts just flowed through my mind with no logical sequence.  and that's when I got to thinking about Athena.  well, Athena is the nice way of naming the larger women's category that some running races still recognize.  while some women may find this insulting, I am so happy that there are still races out there that recognize this category.  seriously ... how can I compete with those skinny young (and even not-so-young) ladies?  I am proud to be Athena.  and I am happy to be able to run and I am happy to be happy with my running again.