Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Search for that Elusive Marathon Glory

I am gonna cross that line this year!
In my Dreaded Resolution for 2012 I revealed my desire to strive for Half Marathon and Full Marathon status this year. And this year I am totally going to do it! DAG-NIBIT! I am going all out for 2012 and I am checking these two bad boys off my bucket list. I can do this! I will do this! I must do this!

I want to do this SO badly that I have pushed up my initial time to accommodate my surgery, and I am running my half in 8 weeks. 8 weeks people. Oh yeah, and I am doing it all the day before my double mastectomy! Can you tell I really want this?

So "why the obsession?" you might ask. Because if I was reading this craziness I would be wondering the same thing. And the truth is, running a half marathon has been a goal of mine for the last few years. And it is that one (*slightly evil*) and elusive item I place on my to-do list every single year, but have never had the satisfaction of scratching off. ARGH! I have made 3 serious attempts at half marathon glory over the past 5 years, but still this goal has remained just out of reach. Thus, adding fuel to my fire for 2012. (re: Krysten is type A crazy pants)

Glory Attempt #1:

My very first attempt at half marathon glory takes me all the way back to 2007. I had decided to sign up for Toronto's Goodlife Half Marathon  in March as a motivation tactic. My exercise routine had gotten stale. I was just finishing my final month of university. I was moving to the big city of Toronto with my then boyfriend and now husband -  Jamie (*insert happy sigh*). And I was leaving my small town roots behind. I was looking for a new challenge. And I was secretly hoping that signing up for a half marathon would help me recommit to my workouts and score chiseled abs just in time for bikini season.

Cousin Love!
Everything was hunky-dory for the month of March. I was hitting the gym, paying better attention to my diet, and generally feeling good. I was on track and excited! I had even convinced my cousin Amber to run it with me. Everything was going swimmingly until I went to my final cardio appointment before my case got transferred to my new Toronto-based cardiologists.

It was the day before the start of my final exam period and it was a check-up like any other. I typically visit the pacemaker clinic every 3-6 month, so this was no big deal. We chit-chatted, we said good-bye, and I set out on my merry way. Expect just as I finished walking across the street my defibrillator started firing ( I told you guys I had another one of these stories). It fired over and over again. I was thrown to the ground with the first blow panicked and unable to coherently express what was happening .

I thank my lucky stars that Jamie was with me and that he has a cool head in a crisis. Because he immediately hung up on my Mom (whom I was talking to at the time) and called 911. My defibrillator fired 9 times before the paramedics arrived and once more in the ER, rounding off the day at an even 10. I thought I was going to die. It was insanely painful and I thought I had just been given a clean bill of health 5 minutes earlier. It turns out that this horrible ordeal was just the result of human error...yep...Either the Cardiologist or the Tech had inadvertently changed the settings on my pacemaker to fire at 120 bpm instead of my usual 215 bpm. And 120 bpm is pretty standard in Krysten's world. I can hit that with a brisk walk or with a high level of anxiety.

This was an extremely traumatizing experience, and one that took me a long time to get over. I hated not being in control. I was constantly afraid my device would misfire. I hated the idea that there was something inside me that had this sort of power over both my body and my mind. Follow-up appointments were a nightmare. And I was a bundle of nerves for the entire year that followed. I suffered from insomnia, nightmares, and regular panic attacks. Following the events of that day I was terrified of even so much as the thought of exercise - especially running. So on that fateful day my dreams of striving for half marathon glory faded away.

Glory Attempt #2:

So as you all must know by now, I have clearly returned to my love of running. It took more than a year to move past that day. And I started by rekindling my love of exercise with hot yoga. 14 months later I set out on my first very tentative run and I have been running ever since. It took even longer for me to start fantasizing about half marathons again, but on New Years 2009 I resolved to take another crack at it.

This was a half hearted attempt at best. I was working 2 part-time contracts that year and was averaging 60 hour work weeks. I had also started pursuing my psychology degree at night, and had very little time to devote to much else. So while I kept promising myself I would start training when life calmed down a bit...that time never came...and the full year came and went without any serious effort made towards pursuing this goal.

Glory Attempt #3:

Swollen Angry Ankle
Is as recent as this past summer. If you have been reading along you know that I came up with the grand plan in April to stand up against my Darwinian Failures and battle my genetic shortcomings with diet and exercise. And part of this stellar plan was to run 3 races each for the people in my life affected my cancer. I completed Race #1 for Grandad and Race #2 for Mom (and myself by proxy)...But Race #3 my half marathon for blood cancer and Papa Bishop, who lost his battle to cancer this year was thwarted by over training.

I developed a stress fracture but kept running anyways. It was painful, but I thought it was all part of training. It was bothering me, but I didn't want to be a suck. Until it got so bad I could no longer bare weight and was hobbling around the office. I eventually decided it was time to get it checked out only to be told that because I was stubborn I had a stress fracture and a badly sprained ankle from overcompensating. Which all amounted to no running for 4-6 weeks (aka just enough time to completely ruin my half marathon training). And thus, another race season past me by with no shiny finisher medal to call my own.

So "why rehash all these failed attempts right before I set out on yet another journey towards elusive marathon glory" you might be wondering? Because there are important lessons to take away from each experience...
  • The negative voices in your head can be your worst enemy.
  • You are stronger than a series of unfortunate circumstances
  • You need to make time for yourself and training a priority
  • Listen to your body
  • Train for health, train for strength, but don't over train
I plan to take all these lessons into 2012 and finally achieve marathon glory! 2012 is going to be my year of TRIUMPH! Let's do this! Oh and genetics...kindly F**K OFF!

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,