Marathon: T- minus 35 days. Today’s scheduled run: 22 miles.
Mile 1: Hey, I feel pretty good! The weather is nice. Gonna be a good run!
Mile 2: Yep. Still feeling good. Whoa! I gotta slow down…not gonna last at this pace. This is a long run!
Mile 3: Maybe I can even ditch the gloves. Knee still feels fine. Winning.
Mile 4: Hmm…just a little touch of pain in the knee. Not bad. Just stiff. I’m sure it’ll feel totally fine in a few more miles.
Mile 5, 6, 7: Little sore. Just keep plugging along, Jen.
Mile 8: I’m hungry.
Mile 9: So…Jen…your knee is pretty much steadily hurting now. Are you going to stop? Uh…no!!! Dang it! Keep pushing. Suck it up.
Mile 9.2: Hello, Jen? Seriously. One of two things is going to happen. A) A straight up miracle. B) Your knee will collapse and your marathon training is over.
Mile 9.5: Dear voice in my head: Shut up. I am going to finish what I started.
Mile 10, 11: Yeah. That hurts. A lot. Strange…my leg just went numb from the knee down. Huh. Weird. Oh, look! Mile 11 has all these pretty homes by the adorable pond! So nice! And I totally love this song…sing it Justin Timberlake!
Mile 12: Knee. Collapse. Limping. Pain. Numbness. Tears. Call Scott, accept defeat. Have him come pick me up.
Angry and sad and embarrassed, I climbed in the car and then hobbled into the house. By ignorance or denial, I refused to accept that my plan was foolish, that my persistence was not courageous but arrogant and dangerous. I missed (or ignored) the cues. I should have stopped at Mile 9. Or probably Mile 5. Now I am laying on the couch with an ice pack and pleading desperately with the running gods to not let my entire marathon plan be sabotaged by my stubbornness. With only four weeks until race day…I am not hopeful.
I wonder how many other places in my life I have missed (or ignored) the cues and pushed too far. Maybe if I had been more aware of the cues in my career, I would have paused and reflected a little sooner. The disengagement and the fatigue, the anxiety and the gradual lack of fulfillment. I kept thinking, just keep working and take more call and do more research and take the next promotion. Just keep joining committees and going to more conferences. The excitement will come back. Maybe if I’d pushed less and reflected more, the burnout would have been more like embers and less like flames. Or maybe there wouldn’t have been burnout at all.
Maybe if I had noticed the cues in my marriage that we hadn’t had a date night in forever, that much of our communication was strictly logistics for the kids, that we kept spending more time alone than together. Then maybe I wouldn’t have looked up one day and said, “Wow, babe! We just aren’t where we used to be. We aren’t where we are supposed to be.”
Maybe if I had taken some time to notice the cues and listen to them, I would have paused. I would have rested earlier. A little less continuing at ludicrous speed where one of two things would happen: A) A miracle. B) A collapse. But I didn’t slow down. And my life buckled a little. And parts of it collapsed. Angry and sad and embarrassed, I had to call for help for me and my life. I had to rest and ice it down. Nurture the injured: myself, and those around me. I turned to my friends, my husband, my faith. God says: Rest. Please! It’s not weak. It’s wise. Matthew 11:28 (AMP) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]” God, in all of his mystery and grace, not only healed me through B), but gave me A), too. A completely fresh perspective; a peace beyond which I could never explain; a renewal in my marriage; a whole new world of experiences for my career and my life. A deeper, more meaningful faith.
I don’t know why we praise pushing harder and never resting. I don’t know why we see slowing down as some sort of failure. I’m not sure why we don’t celebrate self-preservation. Instead, we push to the point of injury: mental, emotional, spiritual, physical injury. And only then do we give ourselves permission to be sidelined. I think we are doing it all wrong…
So here I am, physically injured and it’s time for me to rest. Thankfully, my soul has done much healing recently and is back in the game. And I trust my knee won’t be too far behind.Disclaimer: My viewpoints are not necessarily reflective of my employer, or any local, regional or national organization that I belong to. As a matter of fact, I pretty much just speak for myself. Please keep that in mind.