You Could Have FUELED Me!

By: Janine Serio

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Life is a journey; one that is neither linear or predictable. If you had asked me 4 years ago that I would be getting my feet wet (again) in the “marathon pool,” I probably would have laughed. You see, in October 2012, I crossed the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon – tired, defeated, and physically, emotionally, & mentally drained. I had completed 3 full marathons, with some half marathons intermixed, over the span of 2 years. Between juggling my work schedule, training, and instructing numerous group fitness classes, my body starting pushing back. Needless to say, I was over-trained, puffy, bloated, and just plain exhausted. 

I can recall the last 1-2 miles of the Marine Corp Marathon and feeling like I could not breathe. Heart racing, body aching, breathing labored; WHAT WAS I DOING?! So many people had told me how much I would enjoy this race….it’s flat, it’s scenic, and the crowds are fun! For me, I found the race to be anything but pleasant. Don’t get me wrong, yes, the course was (for the most part) flat, the D.C. landscape was beautiful (did I mention we were running on the “heels” of Superstorm Sandy), and the crowds were rockin’. Unfortunately, I could not get out of my own way.

The running shoes were, definitely, going into retirement – not only for my health but my sanity too. Would I dabble back in the racing community again? Hmm, ask me that in a few years. Would I ever run a marathon, or long distance event, again? I am abstaining from answering that question.

So, fast forward to 4 years later…I sit here, less than 24 hours away from the starting line of the Rock ‘N’ Roll D.C. Half Marathon. While I have not given it much thought, it is quite poignant that I chose to enter my first race, in 4 years, in the very city where I collapsed – literally – over the finish line.

Maybe I need a do over…experience everything that I “missed” the last go around. 

Maybe I want my tears post race to be because I feel strong, powerful, and accomplished, not because I feel weak, powerless, and broken.

Over this past week, I have reflected a lot about where I have been and where I am going. While 2012 seems like it was yesterday, a lot has happened since…happy times, awesome accomplishments, and wonderful experiences, mixed with heartbreak, sadness, and struggles.

You may be reading this and asking yourself the very same question I have been pondering – “And, why are you doing this again?”

Great question…why am I doing this again?

Honestly, I am not quite sure myself. There are some days where my training has felt effortless, and other days where I have wanted to throw in the towel and say F&%$ it! Not my style to give up but I need to focus on listening to my body and giving it what it needs – nurturing, comfort, and less rigidity & structure. While I, certainly, do not want to go back to that “place” of where I was 4 years ago, I continue to find myself in this constant state of tug of war; yearning to not be so tightly wound yet still wanting a sense of structure and control. It is a continued growth process.

Maybe I expected to feel differently after these 10 weeks of training.

Maybe I put too much pressure on myself to take on this challenge with where I am in my life (I must keep running, I must do the workouts to a “T,” I must be stronger than what my body is telling me).

Maybe, when I cross the finish line tomorrow, I will have a better understanding of why I am embarking on this journey again. Is my plan to still run the Eugene Marathon in May – yes. Will I be kind enough to myself, and my body, to defer to the Half Marathon if I feel that is the smartest thing to do – this is the struggle. 

To be continued…

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