Saturday, January 26, 2013

Just Fine

(Running around the Arch Loop in Gardiner, MT where I first started running)
            I haven’t written for awhile because I haven’t really had any ideas what to write about so let’s just see what unfolds.
            For an update on my MCL injury that occurred last October I am back to building up my miles, no workouts or racing, just running and I am completely pain free. I saw my PT at the Sports ReactionCenter a couple weeks ago and he tested my knee to see how well it was healed. He gave me a high five and said it looked great! This was very good to hear. My patience and dedication to my rehab paid off and I now have a healthy and strong knee once again. It didn’t even take “that” long.
            When I did start running I built up very slowly, slowly increasing my miles while continuing to cross train. The first week I got about two miles of running…then 4…6…9…45…today I ran 10 miles with a friend which is the longest run since my accident. I have built my “long” run from 6 to 7, to 8, to 9 and now 10 and it felt great!
            It was on this run today that my friend asked me what my racing plans were and if I am o.k. sitting out a season. The indoor track season is now in full swing and I have been watching the University of Washington meets, cheering on my friends and watching people fly! Yes, there is a part of me that wants to throw on my spikes and jump into a race and start competing again because I love it.
            But I love it for a different reason than some might think and this is why I am fine missing a race or even a season or two as I already missed the cross country season. I do not run to see my name at the top of a list. I do not do it for praise. Not for attention, nor glory or fame, contracts or money.
            I run because I truly enjoy the feeling of pushing myself and testing my limits. I love the process of setting goals and striving to achieve them. I could do this day in and day out without anyone knowing or watching. I do not need a crowd to let me know that what I am doing has meaning. I am not looking for approval.
            Perhaps this comes from my growing up in a small town where aside from my siblings I was the only “runner.” We didn’t even have a cross country team. I trained alone. I wasn’t the fastest runner in high school. I never went to Footlocker Nationals. I attended college on mostly an academic scholarship, not an athletic one. I never made it to the NCAA Championships. But this never stopped me from continuing to work hard, knowing I had done my best. You see if I had put my self-worth or valued my running by how others saw me, by how many championships I won, or how I ranked in the Nation, or my athletic “fame,” or how much praise I received I would have quit a long time ago. These things are very subjective and dependent on other people. There is only one person you can control, only one person who at the end of the day knows your heart and that person is you.
            Competing in sports is not a privilege or a right. It can be taken away from you. If your entire identity is wrapped up in this one piece, what happens the day when you are no longer the best? Who will you be then?
            I realize that I have had success in my running. I have made it to the USATF National Championships four times and this past June the Olympic Trials. I have won several races and seen my name listed at the top. But this is not why I do it. I still view myself as the little girl from Gardiner, MT running laps around the Arch Loop for no reason except the challenge, the joy in pushing my body to new limits.
            With all the drug scandal in sports today it is nice to be able to take a step back and reflect on what it truly is about. Why are we doing it? I may never understand how athletes can choose to cheat. My mind could never grasp the concept as to how I could turn my back on a sport I love so much by cheating, after it has already given me so much. But maybe this is because I compete for different reasons, not medals, money or fame.
            So I may be unsure of what my future holds but I know this: I will always strive to do the best that I can in my passions but not for worldly reasons. I may not always have a number on the front of my jersey, or run fast times, or win races but I will still love what I am doing just the same. Nothing can change that.
            So my answer to my friend is, “Yes. Yes I know I will be just fine.”
(The joy of running)