—> Edited to add: well, Alex and I didn’t reach our destination. So all the burglars hoping to rob us, you’re SOL. But if nothing else, today’s post is even more relevant, as Caitlin talks about dealing with making tough decisions and DNS. Basically, we had a vacation DNS.
ERMIGERD I am so excited to present my first guest post from none other than one of my very bestest blends, Caitlin of Chasing Chels. Caitlin is someone cut from the same cloth as I (which may or may not be a good thing for her, but I am definitely cool with), and when she took a hiatus from blogging this fall to regroup, I freaked out. Now she’s back at it (YAY), and my world can return to normalcy. Because it is all about me, as we know.
I like to dedicate Tuesdays to subjects that, while they may not be the most pleasant, in fact lead us to find the sunshine and happiness hiding behind the clouds. And this girl is a one after my own heart in trying to find the positive when life is pelting you with lemons. So, without further ado, my darling Caitlin:
When Stopping Is A New Beginning
Hey kids! My name is Caitlin, and I usually write over at Chasing Chels, where I share lots of fun stuff about my life, running, recipes that my man creates (I don’t cook unless it’s breakfast or comes from an Annie’s box), and whatever else comes to mind. I was incredibly honored when Susie invited me to take over her space for a day while she is gallivanting in Mexico, despite the fact that the rest of us are freezing our rear ends off (at least where I live in Pittsburgh). Super jealous, lady love, but also hope that you’re having an awesome time in the warmth and sunshine J
I have never been a person who gives up on anything. When I struggled in math, chemistry, or physics, I stayed up way past my bedtime with my dad (engineer…win) until I had mastered whatever eluded me. When my skating coaches mentioned that I needed some extra help with flexibility, I asked my parents to sign me up for ballet (which I hated…but stuck out until the end). When I needed to make new friends in high school and college, I joined different activities and clubs and did whatever was asked (whether I wanted to or not). When I met Joe, and he made me run with him on the weekends when he was home on leave from the army, I didn’t whine or let him know I was dying (I hated to run at that time); I sucked it up and finished, breathing heavily but with an adorable, go-getter smile on my face. For better or worse, quitting or not doing something that was asked has just never been in my make up…till now.
My usual motto
In the beginning of October 2013, I signed up for two marathons set for the spring of 2014: Shamrock in VA Beach in March and Pittsburgh in May. This may seem slightly crazy for anyone but definitely raised some eyebrows from my family and a few friends here because of my first marathon experience in Erie in September. During the last month and a half of training, I developed plantar fasciitis in my left heel but failed to go to the doctor or physical therapy to do anything about it because I was afraid they would tell me I couldn’t run. This was one of the stupidest things I could have done, and I knew at the time that it wasn’t smart, but I had also thrown my heart and an incredible amount of time into training throughout the summer, and I wasn’t about to let it go to waste. Race day came on September 15, and it was a disaster. My heel started bothering me by mile 5, really hurt at mile 13.1, and completely gave out by mile 19. I slowly limped the last six miles to finish in 5:31, proud that I had pushed myself on to cross that line, but unable to walk well for the next few days. I spent the next six weeks in PT but continued to run short distances (which had been approved by my PTs) and completed another five races (10ks and a 10 miler) in the meantime. The Pittsburgh full had been on my to do list after crossing the finish line of the half in 2013, and a bunch of my run club friends invited me to participate in Shamrock with them, which sounded great at the time….a race with good friends AND a weekend away over St. Patrick’s Day? Sign me up…which is exactly what I did without a second thought. By the end of the first week in October, I was looking at two marathons within six weeks of each other after a fall race season that hadn’t gone as planned or given me the break and rest my body really needed. Not my best idea I’ll wager…but at the time, I believed I would bounce back quickly and also viewed Shamrock as redemption for Erie. I wasn’t (and am still not) ashamed of my finish time there, but it wasn’t the expected and trained for sub-4:00 either, which I know I am fully capable of running. Shamrock would be where that happened, I said, and I looked forward to jumping back into full training at the end of November.
13.1 miles down, 13.1 miles to go
It should come as no surprise to anyone (myself included) that jumping back into marathon training did not go well. An old knee injury resurfaced three weeks into training, and my heel started aching again two and a half weeks later. I knew I couldn’t ignore my body any longer; after a lot of thinking and talking to the rocks in my life, I decided to defer Shamrock until 2015 and take January off from running. I love to run (if you don’t believe me, check out my blog…it’s full of posts where I express my thoughts and feelings on the subject in great detail), so that made it hard enough, but feeling like a quitter? That almost convinced me to keep pushing until I was literally forced to stop…but for once, I didn’t listen to that voice, and I know I made the best decision possible. It isn’t one that everyone agreed with, and I had more than one person tell me to wait it out a few more weeks before giving up, but I knew (and know) that I have to do what’s best for me and that’s what this decision reflects. I didn’t make it easily, and I miss running more than I can say (I might have thrown a minor tantrum when I got home from the gym yesterday because I couldn’t go to my run club’s kick-off celebration for the start of Pittsburgh marathon training….and yes, I really am 25), but I know I made the right decision.
Sometimes, “giving up” and letting go of a dream or goal demonstrates more courage and intelligence than pushing through and trying to finish something despite what the warning signs say; I don’t advocate stopping something when things get tough necessarily, but I also believe that there comes a point where you need to reevaluate what you’re doing, why, and the toll it’s taking on you and the important people in your life. It’s hard as hell and can be incredibly disappointing, but in the end, nothing is more important than doing what’s best for you and your health. I look at some of my friends in run club, who are able to run 5-6 marathons each year, and admire their physical and mental abilities; I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that wished I could do that, too, or that I could even handle the three that I had set out to do with one of my best friend’s this year…but it’s not in the cards right now, and that’s more than ok. Life changes, unexpected things come up, and sometimes the only thing you can do is say no, I can’t do that anymore. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, and I would be willing to wager that I’m not alone in that, but it’s something that has to be done every now and then and practice makes it slightly easier. Choosing not to do something that you had originally planned doesn’t make you or me in this case a failure, which has been a huge fear of mine from a very young age (but that’s also a story for another day); it means that you’re wise enough and brave enough to recognize when it isn’t the right time, and it’s far more important to focus on healing and whatever else that entails. Disappointment will disappear in time, and I will do my best to safely run another marathon before the year is out, but poor health can last for years, if not a lifetime, and nothing is worth that. It isn’t the right time for me to run another marathon…but it is the right time for plenty of other things, and I choose to focus on that and what I can do, rather than what I cannot. Saying no and backing out isn’t the end…it’s the beginning of something else, and that is very encouraging, is it not?
Have a wonderful day.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to back out of something you originally agreed to? How did you handle it?
This post is all about Caitlin, but it really is a treat for me to have her up in my grill. So, in order to share her wisdom with the most people, I am also linking up to Becky’s Treat Yourself Tuesday Link up!