Last weekend someone called me an extreme athlete.
I looked to the left of me. I looked to the right. I even did the Hokey Pokey and turned myself around. There was no one else there.
Extreme athlete?? Who me?? I never really thought of myself that way before.
I do eat, sleep, and breathe running.
Even the name of my blog has the word running in it.
Last night I had dreams of running and biking. I dreamed that I didn’t stretch, that I forgot to put on my running shoes, and my legs felt like lead. Then I got to my bike. It was a tiny little one with training wheels.
I also have dreams of racing. Usually in those dreams something goes wrong. Not unlike the unexpected things during race day.
I rolled my ankle three weeks before my first marathon. Despite that, I ended up running the first 18 miles in 3 hours. I had big dreams until I hurt my knee. It took many months for the pain to go away. I said I would never do another marathon again, then went back on my word.
Kind of like the time I said I would never have another child during childbirth.
Every single time I tried something new, I was terrified. I was afraid the first time that I ever ran. I thought I was going to die I was so out of breath. I was afraid during my first 10k, my first half marathon, my first marathon, and my first sprint triathlon. Now I am utterly terrified after signing up for my first half Iron and a very grueling racing season.
But I still did it.
Training for my first marathon was really tough. It was at this time that I realized that I suffered from GERD. The harder I trained, the less I wanted to eat because my stomach was so upset. I had to learn to run with stomach pain. I had to learn the very fine line between eating too much and not eating enough to prevent pain.
At times I thought I was going to be the runner puking on the side of the road. I worry about that while I am at the gym.
I get up on the only day I am able to sleep in to spend the morning at the gym.
(I did a long run this past Saturday and there was a woman next to me on her phone. With all of my heavy breathing I had to laugh because I wondered if the person on the other end thought she was on a porno set.) The things I think of to make running more exciting.
I have learned to run through exhaustion and boredom.
I pretend to race other people at the gym.
I choose what high risk behaviors to engage in. I WILL not do anything risky before a race that could produce an injury, such as down hill skiing. But I WILL do things for a race that others consider crazy.
I will train in the cold, in the rain, in the wind, and when there is a heat advisory.
I have misjudged how fast a storm would arrive and needed to find shelter.
I have been chased by dogs.
I have tripped over a dog and cut up my knee and hands. I had to run home with blood running down my legs and cleaned my wounds with rubbing alcohol to get out the gravel.
I ran with a really high fever. It was one of the toughest 6 miles I ever ran.
I ran through colds.
I ran when I felt zero motivation to do so.
I came very close to being hit by cars on bike and on foot.
I have a very hard time not running.
If this makes me an extreme athlete, so be it.
Why don’t you sign me up for the next race?