I’ve been playing hooky. Obviously. In October, I ran the Portland Marathon and blogged about it. In November, I uploaded a post about my best friend because it was about damn time--I’d been working on that sucker for months. Then, I took a break. I usually cool my heels a bit after a marathon. I like taking 2-4 weeks to chill out, occasionally work out half-heartedly, and bask in my accomplishment by backsliding like a walrus on a slippery shoreline. This time around 2-4 weeks became 2-4 months--and counting.
I’m calling it a hiatus. The word means a break, gap, or space. In anatomy, it refers to a natural empty space in bone where new cells grow. So I’m not so much ditching long distance running as I am reclaiming the space and time it took up to see what grows there. I’ve needed the mental energy for other endeavors and challenges. My husband’s work life is good in a lot of ways, but oh so demanding in others. I’ve reintroduced careful budgeting into my life, like I haven’t done since our first years as poor college kids in love. And I’ve been taming the beast called worry. Thankfully, since I’m not out the door for a run an hour or two before dawn, I’ve been able to stay up later at night, for conversations and chillin’ with my spouse--also for full-blown binges on dumb TV and junk food. Hey, it’s all therapy to me.
I manage a bit of exercise here and there. I’ve jogged a few times. I’ve enjoyed dropping my youngest off in the play area at the gym and reacquainting myself with the elliptical machine, the stationary bike, and various sundry equipment with shelves for books. I even let Jillian Michaels (of The Biggest Loser fame--yes, I watch) shred me for 15 of her 30-day plan. You should see my traveling push-up; it’s a beaut! With the coming of the New Year, I optimistically signed up for a half marathon, because the thing I needed to warm my heels up again after luxurious weeks of cooling was a plan, a schedule, a commitment!
And still, I’m not running. Not really running: multiple days a week with an increasingly long run on weekends and checks in my training log. I don’t think the half marathon in 4 weeks is gonna happen. Ce la vie!
So what is the matter with me?
Thankfully, nothing. No nagging injury or implosion of the will. (Maybe a small collapse of one corner of my will, but the structure is mostly standing.) I’m simply permitting myself a season. I’m gathering stones instead of throwing them (or maybe I’m the stone and I’m gathering moss). I’m not searching for a race; I’m giving one up as lost. For everything there is a season, and this particular season is cold, and the mornings are dark, and the sidewalks are treacherous with frozen slush and black ice. And 5 a.m. comes earlier than it did last season, I swear.
And there is one reason more. When I make running habitual in my life, it ripens into a ritual--a sacred season of reflection. The quiet, steady thrumming of heart and footfall opens my mind to myself. I imagine, analyze, wonder, and decide. My spirit heaves with my lungs. It is good, and it is my own. But right now, I need to save reflection, analysis, and decision for my family. We are taking on a challenge that requires mental energy and a lot of partnership. During this particular season, instead of waking up early to work my body and soul, I’m staying up late to chat with my husband. We imagine, analyze, wonder, and decide together. “Me-time” is sliding a little lower on the list, for now.
Some runners would say, “But this is exactly when you most need to keep running!” Yep. So true. I need to get my sweat on for my sake and for the sake of those around me. God knows (He really does) how dark my innards are and how much they bleed onto those around me, in dirty looks and exasperated sighs and impatient resentments. Adding endorphins to the mix makes a positive difference. But the scope of my physical triumph is remaining narrow for a season. Instead of 10 miles, a 30-minute video suits me fine. Instead of pre-dawn epic expeditions, a speed date with a treadmill at 9 a.m. will do.
I don't know how long this season lasts, so you'll have to keep reading to find out with me; and I’ll have to start writing. Therefore, I’m making it official. My hiatus from thefatmarathoner.blogspot.com has come to an end. Cheers!