Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Invisible Medals

I was reading the latest Runner's World magazine and enjoying one of my favourite columns. It's called The Newbie Chronicles and it's written by a guy named Marc Parent.

I like The Newbie Chronicles because:
- he tells stories about his learning how to run adventures and makes me feel like I'm not the only one to do crazy things
- he comes across as a big tough guy but there is usually an undercurrent of emotion that makes me think he's a big tough guy with an even bigger heart
- his first name is spelled the French way
- his last name is downright awesome

His latest article is about the emotional stories behind some of our runs. And the fact that no one knows these stories except the runner who is running them.

He talks about the medals that we have hanging somewhere in our homes that symbolize the races we finished and then he talks about all of the other medals, the invisible ones, that hang beside the ones everyone can see.

Like the medal of the first half marathon we ran that wasn't a race. It was just a long run that happened to be over 21.1k (13 miles) in distance. I remember my first unofficial half marathon. I was in the throes of marathon training. I had run 20k the week before. This time I was running 22k. And 900m from the end of my run, I lifted my arms in the air and grinned.

I had just run a half marathon. And no one knew or cared but me. No cheers. No name announced on the loudspeaker. No medal.

I also remember the first few long runs after an injury. Where my emotions looked a lot like a bad diabetes day on my Dexcom. The ups of excitement at the fact the I was running, the downs as I struggled and faced the knowledge that I did indeed lose some running fitness during the two months off. The ups as I remembered how good it felt to run again. The emotions that bubbled to the surface as I was flooded with memories of race finishes and tough runs. The downs as I wondered if I had the strength to build up the distance again and then the ups as the perfect song comes on my iPod and reminded me that I most certainly did have it in me.

Those runs that were not so much about the run as about using the run to work through some of life's tougher moments. The runs where we are grateful for our cool-looking sunglasses because they hide the tears. And the runs where we slow our pace a bit so that we can breathe through the bouts of crying. The runs where we feel so much better for having done it and we feel ready to face whatever life throws at us.

Those runs where we try something new. Something scary. Something we know will be really hard. Like the first time we tried a hill workout. Or a speed workout. And we worried so much that we almost didn't show up to the running group that night. But we did. And we did it. And we realized that running will never get easier. But we will get stronger. And that is a powerful realization that spills over into other parts of our lives.

Runs where diabetes throws everything it has at us in an effort to mess up the long run we need to do. And it does indeed screw it up. And we come home battered and beaten, dehydrated and exhausted, 30 minutes later than we should have because of all the walking we had to do. But we did it. And from that run came the knowledge that, if we can get through that, we can get through any tough run. In a twisted, messed up kinda way, we thank diabetes for teaching us how to fight back.

I have a whole pile of medals hanging on a hook in our stairwell. The visible ones make a pretty impressive sight. But, as The Newbie reminded me, it's the invisible ones that really tell the story.

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love this Celine! I think I need to look back at my on-again, off-again running career. I have a feeling I may have been more successful than I give myself credit for. This is certainly motivating as I am contemplating taking the plunge and actually signing up for something. Then I will HAVE to get back into some regular training. Thank you. I am going to share this link on a running blog that I follow. (Runs for Cookies)