A Strange Place To Be

Anyone who has trained for a marathon knows that it isn’t easy. The pursuit is a journey that transforms you into a different person — physically, mentally and emotionally.

There are days that leave you energized and optimistic. Others can be demoralizing and depleting. If we’re lucky, we find beauty and meaning along the way — even if those gifts aren’t readily apparent.

In the weeks since the New York City Marathon, my plan was to take some time away to recharge mentally, overcome a nagging injury and renew my passion for the sport. Downtime, though, doesn’t come easily, and without a price.

The injury — a strained abdominal muscle — has been slow to heal.

Since late June, nearly every foot strike brought a reminder of the problem. Mentally, it was draining, and doubt crept into my mind. I signed up for 2 marathons that I never ran. It was easy to justify ditching races in Utah and Michigan because of the unfavorable weather conditions.

But I still wondered if I was simply avoiding the pain of racing another all-out marathon effort.

Completing races in Grand Forks, the Twin Cities and Fargo forced me to reevaluate my goals and expectations.

One of the reasons the New York race proved to be so satisfying is the singular focus it took to stay on pace. That challenge presents itself in any marathon, but even more so when there’s something wrong.

Looking back, I don’t recall running a race with like this — in the moment, the pain forced me to disassociate but also “run outside myself,” as though I was a spectator to my own race.  That’s a strange place to be.

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