Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…


Last week, I was stressed.

Stressed about finishing the dissertation on time, and wrapping up teaching for the semester, and the holidays, and my ten-year high school reunion.  But most of all, stressed about running.
When I crossed the finish line at the Philly Marathon, my first thought was, “whew!  Time for a break!”  I had been training and racing for eleven months straight (and when I wasn’t training regularly while we were backpacking through Germany for three weeks, I was feeling guilty about not training regularly).  I was ready for a little bit of down time.  
There was only one problem.
A little matter of a 50-mile Ultra.
The Bel Monte Endurance Challenge isn’t until March, but according to the training schedule that Bess and I came up with, the day of Philly was supposed to be our first long training run. 
I spent the week after the race trying to wrap my head around four more straight months of serious training.  I ran a couple times, and while I felt okay for the most part physically, mentally I was a ball of nerves.
This was not going to go well.
Finally, on Tuesday morning, I sent Bess a text message.  We had plans to meet at 6:45 AM and head for the trails, but I found myself searching for excuses.  It was really cold.  It had rained the day before, and the leaves would be slippery.  Maybe the trails would be covered in ice.  Is that a pain in my right foot?  
“What do you say we skip the run and meet up for coffee to talk about the ultra?” I wrote just after six.
An hour later, we were sitting in a Starbucks halfway between our houses, making small talk as I tried to figure out what I wanted to say.  “You could just offer Ali your slot for the race,” Brent had told me before I left.
But I didn’t want to not do the Ultra.  I just didn’t want to be training for it right now.
Finally, I found the words.  I told Bess that I needed a few weeks to re-calibrate, that I was happy to keep running, but that those runs couldn’t be toward any particular ends.  I didn’t want to feel guilty if I didn’t feel like running; I didn’t want to feel like I was letting down a friend.
And you know what?  
She totally got it.  
I should have known.
We decided to push back the start of training until mid-January.  Between now and then, one or both of us will be traveling every couple weeks, to Scotland (her) and New England (me) and Chicago (her) and San Diego (me).  We couldn’t get into a routine if we tried.
For now, we’ll keep running, together and separately, when we feel like running.  And come January 13, we’ll be off to the races.
I haven’t touched my running shoes this week.  I biked a fair bit, while watching terrifically terrible teenybopper television fresh from Netflix.  I stretched and strength-trained when I thought of it, and went for a couple walks.
But I didn’t stress about it on the two days that I didn’t feel like doing anything active.  And I didn’t get annoyed with myself when I came home and turned on the TV on a couple of occasions. 
It was wonderful.
As it turns out, my dissertation is right where it should be; my classes ended yesterday on a high note; we’re entering the calm before the Chanukah and Christmas storm; and my high school reunion was actually pretty fun.
Now, I’m going to turn off the computer, down some toast and peanut butter, and meet up with Bess for a couple hours out on the trails.
And I can’t wait.

12 responses to “Recalibrating

  1. RunningLaur December 5, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Sounds like a break is just what you needed. Enjoy the time on the trails!

  2. Bess December 5, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    wow, there are a lot of semi-colons in that one paragraph. i don't know how i feel about that. it might be over use. ;)hope you've defrosted from our recalibrating trail play this morning.

  3. I Run for Fun December 5, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    You have such amazing energy, Abby. Sometimes, it is hard to realize when you need to take time off and enjoy life, rather than focus on goals all the time. Glad you decided to cut back before the stress became too much. Enjoy your little break from training.

  4. Denise December 5, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    We all need a break. I took a full week off after Philly but was itching to get back out there, thankfully. You can always skip the March ultra and join us for 20in24…

  5. Amanda December 5, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Smart girl for taking the break that you need so that you'll be ready mentally and physically when it comes time to really get into training. It sounds like it's just what you need!

  6. Angela and David Kidd December 5, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Good job giving yourself a break instead of just suffering through training because you signed up for a race. You'll figure out where your heart is and do what's best for you (and if you spent a couple of hours on the trail I'm guessing you've already figured some things out).

  7. Tricia December 6, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Sounds like a break will do you good! Enjoy!

  8. The Happy Runner December 7, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    That sounds so healthy and smart! You'll be much better off for the break. Good for you for taking it 🙂

  9. Jill December 8, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Sounds like a great plan to change plans :). I will draw inspiration from you this weekend. Thanks!!

  10. X-Country2 December 8, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Sounds like you'll be ready to come back better than ever!

  11. Staci Dombroski December 10, 2009 at 10:37 am

    My husband makes fun of me because I LOVE to watch the tenny bopper movies from Netflix! It looks like you made a good choice on slowing down your training. I hope that you have a wonderful week 🙂

  12. RunToTheFinish December 12, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I completely agree, I want to jsut run right now. i don't want to focus on doing it for any other reason than because I want to.I know you'll do great in the ultra no matter what because you are hard core lady!!

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