The ankle feels good. I'm finally on the mend. The ankle hurts. I can't run. This sucks. It's been months. I'm never going to run hard again. It feels pretty good. A little sore. But if I take it easy, I can enjoy the run. New shoes. Limited soreness. Ready for the next marathon. Just have to slow the pace. Damn it. I'm never going to be healthy again. I'm just old. 37 years old. Isn't that the time when even Hall of Fame caliber, professional athletes start to hang it up? I'm not a pro, and I'm not hanging it up. People twice my age run marathons. This just won't be my fastest marathon. That was a great run! I felt amazing. Why can't this be my fastest marathon? Get to work! Slow it down. Not 100% yet.
And the beat goes on.
I think that this is one of those times when people tend to say that The Truth is "somewhere in the middle". Perhaps what that means is that there is some truth to all of what was said.
I could indeed hang it up. But that would mean that all of this running that I've done meant nothing. It would mean that I've learned nothing. And it would mean giving up on something that I genuinely love. So that's not much of an option.
And getting faster? Faster than I've been in the past? Perhaps an option. The human body is capable of incredible things. Especially when the mind is its' ally rather than its' adversary. I could dedicate myself anew. Lock into a strengthening program that would build me up fast. I have had some good strong runs lately. So my ankle can hold up. But even if I set aside the obstacles/excuses of work obligations and a social life, I can't honestly say that I want to put in that kind of work right now.
Which brings me back to slowing it down. Which perhaps isn't the right way of putting it. I've all but ground to a halt in the past few months. So any honest marathon preparation will involve more running and cross-training than I've been doing as of late. But the race itself? That will be run at a different pace, and with a different mindset, than that with which I've grown comfortable. And it does feel like slowing down. It does feel like a step back.
Which brings me to another one of those things that people tend to say: "I wish I could do it all over again." That, of course, doesn't happen. We don't get to go back. But we do sometimes find ourselves in situations that are similar to others that we've experienced in the past. Experiences that ended with the dreaded "shoulda, coulda, woulda".
So here I am again. Looking at a race that I know won't be my fastest. This realization came to me once during a marathon. And I fought that truth, when I could have embraced it. In the process, I soured what could have been a wonderful experience. I cheated myself out of something great, simply because it wasn't exactly the great thing that I had told myself that I wanted. And I was in this situation on another occasion too. I told myself well before that race, that it wouldn't be my fastest. That I would take it easy. And I took it too easy. I didn't train properly, and by the second half of the race I was miserable.
So I'm sitting here now with the closest thing to a "do-over" that I'll get. With the opportunity to find The Truth in the middle. I have 62 days left until the Prague Marathon. This will not be my fastest marathon. And it doesn't have to be my slowest. But time isn't the issue anyway. The process is what's important. Honest hard work and preparation, inspired by a love of running, is what's important. An appreciation for the opportunity to run through Prague is important. Finding rhythm and balance. That is important.
The roller coaster isn't in my ankle. It's in my head. It's in the way that I've chosen to view my injury. Time to get off of the ride, pull my laces tight, and run down the middle of this race course.