Sunday, March 16, 2014

Git on home!

Git on home!

It would be unfair of me to share only the good, fulfilling runs. I wish every run were like that but unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. Mental and emotional training are just as important as the physical training and I might dare add that they are even harder because reality is perceived in the mind of the beholder. I have run all day and all night before during the Canadian Death Race but my demons come out with a vengeance when I am emotionally weak; and they are ruthless! To my credit though, this is the first time they have shown up this running season. Every training run last year was plagued with them. I don't remember a time when I didn't break down in tears at least once during our long runs. But I became resilient and mastered the art of slaying them down and keeping them at bay. So, when they attacked yesterday, I realized I had let my defenses down. 

It started on Friday after having a sinking feeling that I had flunked a midterm in one of my favourite classes. Negative self-talk is very destructive and I felt sorry for myself all afternoon so when the alarm went off at 3 am yesterday morning I was already starting my run on empty. My husband tried to be so loving and encouraging but after a few hours, he became annoyed at my constant "sandbagging". I would have become annoyed at myself much sooner than that! We had found new paths to run on and the scenery was fresh and new but I could not snap out of my lethargy. My pace was unbearably slow so my husband was forced to either run at his regular pace or risk injury. It wasn't long before he was a speck in the distance but he would always wait for me to catch up. It was a rather mild morning but when you work up a sweat, it doesn't take long to shiver if you stop. Stephen suffers from Raynaud's (In medicine, Raynaud's phenomenon is excessively reduced blood flow in response to cold or emotional stress, causing discoloration of the fingers, toes, and occasionally other areas.'s) 
  1. so this constant stopping and waiting was challenging for him. 

For a while, I was somewhat successful at running ahead of Stephen because I knew he would be nipping at my heels and I did not want to slow him down. But my biggest challenge is still trying to keep up on my calorie intake. Trying to breath and chew and swallow all at the same time drives me to a near panic and so I don't eat. But it drastically slows me down as my energy wanes. Stephen is great at reminding me to carb up again. The general rule is 15 oz every 15 minutes. For those of us who love to eat, this a a great excuse to eat all the time! Last year we ran on Cliff bars and gels. But let me tell you, I am so sick of eating them I can't even stand the thought! We prefer eating whole foods like peanut butter and honey sandwiches, pieces of fruit, nuts and green smoothie. My favourite is plain macaroni with a little bit of olive oil and some half and half salt. It practically slips down right to the stomach. 

Stephen is always saying that there is nothing better than doing something you love with someone you love. But I didn't feel that I deserved his love this morning! My demons were howling with pleasure and I felt completely trapped in their talons. There was a dualism playing out in my mind, a childlike whimpering persuading me that I could not take another step and another firm and confident voice, more familiar convincing me that I would make it. I chuckle a little while writing this. The distance covered this time was marathon distance, 42 km. I had successfully completed over three times that distance last year! Why is it that humans are so forgetful?! 

With only five ridiculous kilometers left, I suddenly stopped in my tracks. I couldn't do it anymore! I broke down in sobs. Stephen was way too far ahead to notice, there was no one else around, no one to come pick me up. The training distance had to be covered if I wanted to succeed. That firm, steady part of my brain finally got angry! "Look, stop being a crybaby! You know you're better than this! Smarten up and git on home!" I thought of my brothers with Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, trapped in a body that refused to do their will. There was no one to come rescue them from their physical ailments, there was no end in sight to their daily struggles, no place for them to finally stop running and take a sigh of relief. I only had a few more kilometers before I could finally rest, Lehi and Mathoni had had a lifetime ahead of them before they could finally rest. And they had done so with style, grace and humour. "So dry your tears, catch up to Stephen and git on home!" 

I found something deep inside to get me going, I did catch up to Stephen and completed that horrible distance! The last 100 meters, Stephen offered me his hand and we walked back to our van. Fresh tears of gratitude and love for this man pricked my eyes. He declared that the best remedy right now would be to come home to a Ginger, a cuddly companion with soft brown eyes and warm golden fur to bury your face in, a true friend who would love unconditionally, no questions asked. Oh, how I miss her terribly! Animal therapy is God's secret weapon...


  1. We've only met a couple of times VIrginie, but thanks for sharing this. I get around in a wheelchair so I am not a marathon runner, but I suffered pulmonary failure in the fall of 2012. As a result I've been off work since then and had to have a tracheotomy done. Now I require oxygen 24/7 and am trying to exercise as my weight has skyrocketed out of control.

    I work or at least worked with Stephen at Matrikon now Honeywell. I hope to get back to work this fall but I go through the same emotions you described almost daily. While trying to do basic physio and weight loss.

    Thanks again for sharing, it is helpful to me to see that even able bodied people struggle as I do. I don't feel so ashamed of myself knowing that others have trouble finding the nerve to keep going, and it inspires me to know that it is possible for all of us to 'git on home'.


    Jason Martin

  2. Thank you so much Jason for your comments. I remember catching the 182 Northgate with you a couple of times. Running for me has always been more of an intimate, spiritual experience for me and I do feel somewhat vulnerable sharing my innermost thoughts and struggles but when I find out that my experiences can bring empathy and inspiration to others than it's definitely worth it! Thanks again for sharing your experiences. :)