Marathon: April in Review

Most of these monthly blog recaps are “here’s how my running went, and here’s how I did on my goals of reading books/saving money/losing weight/taking steps/training for a race, and here’s some fun things I did on the weekends and that vacation I went on.” That’s how mine have always been.

And now here I am, writing a recap for a month where my life is different today than it was on the first day of the month.

On April 3rd, we closed on our first house and became new homeowners.

Today, we finished the final cleaning and moving out from our old apartment and turned in the keys and now it’s really, truly over. We are out of there forever and apartment life is done.

I could talk about the equal parts stress and exhilaration that is moving into your first house, but for any of you who have run a marathon, you may not realize it but you already know what I’ve gone through this month. You’re already familiar with the sequence of emotions that has characterized the last 4 weeks.

Yeah! I’m doing this! I feel like a million bucks, let’s go kick some butt!

Alright. Still doing okay. But, yeah, this is kind of a lot of miles to run…how do I always underestimate how long this really is?

Oh my god. This is literally never going to end. Somehow without realizing it I died and went to hell and this is my eternal torture: I never get to stop running. The finish line just keeps getting further away. Everyone else gets to finish but I will never, ever stop running!!

This is so awful. I seriously hate this so much. Impotent rage and tears are bubbling up in me and I hurt and I want to scream and cry and throw a tantrum until the agony goes away. I hate life.

Wait…that’s it? It’s done? Just like that? 

img_2939So goes my month of being a new homeowner. We closed on our house, we got to work, we were so excited and raring to go. And then suddenly we had no lives. We came home after work and I put on my “uniform” to go to my “second job” to work on our house. It was fun to paint the first room. And then my hands hurt from gripping paint rollers and spreading color on the walls, over and over and over. It began to feel like there was literally no end in sight. Our old apartment was a mess. Our new house was a mess. Everything was a mess.


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And then one day, there was an end in sight. Somehow the painting got done and the carpets got torn out and the floors underneath them got scrubbed and thanks to the saintliness of some good friends, we got all moved in to our new house.

But that was not the end. There was one more week of April, and we still had a ton of crap to get out of our apartment and we had to clean it. So, once again I had no life, except this time it was in reverse: we were finally living in our new home but spending every evening working at our apartment. Sorting through old junk, scrubbing floors, sorting through more old junk. My god, it was miserable.

And now, it’s over. I never have to go back to that apartment again. We have this house we bought and we live here now. Full time.

img_2938So, this month was so much everything. There was excitement and joy. There was stress and fatigue and frustration. There was a lot of crappy convenience eating, a handful of “firsts”, and the occasional feelings of helplessness. There was beer. There was coffee. So much necessary coffee. And there were happy visits from friends and family. And now, here we are.

I thought a lot this month about change. What real change is like – changing your life, changing your self. And how real change never turns out the way we think it’s going to turn out when we make all those monthly goals for ourselves. One thing I’ve learned about change over the years is that it’s always two things: hard, and slow. It’s not neat, like we imagine it to be. You have to lose yourself in something for a while, get down in the mud and feel it soaking your clothes and squishing between your toes and fingers.

The way I envisioned my new homeowner life just one month ago – all those goals and ideas for what our home would be like – already seems like a distant, hard-to-decipher dream. Sure, I will still strive for those things, but I have to laugh at how easy and seamless I thought it would all be, how the in-the-moment reality of it all is so different than what I thought I could plan for. And this is where things become unlike the marathon. It’s not something where I can declare a goal, and make a plan, and check workouts off the list every week and then, TA-DA! If only the rest of life could be as simple as training for a race. But, maybe it’s good that it’s not.

And yet, despite having my expectations turned inside out and made a mockery of, change is happening. Not a lot, and certainly not everything I want all at once, but all the grit of this new journey is already starting to reshape me. The painting/cleaning/moving marathon of this month may have taken away my free time and my life outside work and my ability to get runs in, but it also took away my opportunity to come home to my crummy apartment and plop down in front of the TV and let my brain turn to mush. It deprived me of the listlessness and boredom that have bogged me down. It took away the feeling of having to go home to a place we didn’t care for or care about. Sure, many of the changes I want are still far away, some laughably so. But change is happening. This is it. It’s here.

Speaking of marathons, I think I did even less running in April than I did in March. I ran a whopping 5 times this month. I didn’t even hit 30 miles in April – and that’s including the half marathon I run-walked on the 1st of the month.

And yet, I managed to accomplish something this month that I haven’t been able to accomplish in the past year of running – I got my motivation to run back. The cruel irony is that for the first three months of the year I had tons of free time but no motivation to train; in April I finally got the motivation, but had no time. But this month, something definitely shifted. I found myself wanting, itching to run again. I’ve also been getting more excited for marathon training with every week that goes by and feeling so ready to dive in and start building up. And when I have been able to run these past couple weeks, I’ve felt great and enjoyed myself.

I’ve run twice in the past 10 days, on new routes from our new home, and each time I was blessed with crisp, perfect Spring weather.

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My easy pace has gotten slower than it was when I was training regularly, but it’s actually not that much slower (especially keeping in mind that I, like 90% of recreational runners, ran my easy runs a little too fast when I was training). More importantly, after how sporadic and almost non-existent my running has been for the past two months, I was really pleased that I could go out and run 4-5 miles with no issues and feel like I could keep going. In fact, on my last run, I did keep going! I had only planned for 3.5ish but I added an extra mile because I was enjoying myself so much. That never happens for me –  I do my planned mileage and I am done.

I’m still a little worried about having enough of a base built up for Week 1 of marathon training in 5 (!) weeks, but having these runs go so well and feel so good has eased my worry, and gives me a lot more optimism for summer training. I have a lot of work to do in the next 5 weeks, and even if May goes perfectly I still probably won’t be exactly where I’d like to start training, but being able to run 4-5 miles enjoyably and easily has been a big confidence boost for me. It’s so nice to be happy and excited and have “the itch” in running again. That feeling has been gone for a long time and I have missed it.

And now here we are. May 1, 2016 was the day I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon – I set a PR on a super hard course, but it was also the beginning of a hot, miserable summer and a long, even more miserable slump, mostly in my running but also in my life as well. What a year it’s been: now tomorrow is May 1st, 2017, the first day of our new chapter living full-time in the home we bought, and I’m coming back to life as a runner and feeling rejuvenated and ready to train again. But, luckily for me, May is also going to kick off with one of the most stressful work days I’ve had in a long time, so I better end this lengthy recap and get some rest so I have plenty of energy to spend tomorrow pulling my hair out. Just kidding. Sort of.

Happy May!

 

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8 thoughts on “Marathon: April in Review

  1. Happy May Hanna! It sounds like you are in a really good place right now in terms of running and general life stuff too. I would not stress too much about the next five weeks; I think that is plenty of time to build a little mileage and a lot of confidence before marathon training starts. It probably won’t be easy. My first 5 weeks back after a month of just 28 miles were ROUGH. But it was right around the 5-6 week point that things really started clicking for me. I hope that you will have a similar experience.

    Good luck! And enjoy the journey!

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  2. Congrats! Moving is stressful. And the house projects…even if you work your butt off to get something done, everything else (laundry, cooking, cleaning) gets backed up!
    This past week I have been working to exhaustion in the yard, but it has felt good, especially mentally good. I think once the bugs return, I will think differently :).
    I feel that going into a training cycle mentally “ready” is much better than having a huge base, but being mentally exhausted.

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  3. YAY! I’m so happy for your happy post. I have to say, cleaning the old apartment is the WORST part of moving out. We actually didn’t even finish when we moved back to VA… my husband drove back the next weekend with a friend to finish it up. We were just exhausted. I’m glad you guys are getting settled in and now you will have some time to build up your base. I think 4 weeks is plenty of time to get to a good place to begin training, but I seem to be very optimistic.

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  4. Painting is the worst… I mean, it’s great when it’s done, but I lack the patience to keep up with day after day! And I’m not into all of the detail work with taping things. We are finishing our basement and we need to paint it soon. My hand were also super sore from priming that space! Good luck to all of your new home projects!!

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