Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life's Balancing Act

Sometimes life has a way of throwing us off track from our plans. And despite the fact that I am certainly a "planner" by nature, I realize it's not always a bad thing for things to not go exactly as you expect.

My latest plan was to take on the Great Bay Half Marathon in a couple of weeks. A big part of me wanted to conquer this course after last year's experience - which ended with Scott pretty much dragging me through the last six miles (if not literally, most certainly figuratively).

Looking back, I probably wasn't ready for the race. March is a notoriously busy month for me at work -- with my weekends eaten up by young spellers, sometimes challenging parents and a whirlwind tour of the Elks lodges throughout New Hampshire. (Sure sounds like fun, doesn't it?)

But, in true Teresa fashion, I had committed to last year's race (part of that race series for that jacket - the one I never received), so I showed up at the starting line, ready or not.

And I made it the 13.1 miles. Not really enjoying it, but finishing it nonetheless. Another race checked off, another challenge completed, another accomplishment.

Scott and I have talked about this race a lot since then, including more than our (his) fair share of mentions of the belly dancers we saw. I told him early on of my plans to finish it better this year - and he even marked time aside in his schedule to specifically be there to help me along if I needed it.

But then life got in the way. But for a nice change, it wasn't in a bad way.

After the Hampton Half last month, I struggled to keep focused. I purposely took a few days off from running to give my legs a rest before I started consciously working toward the next race.

A few days turned into a few more days, which turned into only sporadic runs. I was lucky if I was getting out once a week with the team. I even stopped logging the miles on the calendar (which probably added to the fact that I wasn't motivated to get out more).

It wasn't like I didn't want to run - although with a bout of cold weather and some snowy days, I didn't feel like I was missing much. Running can be a chore in New England in March.

I can't really even tell you what exactly I was doing. I just wasn't running.

Work was only part of it. I was spending more time getting to know a new companion (who I'm sure I will give an appropriate blog name at some point, but haven't yet come up with a good one) - and perhaps as a direct result of that was severely lacking in sleep and struggling to catch up on some much-needed shut-eye whenever I could grab a few moments.

That isn't to say that my new companion (gotta come up with a name here) is a negative influence. It's very much the opposite - he understands more about what running means to me and encourages me in ways that I don't even think he's aware of.

In fact, I didn't mind my brief break from running (although I never really stopped, just ran less and without as much focus). It might have actually been a good thing to give my body a rest - and a good thing for my mind to focus on something (someone) else for a while.

I'm keenly aware that I need to work on achieving "balance" in my life - always has been an issue for me, wanting to jump in with two feet with everything I do.

Running had been a way to escape for me - a way to inject something positive into a negative time in my life. Now that that negativity is gone and is slowly being replaced by more and more positive things, I just need to find a way to balance all the positive things in my life. (What a nice "problem" to have!)

After a few weeks of slacking (if running 10 miles a week or so is considered slacking), I began to find myself getting frustrated with myself for losing focus - and make no mistake, it was entirely my "fault" that I skipped the runs or lost focus. I was distracted for sure.

I finally broke out of my slump last week - actually logged 24+ miles last week. Really good, productive miles. I ran better than I have in a long time.

I felt stronger and faster. It felt so good to be outside - my legs finally set free from those darn running tights that I hate so much (especially by this time of the year).

Still, I have mentally scratched the Great Bay race from my calendar. I know I could finish. It probably wouldn't be easy, but I would finish. But the thing is, I don't
have to.

Nothing's nagging at me right now to finish those 13.1 miles. Maybe it's an inner protest not to shell out the $40 entry fee to the same group that didn't give me that jacket last year -- the one I
earned after running all those miles last year. (I know, I need to get over this.)

It wouldn't be like me to not feel a twinge of guilt for not running the Great Bay Half in a couple of weeks. (I suppose there's still a chance I could go for it... but it's very, very unlikely.)

Instead of feeling guilty, I'll just continue to enjoy the challenge of balancing the good things in life with running and work -- and set my sights on the next race.

Hmmm... perhaps Big Lake?


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