My last post was about accepting that sometimes good enough is enough. In the comments I wrote that the post was as much a reminder to myself as anyone - that's often true. No matter what your goal - having the strength and energy to walk to the mailbox, lifting 20lbs., walking 5 miles, or running 50 - the principals of reaching that goal are largely the same.
This idea that less than perfect is enough, that an honest effort will do (even if the results are less than planned) is such a hard lesson for me. And it seems to be the lesson of the week.
Today was my long run, my last long run before next week's Vermont 50 - my next 50 mile race.
Long run FAIL! - I only managed 16 miles. That's a far cry from the 38 miles I had planned.
OK, I know that 16 miles on steep trails is not nothing. I know that in a lot of people's eyes, 16 miles is pretty impressive. But I had planned on 38 - or at least something close.
My body had other plans, however. I started off pretty well. I had moments of great fun. But then everything started to change, and not in a good way. I was just tired. I've been a little tired and headachy for a couple of days (possibly fighting something off??). I was running out of steam. I changed my planned course to loop back by my house so I could have a snack and refill all my water bottles. (I always carry food and water with me, but on a long run it's hard to carry enough and there's nowhere to refill when I'm running trails.) I even had a quick cup of espresso, hoping that would perk me up.
It was really tough to force myself out of the house and back onto the trails. I ended up only going another 4 miles after that break. I simply couldn't make myself go. It wasn't about nutrition or hydration; I simply didn't have the energy today. Even running (and sometimes walking) the 16 miles was a huge struggle. My legs didn't want to move. All I wanted to do was sleep.
I wanted to persevere. I wanted to pull it out, struggle through and do it. I wanted to be like Frodo and Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings, struggling ever forward, against all odds, to their goal. Instead of Lord of the Rings, it was more like The Wizard of Oz - "Poppies, poppies....sleep my pretties." Maybe there's a Wicked Witch hiding in these woods....
So I came back home and took a bath. I can barely keep my eyes open at this point. I'm just tired.
Of course, once I was home, I kept thinking maybe if could have done it. While lying in the tub, I thought, "maybe I should go back out - I'm sure I could do a few more miles...."
I know that I am capable of pushing myself beyond anything I thought possible: I climbed Mt. Rainier just one year after finishing a full year of cancer treatment, I summited Aconcagua in spite of puking the whole way (the joys of e coli), I ran 50 miles, and I finished every one of my cancer treatments when I was sure I couldn't face one more. I am very capable of struggling forward and pulling it out.
But I also know the importance of listening to your body. And today, my body was telling me "NO!"
I listened. I know that exhausting myself in an effort to prove something to myself one week before a big race is foolish. And I know that one workout does not determine my overall fitness or readiness for this race. I am sure that it was the right thing to do, but I am disappointed.
So now, instead of feeling triumphant after my final long run, I am struggling to accept that a good, honest effort is good enough. And that good enough is just that - good enough.