The off season. Often greeted with bittersweet joy, fatigue, and the perpetual question, what do I do now? Before I took up running, I didn't have such defined seasons in my life (besides the seasons provided to me through the natural world). I have never, until now, had an on season of intense training to offset.
Last year I emerged from the marathon relatively physically unscathed. I returned to running about a week after the race, albeit at a reduced level. I set my sights on the Rachel Carson challenge and enjoyed hiking and communing with nature, as well as doing the steps at the Cathedral of Learning. It was active enough and different enough that it mitigated the post race let down. A nice place to land.
This time around, my quad injury has me sidelined and in physical therapy. I'm grateful for it, and know that what I learn will ultimately make me a stronger and better runner. Still, this presents me with another mental challenge, this time to come to terms with who I am, outside of running. To come face to face with that which I put on pause, soothed, avoided through all those miles. The set schedule. The predictable and comforting rhythm of exertion and rest. The tired joy of working towards a goal.
I am in a state of transition, transitioning not only to a post-race off season but in terms of my life as whole. Running and training serves as a healthy crutch, but there comes a time when you have to walk on your own two feet, and that time is now. I've made a lot of changes in the past years, changes that may not be so apparent on the surface, that I have only revealed and discussed with a few. I'm not sure I can articulate it so well here -- but I can feel it, and I feel now that I am facing the real me without a filter, without a buffer and it's ecstatic, scary, elating, sometimes boring but always, always, worth it.