giovedì 30 marzo 2017

Diary of a wanna-be marathoner (Episode 2): Rome 2017, leaving for Rome

Tomorrow my comrades and I are leaving for Rome to attempt the 2017 marathon. This is not how I pictured my very first marathon to be.

Running a marathon has always been in the back of my mind.  However, it has always been a “one day" kinda project. Then life happens and you think that the best remedy for a heartbreak is to jump straight into a marathon. Training, and planning for the training will keep you busy, you won’t delve into the “what ifs” or “maybes”. The cherry on the cake is that you are nursing a breakup by doing something healthy (old me would have jumped straight into food, alcohol and cigarettes…to numb the sadness).

Add to that you take advantage of a period when you feel physically good: you are fresh from a good year jumping from WOD to WOD, running 5 k here and there… completed a half marathon strong….. and you believe that any potential leg or general pain will be a 100 times better than the pains of the heart… You make an impromptu decision and convince your friend that 12 weeks of training are enough. After all we just want to finish it, no PB.

6 weeks into the training I get a reality call: no crossfit or WOD prepares your body for the strains of a marathon. Running is a different ball game! My body collapses.  Even if I had adhered to a well-grounded programme, which gradually increased the distances, I get exposed to all the injuries in the book of runners: ITB, shin splints, micro fractures and compartmental syndrome. Doctors, some friends and family become all of a sudden running experts: “you did too much, too quickly, marathons are wrong, your mobility sucks, your flexibility is not existent, you didn’t foam roll enough…. YOU ARE STUPID”… As if I was not sad and angry enough.

Over the next few weeks however, I keep on going only thanks to the help of the precious friends, and specialists that I am privileged to be surrounded by and have access to: chiropractors, kinesiologists, orthopaedics, sport therapists, physiotherapists, trigger massage therapists, Cryo … Most important of all, what kept me from losing hope and getting depressed was the constant motivation by many (take my fellow marathoner Ahmed whose will power is scaringly strong and who said we won’t leave Rome without three medals, and he ain’t kidding) as well as those who kept incessantly reminding me  that:
  • it is ok if I have to walk-run it.
  • it is ok if it takes me 7 hours to complete it.
  • it is ok if I decide not to do it all.
  • it is all ok!!

I honestly do not know how Sunday will unveil itself. Which scenario will prevail. What I know however, is that just like everything else in my life, the marathon has been all about the journey. A journey where:
  • I learned so much about my body. What it can do, what it can’t do (now).
  • I became kinder to myself and more accepting of my current limitations. Limitations that come with age… I was reminded how I shouldn’t compare my progress to anybody. Even if I think I am on the same page as others (because we train together, or our bodies are somewhat similar). I might be comparing my chapter 10 to their chapter 15.
  • I was reminded of the power of will. Sunday will be a big test for me but over the past months I have seen the manifestation of will on others. I have witnessed the epic achievements of some of my friends who really truly believed in themselves. I feel it would be a disrespect to them and their will if I didn’t give it my all on Sunday.
  • I was reminded of the power of friendship and how important it is to just let go of those people who do not make you happy. Keep close those people who believe in your even when you could not believe in  you.

Rome, I am coming for you. No matter what Sunday is holding for me, I will enjoy this trip. I will hug my family and my friends who are coming from all corners to see and support me (I love you so much!). I will inhale every bit of the greatness that the eternal city has to offer. I cannot wait to show my friends from the UAE and the UK a city, Rome, though my eyes….  Roma, stiamo arrivando!

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