I work full time, 40 hours a week.
I am a graduate student, pursuing my Master’s at Johns Hopkins University.
For the past six months I’ve been in constant training to stay in half-marathon shape.
Over the last year I’ve gone from totally sedentary to a three-time half-marathoner, lost 25 pounds, completed 40% of my Master’s degree (totaling 60% completed since I began in Fall 2012), and landed my dream job at my dream organization.
That’s a lot to be proud of. I have a lot to be happy about.
It’s also a lot to lose.
In the past week I’ve gained five pounds. I have a paper due Tuesday I can’t make myself start no matter how much is in my head I know I want to put in the paper. I skipped yoga today, even though I know it would have made me feel better in my body. I had to go home early from work yesterday due to a major stomachache, but it made me panic that because I’m fairly new at the job they’d look down on me for taking time off. I have another half-marathon in a week, and I feel something I promised myself I’d never let myself get too caught up in: the pressure to PR.
A couple of months ago I joined Courtney at her weekly track workout group in Tenleytown (DC for those not in the area), and before everyone got there, her coach asked me what race I was training for. I sheepishly said “um, like 5.” I ticked off on my fingers Charleston, Disney, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Cherry Blossom (a 10 miler, but still one I want to kick ass at), and Nike Women’s. (I’ve since added 3 more half-marathons to that.) She nodded and advised me to look at some as A races and some as B races – she advised me to make Rock ‘n’ Roll a B race, based on its course. If I’m training for several races, I’m not going to PR at all of them. If you love racing, she said, race as much as you want, but know that your body will get tired if you race too much.
But I love a challenge.
I’ve already PR’ed this year at the 13.1, the 10, and the 3.1, and have plenty more chances to PR. What I don’t have another chance at is retaking the courses I’m halfway through for this semester of grad school if I don’t do my best work for school. What I don’t have another chance at is working for my dream organization, if I drop the ball.
Less than the weight gain is my worry about why I gain weight during weeks like this. I stress eat. I feel like utter shit afterward from all the artificial chemicals and saturated fat, but there’s a mental disconnect between knowing logically how it will make me feel afterward and how bad my fingers want to repeatedly shovel Bugles into my pie-hole and my taste buds are begging me for Ben & Jerry’s.
Have I told you before about all the other great loves in my life? I think I have. I live in an amazing city that offers more culture and experience for young professionals than most other places in the country. In the last two weeks I’ve skipped a poetry reading by an incredible poet my best friend introduced me to, volunteer opportunities for park cleanup and invasive weed-pulling with the Sierra Club (shut up I did it in college and I loved it), turned down invitations to charity benefits for causes I am passionate about, skipped several author talks and book signings at Politics & Prose, missed a number of gigs at the 9:30 Club I would otherwise have loved to check out, added 20-30 more books and 10 documentaries to my to-read and to-watch lists without actually reading anything for pleasure hoping maybe one day I’ll have time to read, watch and learn everything I want to learn, turned down 3 different guys for drinks or dinner invites.
You know this popular little meme/t-shirt/what have you among the runner community?
I would like Hermione’s time-turner, please. I would like to live my life without the weight of two major obligations sitting on my shoulders, and I wish I could be as confident as I try to fake it til I make it that I am that running has nothing to do with keeping extra weight off. I feel like a fraud sometimes when I check the scale and I’ve gained a few pounds. When I see a picture of a skinny girl and get jealous. When I see someone’s sub-2 hour half marathon time and wonder if I’ll ever get there. When I see someone my age defending their Master’s thesis on something I’ve never even heard of. When I see my co-workers leading nationally renowned campaigns and initiatives and I’m doing data entry.
But I am enough. I have to remind myself of that. I am enough.