Getting it DUN – By Alexis Girvan
Flexibility is my family’s middle name. Every summer, my family unites in my mom’s SUV to head to Lake Placid, NY for a Girvan family favorite summer event: The Iron Man Triathlon. As one of the most recognized endurance events in the world, the Iron Man never disappoints: A 2.4 mile double loop along pristine Mirror Lake, 112 miles of biking into the Keene Valley, and a 26.2 mile trek on foot in the hills of Lake Placid. Grueling, to say the least – and an unparalleled demonstration of determination and commitment.
So… my family doesn’t actually RUN the race. Rather, the four of us, in baseball caps and rubber gloves, serve as veteran gear bag and med-tent volunteers. Our flexibility is key in the endeavor. The race requires approximately 4,500 volunteers and the roles are endless – from passing off spare tires, to massaging cramped feet, to catching men going down in the post-race refreshment tent. Every year 2,000 racers complete this feat – sometimes bloody, sometimes blistered, but never without inspiring hundreds of spectators to head to the sign up line for next year’s race.
Last year, I left more inspired than ever. As we walked away from the finishers’ oval, I decided to set my own “stretch” goal. I penned it in my journal on the ride home: by July 30th, 2010, I’d be training for a marathon. Big commitment for a girl in a post-college semi-slump. After having run a half marathon my senior year, I’d struggled to stay fit, let alone in any kind of racing shape. But by Fall of 2009, the life-giving education of our wellness clinic and the living, breathing examples that surrounded me started to sink in. I attended a running workshop and started learning a more efficient technique for my running. By January 31st, feeling more equipped than ever, I secured a training buddy and was on my way toward a marathon in May.
Flexibility called again. My training partner hit some setbacks and we had to re-examine race goals. With a Spring marathon out of the picture and the Summer months already packed, it looked like the race was going to have to be bumped to the Fall. I was torn between keeping the commitment I’d made to myself and staying flexible for my running partner. Either way, I knew I needed to keep running. So I signed up for Boston’s Run to Remember Half Marathon, attempting to keep things moving forward.
Four days before the race, I was on the phone with my mom: “Training just hasn’t been what I wanted. I’ve been having some weird chest pains, and I feel heavier on my feet than I have in the last few months. Maybe this half marathon is not a good idea.” I tried to visualize both scenarios: not running, “staying flexible,” and spending another month or so in training – or running on race day, completing the goal, and keeping the commitment I’d made to myself, even if I had to slow to a crawl to finish. “Well, you could be flexible,” she said, as she always lovingly does. “There is always another race…”
This is when the ever-flexible had to hold taut. Flexibility truly is an asset in its right context – being flexible for a friend who needs to change an appointment, or moving the date of an event to accommodate for a group’s schedule. But there are times when it becomes a detriment – like when you are getting out of a deadline, or squeaking out of something you’ve committed to. I was so close to playing Gumby and doing what I do best, but my personal goal gnawed at my heart. “Nope,” I said to my Mom, “I’m running it.” I went out, bought myself a new pair of running shorts, and recommitted once more to keeping the goal I’d penned.
Race day came. Emily, my racing partner, and I danced for practically the first mile and a half stretch as 8,000 people began to spread their strides along Memorial Drive. “One Fine Day” cranked on my iPod, the sun sat on our shoulders, and the breeze off the river gave runners its patronage. Honestly, if I ran that race solely to experience the high of those first 15 minutes, it would have all been worth it. By Mile Eight, I started looking for more water stations than were on the course. At Mile Ten, I hit a wall. Condemning thought processes started in, the blister on my foot started to smart, and my new, cute running shorts were starting to chafe…but I knew I had to finish. I’d chosen to do this race. No one chose it for me. And no one would finish it for me, either. Two hours and eleven minutes later, we crossed over the finish line. Goal completed.
Overwhelm. Relief. Elation. In the sea of race numbers and water bottles, GU wrappers and orange peels, my mind played over the last 2 hours, and the last 2 months. The hours of training, the long Sunday runs, small yes’s I’d said to run “just another mile.” I realized then that the victory for me was far beyond this finish line. The real win came in knowing that finally, I’d gotten serious about a personal commitment. Finally I’d bent all of my energy to silence my excuses. And finally, it had all paid off. Yes, there will be a time and place for flexibility – frequently. But personal goals also have their place. And when the call for committment is answered, the reward runs further than any racer ever could.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about a summer 5K– or maybe you are looking to cut down your mile time and qualify for next year’s Boston Marathon. Either way, Wednesday June 23rd from 6:30-8:30 PMis a workshop you wont want to miss. Dr. Ryan Hewitt, along with Danny Vadala of North Shore Crossfit, will be teaching the FREE workshop entitled Running on Air: The Secrets of Healthy Running Technique. Whether you are a novice runner or a seasoned athlete, you’ll benefit from learning some of the most efficient, natural techniques for running. Give our office a call to sign up: 978.927.8466. Then choose your goal – and stick to it.