Monday, July 11, 2011

The Point of Release

I have a lot of time to think on my training walks now that I've hit the six milers.  At my pace that's about an hour and forty five minutes of think time.  I also have a fairly limited area where I am able to walk.  Sidewalks are scarce, and towns with a population of, say, 1500 or so don't exactly have sprawling urban areas where I can people watch or otherwise distract myself.  So I do some repeated loops.

I used MapMyWalk to chart out the distances in increments of 1, 2, 3, and 4 miles.  An entire circuit of the main streets in my subdivision give me a whopping 3 miles.  A somewhat dangerous training tip from the Susan G. Komen website was that my training miles do NOT have to all be logged at once.  For my six mile walk, for instance, I could do three miles in the morning and three in the afternoon.  Or two miles in the morning, two mid-day, and two after dinner.  Oh, the temptation to cut a walk short and finish it later...

I did try this a couple of weeks ago.  I wasted it on a three mile walk.  I did two in the morning and had all great intentions of walking a mile in the evening and then going for a swim.  Well, I did the swimming part, but it was just outside that I skipped the walking part.

No more.

Which is not to say that the temptation isn't there.  For my six mile walk, for instance, I do the initial 4 mile loop, pass right by the house, and then complete the two mile loop.  The individual parts of the loop have temptations in and of themselves.  The four miler is very similar to the three miler, with only taking a couple of side streets to differentiate them.  The difference between the one and two mile loops is a matter of turning either left or right at a certain intersection.  During a six mile training walk there are at least four intersections where I need to make a decision either to take the longer route or the shorter.

But after the last decision point, it's done.  No matter whether I'm tired or hot or cranky or don't feel like continuing for any number of reasons, in order to get home I'll need to complete the mileage.  That is a great feeling.  It's hard to describe, and I feel kind of silly writing it out, but it's as though just not having a choice in the matter of whether I'll finish the day's training or not makes it easier to walk.  Or like I'm already finished with the training even with a mile of walking ahead of me.  It's a point of release.

And then at the same time I feel like such a jerk for complaining inside my head about the training.

I just finished reading Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy.  Grealy was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma at age 9, underwent radiation and chemotherapy, had half of her jaw removed, and dealt with reconstructive surgery for the rest of her life (she passed away at age 39 not from the cancer, but from an accidental overdose of pain medication).  This was her memoir.

The part where she described the chemotherapy was excruciating.  She described trying to give herself pneumonia as a child in order to get out of going for her treatment, she described the daily nausea, and the brutal anticipation of her weekly appointment where it would all start again just as she was beginning to feel as though she could keep down food.  She described radiation burns inside her mouth that made it impossible to eat anything but the blandest of foods.  She recounted that this treatment continued for two and a half years.

I get to walk.  I might not look forward to aching legs, or the sun, or quite frankly the boredom.  But every time I go out there and train I get stronger.  Each time I go it gets easier.  And why am I training?  To try to raise money for cancer research.  Each time someone gets a dose of chemotherapy or radiation, it does NOT get easier.  It gets harder to endure physically, mentally, emotionally.

So I can deal with my trivial frustrations, the weight of deciding whether or not to fully train.  I get to have those decisions.  Now it's time to make them matter-of-fact and just release them, make the whole walk that point of release.

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