Today has been wonderful so far and full of emotion. We got to see our little (yes, girl) on our ultrasound and it was just amazing. The last ultrasound we had at 7 weeks she was just the size of a peanut and looked a lot more like a tadpole than a human baby. Today it was much different. She actually looked just like a baby and we got to watch her move about and even open and close her little mouth. Tomorrow we go back to meet with the doctor and figure out what everything we saw means, but this is what we know so far. She’s a girl and she’s growing one day ahead of schedule bumping the due date to 3/4/13. After this morning my outlook on the world seems a little different. I’m happy and calm and excited. Tonight Tim and I go out to dinner, just the two of us to celebrate and talk about names.
Running…well, its been a very bumpy ride. I’ve had great runs this week and terrible runs. Yesterday I went out at lunch and got a mile and a quarter out and seriously considered walking back. My left calf was so tight and hurt with every step and my abdomen just felt that uncomfortable pressure and I just wasn’t feeling like how I like to feel when out for a run. I stopped and stretched, for quite a while actually and tried to figure out what to do. I finally told myself to just give it another shot for a couple minutes and then I could walk back to work if it still was feeling so bad. Well, what do you know, I felt better and actually completed my 6 mile run. After I was done though, my left calf was tight again and I could feel it in pain every time I walked. At home last night I used the heating pad to loosen it up for 15 minutes, then used the roller to massage it, then used my ultrasound device (different than the baby ultrasound but same idea) to get a really deep tissue massage on the muscle. I stretched it and this morning it did feel much better, but I still don’t know if I should run today or take an extra day off? I’m telling myself that an extra day off won’t hurt and will only help, but its hard for me. I’m so type A that I like to get in all my weekly miles and hate to take an unplanned day off. So…I’m putting off making the decision until I get home from work.
Another topic that I wanted to discuss after reading an article a couple days ago is about cheating in athletics. There was a runner who had accepted approximately $40,000 in prize money spread out over several small races that has admitted to doping his blood. His defense is that he never raced “unclean” and only used the aide to help him while recovering from an injury. With everything going on with Lance, this has become such a hot issue so I wanted to discuss my thoughts on the matter.
I’ll start with saying that I don’t think cheating is ever ok. Athletes at every level have to push their body very hard and always test the limits in order to see results they desire, and with that always comes risks. Risks of injury. In my running career dating back to high school I’ve dealt with my fair share of injuries and they are devastating. My last one seemed to come at the worst possible time. I had just run a break through marathon and felt like I was only beginning to tap the surface of my ability. Dreams filled my head and my heart of races and new PR’s and prize money. But I had to put all of that on hold. I was devastated and I just wanted so badly for someone to just be able to ‘fix’ what was happening to my body. I felt sorry for myself and I cried and I drank too much as a coping mechanism and I limited my food to unreasonable levels and lost about 10 pounds in only a few weeks. I felt like I had worked so hard and didn’t deserve this. I was constantly searching for cures but never once did I think about taking some illegal aide to help myself get better. As time went on, I even came to realize that what happened was probably very good for me and thankfully, Tim and I were able to experience something of such great joy from a time of deep pain. I became pregnant!
Then there’s performance and racing to think about. Yes, its nice to win races and its even a little sweeter to win money at races, but I honestly can say that I still compete for me. What’s most important to me is that I perform well in my own opinion, regardless of who else shows up or what ever glorious prizes await me. I love to push myself and I love to improve. That is what its all about to me. As such, I just could never feel good about my performance if I knew that I was cheating or doing something outside the rules. And because I feel so strongly that there are enough athletes that DO play by the rules and deal with the occasional injury (and for some if its their profession, their income is tied to this as well) I really do believe that those that don’t play by the rules should be punished severely. A two year ban is usually enforced and I can’t really say whether or not this is harsh enough. Usually with professional athletes they are stripped of their awards/records and lose their sponsorships. For this runner though, I really think he should have to pay back all the money he collected in prizes. Pay it to who, I don’t know. It would be nice though if his earnings during those years were donated to a charity, maybe even a charity like Girls on the Run or some other youth athletic program that teaches young children a positive message about health and sports. Am I being too harsh? Isn’t everyone entitled to make mistakes? Isn’t that a part of being human? It is, but then I think that for every prize that this guy accepted, there was someone else that was playing by the rules that missed out. To me its sort of like a banker or accountant that’s skimming money off their clients in small enough amounts that no one notices. Its still wrong. Its still profiting at the expense of others and what does it do for yourself really? Does it help you grow as an athlete or a human being? Because I think that has to be a part of it to.
Running doesn’t define me, but it does help me grow as a person. There are so many life lessons I’ve learned from running. Even dealing with set backs, disappointments and injuries can be a learning and growing experience if you let it. But if you’re always giving yourself an unfair advantage and allowing yourself to truly push beyond your own limits and still be successful, well then what’s point in any of it. If you never experience pain, how do you feel the pleasure? If you never experience setbacks, how much great can the glory actually be? So, it is my opinion that when athletes cheat, they’re not just cheating someone else, they’re cheating themselves the most.
The moment I crossed that finish line at Myrtle Beach and ran a 2:52:01 marathon was a moment that I’ll never forget. It was elation that was better than any type of artificial “high” that I think you could ever experience from any type of drug. All of the hardships, all the pain, all the self doubt that I had to tackle seemed to make that one moment so much more glorious than it could have ever been if the whole thing had been easy. Knowing that I had accomplished that goal and that no one could ever take it away from me, and I had done it all by myself was a treat more desirable than gold. Those are the moments that I live for and work hard for. I would never want them to arrive from something cheap and unnatural. I truly hope that this runner has learned from this after all and that he becomes a better person and athlete because of it.