Part 1 of Where I've Been and Where Im Going is all about the magical land of Arizona.
Just over two weeks ago, I was in that magical land for a family vacation and it was everything I could have hoped for and more. I spent time with my family, which I rarely get to do these days and which I desperately needed. I drove through the dessert at night and pulled over to see a world of stars. I saw the Grand Canyon and the red rocks of Sedona which were both uniquely magical in their own ways. I finally had the time to work out one, two, or three times a day if I wanted. And I got to leave the world behind for a week... which if you know me and how addicted I am to my job and everything else I have going on in my life, you know that that was not an easy thing for me to do. I also got some serious sunburn.
Which brings me to the next portion of this blog post and something I've been thinking a lot about since this trip: running with sunburn. I'll start by stating this simple fact: being in a place as beautiful as Arizona made every run better, even the ones that were unbearable. Day one started as any vacation should start: by the pool, which my midwestern skin did not appreciate very much and resulted in pretty bad sunburn. So bad that even though I had ample time to run as many miles as I wanted, I feared they would all be pretty painful because even getting into leggings and a sports bra was pretty painful.
But in Arizona, you wake up before the sunrise, and run until it peaks over the mountains. You don't miss out on that opportunity. I started almost every day in Arizona with a run under a perfect sunrise and through fields of cacti. I'll admit, for the first mile or so, feeling your running clothes rub up against your sunburn is pretty brutal. But as the steps go by, and an amazing landscape is at your feet, and you have your Arizona Running playlist blasting (yes I made a specific playlist for my runs in AZ), the pain of it all starts to subside and you start to take it all in. Every morning, as the sun rose over the mountains that I would run towards, hot air ballooners would take off and start to speckle the orange sky. The places I ran were pretty underdeveloped so I was literally running on the sidewalk of a road that cut straight through the dessert with nothing surrounding me but sand, sun, and cacti.
In a way, these past two weeks I've been reflecting on how running with sunburn is a metaphor for so many things in my life right now: how it starts out as the most painful, excruciating thing imaginable, in the middle is okay, even makes you stronger, and by the end has peeled off, turned tan, and toughened your skin. Training for a marathon is like that. It makes you more tired than you've ever been, makes your body ache in muscles you didn't even know you had, but when it's all said and done, you are better for it, stronger for it even. The mistakes I've made this year have been like that: they've hurt like hell and made me want to give up at first but I know I'm better because of it. My mothers cancer, my job, all of my life's hardships have taught me how to be a better person. They have toughened my skin in ways I once thought unimaginable. And they've allowed me to coast on through this new days sunrise among the desert cacti and see the magic in the world.
Thanks to the Arizona sun for teaching me this life lesson.
My longest run in Arizona was about 15 miles and it happened at the peak of my sun burn pain, when my skin was starting to actually blister (I'll spare you all the pictures). Starting out, I knew it would be a struggle but because it was my longest run of the week, I got to go further into the dessert than I had before and that made it that much more worth it.
And don't worry, I did do other things besides run and work out while in AZ. I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, which is, as you might have guessed, something every person should see at least once in their lives. Pictures don't do it justice. My favorite place of the trip was Sedona though. Tucked into red rock mountains, this small touristy town is a world entirely of its own.
Coming back home to Cleveland was certainly difficult. I was immediately thrown into Cleveland weather (RAIN) and craziness at work that I had attempted to leave behind. Life got the better of me and I had to make sacrifices and prioritize a bit. Unfortunately, one of the things that fell behind was fundraising. I now have less than two weeks to reach my goal of raising $5000 for Bright Pink. If you are interested in donating, click here.
I am proud to say that my training has NOT fallen behind. I had my last long run this past weekend (20 miles - which went great!) and am now officially heading into my taper. I feel confident that I'll be able to complete 26.2 in two weeks.
Keep an eye out on my blog for more posts and more inspiration in the next couple of weeks! :)