To make the summer months pass a little quicker, I signed up for a Fall Marathon in Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota back in March. It did not register that I will be doing most of my marathon training in the dead of summer, in Alabama.
Alabama summers are humid, hot, sticky, and oppressive. There is no escaping the brutality of the summer sun mixed with the stagnant thick hot air. The days I need to train for my marathon are quickly inducing dread, and indirectly triggering grief.
Why is it indirectly? Well, I wanted the summer months to pass by quickly because my boyfriend is deployed. He comes back the second week of October. My Twin City Marathon is on October 1st.
Dealing with his deployment has been a task standing on its own. I’m back to cooking for one, feeling the void when I wake up in the morning and he’s not there. Coming home to a quiet house and not having a tremendous amount of human interaction outside of work or my Thursday night Kickball games. But here’s the thing: he’s not dead. So though his deployment is stressful, I’ve been okay for the most part with very few meltdowns.
But marathon training, there have been many meltdowns because of the binding and claustrophobic grip of the humidity and heat.
When I wake up at 4:00 am to get my 10-mile run in before having to be at the gym for training at 6:00 am, the moment I step outside it feels like I opened the door to someone taking a hot shower. It’s repugnant, and because I know how my body reacts to feeling overheated with no release, my muscles tense up with dread.
Running feels like a chore and is no longer fun for me. It provokes a deep anger and uncontrollable feeling of failure that I can only relate to the weeks and months after George passed away. It’s unavoidable stress, and if I don’t train, I will suffer dire physical consequences on October 1st. So I push forward with my running, usually resulting in a meltdown as I near the 10-mile mark.
Exercise is a physical stress on the body, but it also ignites the endocrine system to release hormones to help with stress relief. That’s why when I was grieving after George died, exercising was magnetic for me. It provided me relief from the crippling and suffocating feelings of grief. But when my stress reliever has adverse effects and begins to trigger my grief, that is alarming.
I adore Runner’s World and was even in a featured content at the beginning of the summer. Click here to read about my grief journey and how running helped me. But I’ve been reading the articles all summer long about how to combat heat, humidity and the awfulness of marathon training in the summer. There are not enough hours in the day to edit my training schedule. My running has to take place at dawn, and unfortunately, solo night running isn’t an option here in Montgomery, Alabama.
So, grief is trickling back through my marathon training. I think about George, I find myself talking to him more and more recently. And when the mood strikes and a special memory bubbles up, I lean in to shed a few tears.
I will never do another Fall Marathon. Another new lesson George has taught me.