The Chicago Marathon in 2005 was both the peak of running career and the downfall. Prior to doing that race, I had always assumed that the race was the hard part. Not so. The preparation was grueling. I always felt like I was preparing for my long runs, doing my long runs, or recovering from my long runs. If I was on call on the weekend, I would have to get up at 3am to do my long run so that I wouldn't have to run in the afternoon heat in August. The race went well. I decided to take a few week break, and that stretched into six years. I did try a few times to resume running, but it just never took.
In 2011, I finally resumed. I had lost some weight, so the running wasn't as physically uncomfortable. I made a pledge to myself to run at least three times per week for 4-6 weeks. It was so tough at first. I remembered how running had previously been almost effortless and meditative. When I was starting up again, it was painful and exhausting. The message "I'm going to die" kept cycling through my brain. However, after a few weeks, that message started to subside.
Now, I'm not running quite the marathon prep distances I used to, but I am running however long and far I want. It is not unusual for me to find that I ran far longer than I planned. My mind just drifts. sometimes I solve the problems of the world; other times my mind is blank. I used to always run with music; now I vary it up. Most importantly, I am feeling much better, both physically and mentally.