In exactly 27 days I will make my competitive return to running after eight years of leaving the racing flats in a dusty box in the closet. The Hollywood Half Marathon is a welcome event highlighted and marked with a star on my calendar. Why am I looking forward to it with such raw enthusiasm? Pretty simple...I feel I have unfinished business.
I was forced to walk away from the sport that I loved because of a mix of personal family issues and severe health challenges that would keep me housebound for years. During these past eight years there has been a slow burn deep inside that over the last year has intensified to a smoldering. I so desire to experience that personal satisfaction that comes with finishing a race where you have left all of your sweat and soul on a 13.1 mile stretch of hard pavement. I so desire to run with a body that is now strong, resilient and fueled by the best sports nutrition products on the planet. Last time I raced I think I weighed about 92 pounds and my soul felt like it carried the weight of the world.
Now I’m proud to toe the line at 110 pounds of muscle and carrying nothing but the personal triumph that comes with creating the life that I desire. So this race, I can easily say, is a tribute to myself. Not just Milena the athlete. But to Milena the whole person. I’m just like a lot of you-balancing work, training, horrible friday night dates and awesome Sunday afternoon cocktails with my best girl friends. I feel so blessed in my life because my full-time “real” job is based in an industry that I love. Vitalyte Sports Nutrition is not only my employer but my greatest champion. The products they have created for endurance athletes have allowed me, at the age of 36, to work full-time, train full-time and finish this chapter in my life that I feel has been unwritten for almost the last decade.
Last Saturday night I was at the Endurance Live Awards. Competitor Magazine celebrated the greatest endurance athletes on the planet during this awards ceremony. As I walked onto the stage during the “Parade of Athletes” I felt like a completely different person that I did ten years ago when I walked onto the stage during this same ceremony. I walked with a confidence that only comes from experiencing both the depths of turmoil and the peak of success. I truly feel the fact that I have not just experienced, but lived both extremes and the entire spectrum of intensity that comes with being plummeted from the pinnacle of victory to the trenches of vicious conquest, is the reason I can walk into any situation knowing I can not be intimidated, bludgeoned or scared. No, I know I will own that line because the Milena that is running now is in charge of herself.
My stress fracture is still there. It’s not getting worse, but not much better. You know, I can run three days a week and the other days I am in the gym cross-training. I like the fact that I am making the most of what my body is able to do right now. I am being resourceful, smart and determined to be there on April 7th.