Monday, July 31, 2017

The Longest Mile

I was standing in my house in my running clothes, all set to go running and I was crying. Not the active kind of crying but the kind where tears silently just pour out of your eyes, down your cheeks and you think that maybe if you don't move or breathe you won't start convulsing. 

It's just running.

I could hear my friend's words from the night before when I mentioned I was nervous about my first run in a very long time. 

I remembered I had joked back with him, saying he might not be teasing me if he also hadn't gone for a run in so long that he wasn't even sure how to anymore. 

The truth is, it really is just running. 

But I had been stressing about it for 48 hours.   

I had done everything I could to postpone the run that I had so desperately been looking forward to for so long. I changed running clothes twice, switched shoes from a newish pair to a trusty old pair, downloaded Strava, watched youtube videos on how to use Strava, drank some water, put my hair up, put my hair down, back up, into pony tails, into pig tails, added a hat, changed to a bandana, back to a hat and then a sweaty-band, waited for my phone to charge, waited for my watch to charge and now, it was time to run. 

My last run of any distance was Death Valley Half Marathon, 7 months before. I had been gigantically fat,  and just getting a long term, and long undiagnosed illness under control that had caused that weight gain. I toed the line at this mountainous trail race without having trained much at all in the 4 months before that - with a power hike up, run down strategy that gave me a medal for my 6th Half Marathon and my very first DFL. 

The emotions of that race, and the desperate need for a major recovery which would require weight loss and strength building pointed me to a decision to take a break from running. I found something new: I began to learn how to power lift to help me get my fitness and confidence back.  

I worked hard. I found an amazing trainer who I love. I let myself be ok with having to take medicine every day that keeps me alive. I joined my boss for his next work adventure at an amazing company. I counted macros. What the eff with the macros! Slowly I started to feel and look like myself again.  

At the six month mark, I was ready to run. And then I broke my toe. "Nearly in half, that's pretty amazing," my doctor remarked as I tried to not pass out. "No running for 6 weeks." I was devastated. "How about 4 weeks?" He understands. "Come see me in 4 weeks and we'll do another x-ray and I'll tell you that you can run."  

And now here I was another month later, toe healing, body getting fit and strong, able to deadlift 245 lbs, yet I was crying over the prospect of merely putting one foot in front of the other and hustling down the street. 

Most people would tell you that I am nearly always happy and smiling. I am a happy, positive person, but the illness had taken a huge physical toll on me and with it, a mental one as well. I was standing there crying because of my fear of failure, because of the loss of 7, no really 11 months of missing running, the very thing that had given me sanity for the last 8 years. I was crying because I was overwhelmed about the seemingly simple yet mentally huge task ahead of me.  Even though I knew there was nothing I could have done to keep running while I got well, it still felt like my fault for letting it go. And now it had been gone for so long that taking the first step was so intimidating that it paralyzed me. 

I didn't have an epiphany. I didn't come to the conclusion that everything is going to be alright. I put on a pair of sunglasses to hide my tears and did what a lot of us do on days when we're not sure we want to run, but we know we have to run. We have to run for a training cycle, for our health, both physical and mental, we have to run so we can stick to our routine. We have to run because we are runners. Even when we might not want to, we run. And at that moment I didn't have to tell myself consciously what I already knew, and what you know, that even the worst most terrible run is better than no run. And so I went out the door and I began to run. 

You can find me on twitter here. 
And IG here.
Or if you want to follow my progress as I learn how to run again, I'm on Strava here.