Sunday, November 27, 2011

Every Picture

Why do you run?

We see that question asked a lot.  On blogs. In running magazine articles.  Everybody has a reason why they run.  Or so they say.  Something so obvious on the outside.  Much deeper on the inside.

There's your picture.  Then there's the story behind your picture.   You may give a reason why you run.  Because you wanted to lose weight.  Because you wanted to run a marathon.  Because you needed a hobby.

But, what you really may be saying is it's not about the weight, it's about running from what made you gain the weight. It's not about the marathon, it's proving to people who say you can never do anything that you indeed can. It's not a hobby, it's a lifesaver.

Every time I start to get to know a new running friend I'm so tempted to ask, "So, what is your story?  You real story?"  But, I don't.  I know in due time it will come to me.  Not because I asked.  Not because it's necessary I know. But, because eventually they will tell me.  Because eventually we will become closer friends.  Because eventually they will trust me.  Because eventually it becomes less about the run and more about the person.

When I watched this years Chicago Marathon I watched the 40,000 faces run by me.  Faces of runners.  Faces of people.  I wondered what their stories were.  There was the woman who works at Target.  Your neighbor.  Your friend's college son.  The veteran.  The single mother. Your husband. Your college roommate.  The recovering drug addict. These are all things others see on the outside.  But, most people don't see what's on the inside.  What really fuels them to run.

Sex addiction. Depression.  Alcoholism. Obesity.  Mental illness. Sex abuse.  Serious physical illness. Bad marriage. Financial struggles.  Infidelity.

It's some of what fuels people I know. Fuels them to run.   Yes, they run to feel good.  To be healthier people. To be stronger people.  To be better people.  But, in reality what they - we - run for is to be free.  To be free of the demons that threaten to destroy us. Free to run. Free to live.  Free. To. Be.  

I'm amazed each time someone opens up to me.  Tells me their story.  I feel honored that they trust me with such intimate things.  What is ironic though, the more people who tell me their story, the more that hear mine back.  Maybe not all of it.  But, bits and pieces. Here and there. Sometimes having someone open up to you  allows you to feel it's ok to do the same.   And, what we often find out is sometimes we are more similar than we are different.

Each person's story is intense.  Because it's their story. We all have our shit.  But, your own shit is the hardest.  Because it's yours.  I cannot specifically relate to many of my friends demons. But, I certainly can empathize.  Listen.  Hear.  Care.  Love.  Be there.  I may not know the solution.  I may not know the right thing to say.  But, I do the best I can.

However, I can still clearly remember  what one friend told me when talking about his demons.  He said that it may be something he has, but it does not define who he is.  I've never forgotten that.  He is so right.  What happens to us,  what we live through,  what we are going through, what we struggle with.  It does NOT define us.  It is NOT who we are.  Sometimes it's hard to remember that.  But, it's important that we know that we are who we are because of things we've experienced.  And, we are better people for surviving.  It all. And, we will survive. 

Running helps us get through it.  Run past it.   Run the hell over it.

Sometimes, someone shares something that knocks me off my feet.  Hits me so close to home it makes my stomach turn.

 Because sometimes,  their story is my story too.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fat in a Box

I ran on Saturday.  After ten weeks of no running, I ran.  I raced the Chicago Hot Chocolate 5k.  I wasn't really sure I was actually going to run at all. The shin had been quiet for a few days, but it acted up  there the days before the race.  I was worried about running. But, the doctor did  tell me to do a light run before today's appointment.  So, I did.  I ran a 5K.  My legs ran.  My mind ran.  My heart ran.

I cannot even begin to tell you how awesome it felt.  Even though I was in a lot of pain, I was so happy.  To be on the run again.  Running from what?  Running to what?  I still don't know. But, running.

Today I went in for my ortho appointment.  I had more xrays done on my shin.  This time also on my spine and hip (aka, AK area for those in the know) to see about dics problems in my back that possibly could be causing my UBHA pain. Thankfully, the spine and hip looked good. 

The results are that I will continue to stay on Injured Reserve for awhile longer.  Apparently, the good old ortho doctor is not so sure it's a stress fracture after all.  He thinks it's taking WAY too long to heal. I agree.  So, his thoughts are now that it perhaps may be some type of tumor causing pain on my shin. Oh, yes, goodie.  He said tumor.  Before anybody freaks out, I am not freaked out.  Well, not yet anyway.  More tests to follow at 5 am Friday and then we go from there.  I'm pretty confident it's still a stubborn stress fracture.

I'm more freaked out that I still cannot run.  Ten weeks of no running is hard.  Hard on the soul that's for sure.  I need the run.  For me.  For my sanity.  For my body.

Running was always mental therapy for me.  Absolutely.  But, along the way of that journey my body kind of followed suit.  As I ran not only did I feel better mentally, but physically as well.  My body started to change.  Honestly, I didn't even notice it.  Not until people started making comments to me. Strangers even.  Telling me that I looked great.  It was weird.  Very odd in fact.  I wasn't used to this.  Remember? I used to be invisible.

It was hard for me to come to terms with the change in my body.  Honestly, I never really thought about how I looked.  I mean I thought about how I looked. But, I didn't see myself as a fat person.  I'm tall.  I'm used to people telling me I'm big.  But, I guess I didn't realize they were also referring to my size in general.  Honestly, I think I hid it pretty well.  Well, at least I thought I did.

Until I lost weight.  From running.  Sixty five pounds of running my ass (literally) off.  The weight was on for a reason.  To protect me.  It kept me safe.  (a whole other blog that may never be written) I was scared to lose that security. I didn't know that then.  I know it now. 
But, oddly, I felt good.  Felt good about myelf.  For the first time in a VERY long time.  The New Andrea.  It was nice.  People who know me would say I was always confident person.  But, it was a lie.  I was not.  But, I began to feel it more now.  Own it more.

People made comments.  I still get them.  The ones I get often are from people who haven't seen me in awhile, a year or so.  It's usually a stare, then, "Oh my God, you lost a ton of weight."  Of course all I hear is, "Holy shit you were a big fat pig"   Its embarrasses me.  Of the person I used to be. 

 But, then I see my friend Claire.  Who who owns her weight loss journey  like nobody's business.  When we ran into each other at the 2011 Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon medal engraving  our lives collided.  We had met earlier this summer at Chicago DoLife 5k .  When we met this second time we couldn't talk enough about running, social media, our running friends and how our lives had changed drastically through it all. She lost weight but still saw the fat girl of old.  I stood there before a beautiful woman full of confidence but not yet owning her beauty. I couldn't tell her enough to jump out of that box and own it.  All of it. Be proud of it.  Be the New Claire.

After our conversation, Claire become an unofficial #DoEpicShit  girl.  She earned it.  For sure.  I'm amazed each and every time I see her rock yet another race PR.  I had the pleasure of cheering her on for the  Chicago Half Marathon She looks phenominal and is now training for her first marathon.  One hundred and twenty five pounds and one year ago a different woman.  Now, a women possessed.  A beautiful strong women.

So when people tell me I look great I think of Claire. I still just stare at them.  I'm horrible with compliments  I don't get them often.  When I do, I don't know what to say.  I have to learn to accept them. I'm just so used to deflecting them.  Because I am not worthy.  Don't feel worthy of them.

I'm getting better though.  When they ask me how I did it, I tell them I run.  I didn't try to lose weight.  I ran for my sanity.  The weight was a by-product of that.  I get excited and try to get the person to run too.  I encourage them to sign up for a 5k.  I want them on my party train.  Choo-Choo!

Problem is this train is stuck in the station.  Not only am I mentally shot not being able to run,   I'm freaked out that I will go back to the old me.  The sad me.  The fat me.  The unworthy me.

I started 2011 with resolutions.  They were interesting ones to say the least.  But, the goal was to get me out of my box.  To stop living the life of the old me. Needless to say I skydived out of my box right out of the gate.  It felt good.  It was fun.  I was happy.

But, now here I sit.  Not running.  Still. 

I'm scared I'm going to crawl back in that box if I can't run.

 It's dark in there.

 It's lonely in there.

 I do not want to go there again.