Monday, August 20, 2012

Review Mirror

So, here we are.  One year ago on this date I broke.  

One week out from my 10 minute PR at the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon  and seven weeks from the Chicago Marathon.  I broke. 

I was whining and bitching (shocker) about going out on my 18 mile training run.  It would have been a PR distance for me.  I missed my 17 mile run for the half. The half hurt.  A lot.  But, I had a friend pushing me through it.  Otherwise, I think I probably would have quit on myself somewhere in there.  Not stopped.  But, walked some of the race.  But, I didn't.

So, there I sat ready to run my 18 miler.  Okay, ready would be the wrong word choice.  Terrified would be more appropriate.  Two of my favorite runner doodes were texting me and telling me to stfu and just go.  They are pretty bad ass ultra runners.  Me, not so much. Finally I went.  I really had high hopes and was determined to do this. 

But, eight miles in I stopped.  I quit.  Mentally I was done.  Physically I was most definitely done. My leg was hurting.  Not just  "this is a long ass run and my leg is tired" hurting.  Like on fire hurting. 

I sat on a bench along the river.  And cried.  I knew I was done.  Even if my leg was just a minor setback, I knew mentally I was quitting.  I texted the guys.  Both would usually tell me to suck it up and run.  They both told me to stop trying and go home.  They knew.  Better than I did.  They knew. 

What I didn't know then, or for a few months for that matter, was that I had a tibia stress fracture.  One year ago today.   I haven't been the same since.  What followed was a pretty crappilicious year, both running wise and personally.  

It took the next three months to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor. Bone scan, MRI, and more x-rays than I can count.   

I ran a 5k race after my ortho doctor told me that 10 weeks surely should be enough rest from running.  It hurt.  I did it.  But, I MADE myself do it.  It really, really hurt. 

After all the tests I finally got a hands in the air, "I think it's a stress fracture" diagnosis.  Boot for a few months to follow.  I waddled for the next few months, which then threw my UBHA (sciatic crap aka UnderBitchHammieAss) into overload.  When I finally got out of the boot my ass hurt a ton. If you've never had this sciatic pain you have NO IDEA.  It sucks.

But, I soldiered on.  Took baby steps back to running.  3 minute runs. 5 minutes.  7 minutes.  10 minutes.  1 mile.  Until I ran my Fuck the Boot 5K on a very cold Chicago morning.  I was back.  

I was wrong.

2 weeks later on a short run, steps into it I heard a POP.  I thought I broke my leg.  It was a calf strain.  TEN times more painful than my stress fracture.  Not to mention the awful sound it makes.  Ewww.  Down again.  

Then it was up, down, up, down for the rest of the year.  Ass pain.  Foot problems.  Falling off a bike. Mental funks.  Just when things looked good, they got bad again.  I'm in pain all the time.  Something hurts.  All the time.  From my neck all the way to my foot.  Pain.  Now I have some weird ailment I'm dealing with. I don't think it will affect my running.  But, I think somehow it was brought on by my lack of running.  I also think it's more mentally based.  It's just manifesting itself through a physical problem.  Oh goodie. 

I hate that this year was like this.  It was so frustrating.  Overwhelming at times.  I want to so badly be out there running.  It's what saved me.  It's now what kills me. People keep telling me to bike.  To swim.  Yes, I hear you.  But, I can bike 60 miles and it does nothing for me.  I get the miles in, sure.  But, I don't feel the mental and physical workout. Swimming?  I love swimming.  Of course.  It makes me happy.  But, running makes me healthy.  Both mentally and physically. 

While I struggled, others people rocked on.  It was fun to see people be awesome.  It was hard too.  But, come on....

First half marathon
First marathon 
first Ironman  (yes, I cried like a baby watching the live feed of friends crossing the finish)
200 mile rides
first 100 mile ultra
and many personal achievements and overcoming adversity that made me grin ear to ear.....
and on, and on....

Amazing to watch so many of my friends rock it.  So proud of them.

I did have some nice moments in my crappilicious year.  There were the races I Do Epic Shit cheered for because I couldn't run them anymore.  Chicago Half, where I taunted Claire with her DES shirt the entire race.  I rewarded her PR with the actual shirt.  Off my sweaty back. 

Chicago Marathon, where I had THE best time cheering in all my friends.  Seeing most of them three times along the course.    Shamrock Shuffle, where injured reserve Claire and I finally joined forces and Do Epic Shit cheered together.  So fun! Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon.  The first time I didn't run this race.  

I quit my job of 19 years.  I love my new job.  There is no way I could continue on with my old job.  AND, not run.  I wouldn't make it through each day.  I was barely hanging on there in the end.  My new job makes me smile.  And, giggle.  A lot.  I feel valued.  Appreciated.  Not something I felt much of at my old job.  Or life for that matter. My boss is very understanding about my desire to run.  She doesn't run. But, she appreciates my desire to. And, she says fuck a lot.  Which makes me smile. 

I did my first triathlon.  Albeit as a relay.  But, a way to see what it's like.  I had the most awesome and inspiring teammates. It was an amazing experience.  So very cool.  I had a decent swim, coming third out of the water for the relay teams.  Not bad for an old chick. 

I worked on rocking my headstand.  Went for a five minute PR.  Knocked it out.  Now working on ten minutes.  At 8:26 I'm almost there.  I WILL do ten minutes. 

I got my swim on.  Not nearly enough as I really want to.  I want to do better.  But, I'm happy I'm back in after all these years away.  And, I'm proud that there is one thing that I don't suck at.   I want to be better at this.  But, I'll just keep swimming and see where it takes me.  Yesterday it took me for a 6000 yard swim .  Yeah, baby. 

But, I still don't run.  I know that when, IF I do start again, it won't be easy.  It won't be free.  It won't be without worry.  That I'll break again.  Something old or something new.  Break.  Long gone are the 9ish minute mile runs of running out my problems in my head.  Now my problems will be in my body for long 11:00 or 12:00 minute miles.  

One long year.  One very long broken year.  It's gotten really old.  I'm really so over it. 

I have to stop looking back and start looking forward.  I need to have some hope.  Even when I think there is little.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

Body By Me

Today I was involved in a few body image conversations.  Not sure what it was about today.  But, today was about bodies.  At work we had some intense discussions about a new dress code that is, in my opinion, teetering on discriminating against people who don't fit a corporate image of what "Americana" looks like.  I'm not sure what that really is.  However, I do know that we could have walked in the Olympic opening ceremonies and been called out for being American in a heartbeat. 

During the day I was also having some serious body image discussions with a new friend, a male triathlete across the globe (I love the internet). We have the same insecurities.  We have the same struggles.  It's not a female thing.  It's a human thing.  I think women may feel it worse.  But, it doesn't mean men don't have the hurt too.  

The body is an interesting thing.  It's a beautiful thing.  We look at bodies all day long.  You may not think you do, but you do.  Some of you do more than others.  You know who you are.  When you are walking down the street you observe.  You look at those you pass.  You notice.  Shapes.  Sizes.  Movement.  Bodies. 

As I left work I was walking behind a young woman in a long clingy maxi dress.  She was covered in fabric from her chest down to her ankles.  Yet, she was hard not to stare at.  You boys missed out.  As she walked that dress hit all parts of her body.  Let's just say a thong does a body good.  I love men.  But, I can appreciate a beautiful woman's body.  Oh, I was jealous too. 

When I got home from work I saw my friend, Jay's post.  He had been at the mall today with the ladies in his family.  He had been killing time with some male mall observations:

The smallest thing you say can carry so much weight. I was stalking outside Victoria's Secret as I do, and a chubby young girl walked out. She looked at me while I was looking at her and she blushed. Who knows what she thought I was thinking. She looked embarassed. So I said real loud, "Hey...nice shoes. You are kickin' ASS today." And she smiled and thanked me and strutted on down the road. I think I surprised her.
Jay noticed her.  Her body.  Her body language.  He made someone who probably didn't feel too good about herself that often feel a bit good.   Jay is a good man. 

I know how that chubby girl feels.  I am that chubby girl.  I am sure I know the feelings she feels. When I'm with my friends I'm the chubby girl.  Yeah, that's me. I'm that girl.   People notice my friends.  They don't notice me.  Oh, sure, they sometimes notice I'm tall.  But, quickly they will notice the beauty of those around me.  It's a really bizarre feeling.  It's so very hard to explain to someone who has never felt it.  To feel invisible.  People don't even realize they are doing it to me.  It's really quite interesting.  It's hurtful too.  Yeah, that. 

The more I don't run the more invisible I feel.  I'm trying to keep myself from disappearing.  I'm trying to swim.  Swim hard.  I'm biking.  But, it's not doing what running does for me.  Did for me.  The weight keeps creeping on.  I feel horrible.  I crawl in a little hole.  It's a vicious circle. I'm trying damn hard to keep my body moving.  I swear.  But, sometimes I get tired of trying.  Tired of hurting.  Just tired. 

On my ride today I looked at every body that passed me.  Really looked them.  All shapes.  All sizes.  Bodies in motion. You have to love bodies in motion.  Even if it's not the most perfect body.  It's moving.  For that you have to admire it. There's greatness in all that move their bodies after all:

 As I rode I passed a woman on a horse.  Talk about an amazing body.  The horse was majestic.  The size of it.  The muscles.  It was magnificent.    You truly have to be in awe of bodies like that as well.  Come on, if you have been watching the Olympics you have surely thought more than once "Wow, that's an amazing body".  How can you not? Men's swimming?  Yes please.  Women's beach volleyball?  My ass is so jealous. 

I won't ever be that.  I just won't.  I have the body I have.  It is what it is.  Sometimes it looks better than other times.  Right now it's not so good. But, I'll keep moving it.  Or try to anyway.  Some days I'll feel better about it.  But, most days, not so much. 

If you ever meet me, please don't tell me I'm pretty when I'm not.  Don't tell me I look good when I don't.  However, tell me that you like my shoes and I'm kicking ass.  

I'd like that.  That would be nice.