I am Ryan Hall.
No…not because I have his speedy gazelle-like stride…
(Because…let’s face it…if I was Ryan Hall…I’d have endorsements and big money wins at races…and a much better race PR in ALL THE RACES…of which…I have none of those things…)
…or that my coach is God…
I am Ryan Hall because I seem to be running less…running easier…and getting hurt doing it. Continuously hurt.
I blame winter. Really. Every injury that I’ve incurred has happened in December through February…and it’s been because I chose to run outside…on snow…on ice…and just managed to hit something wrong. That’s how I strained my Achilles back in December. That’s how I twisted my ankle last week too.
And that’s why I’m sitting out a race I chose to run today in honor of my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary. I wasn’t even bothering to train for it. I have been running on a treadmill for short distances, which is really no way to train, but the weather this year has been SO awful for running outside. But…I also have been dealing with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), so…sometimes I just need to be outside. It’s been a struggle this year. I feel like my running is really starting to falter. Not only do I keep going out and getting hurt, but I don’t feel light and fast like I used to. I just feel…like I’m really starting to slow down.
And it sucks. Not being able to run this morning…SUCKS! Big time. I’ve cried all week over the possibility that I might not be running. I made the trip anyway…with ice packs and KT Tape. I went to get my packet. I limped my way through it all. But last night…last night I knew…I knew that no matter what…that ankle was not going to be up to par. If I ran…I’d do further damage. It would put me out longer…perhaps forever.
And while it wasn’t an easy decision…while the tears are still flowing as I type this blog…I know it was the right decision. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel like a disappointment and a failure. I do. Honestly. I do. And my confidence in my abilities and my running is more than crumbling at the moment. I’m down. I’m depressed. And I feel like I can’t…I won’t…come back from this.
And then…I find a quote from one of my running idols:
So, maybe this is just a bump in the road. It feels more like a sinkhole, to be honest. But…you know…I can sit here and feel miserable about it or I can do what I can do…it might not be running…but something…and focus on moving on…to the next thing. Sure, I can be disappointed…and I am. Sure, I can feel like a failure…and I do. But…I can’t let this defeat me. I can’t let this define me. I know I can run. I may not be the fastest or the strongest. I might eat too much gluten-free pizza and ice cream. But I’m a runner, dammit. And for a 5’3″ girl with short legs…I’m pretty damn fast when I’m on top of my game.
Life isn’t always fair. In fact…it more often isn’t. And life comes at you fast. Life is unpredictable. Life…can honestly suck at times. And it’s in these moments of darkness that you realize…there is a silver lining. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It may not seem like it…you may not see it…but it’s there.
My good friend, Jesse Hall, said this to me just now:
There is always another race, another time, another horizon. What there is not is another you, therefore there are people who look up to you and see a brave woman. You have taught us today that you do your best, and sometimes do your best is not doing anything. Sometimes it requires time to heal.
His words mean so much to me. I literally started crying all over again…but for different reasons. He’s right. I can sit here and feel miserable about myself and the situation…or I can continue to inspire those who tell me in small ways that I inspire them. I’d rather be the brave, strong woman who returned to race another day.
It is just all a matter of perspective.
It’s still not easy. And I’m still crying over it. But…it won’t define me.
However…I will be upset about it. I will shed tears over it. I will not let myself think I am weak for crying and feeling disappointed. It’s natural and normal. But I will come back. In time.
Dear driver in the white SUV pulling into the Dairy Queen on Bardstown Road yesterday morning:
Thank you for providing my little band of jolly runners with something to milk for the slow, steady, and careful 8 miles we pounded out on the roads of Louisville. The sidewalks were sheer ice. The roads were mostly clear, save for some slick spots and black ice. We found those though…either before we tread over them…or during. Whichever came first.
The fact of the matter was…when you attempted to take our jolly band of runners out with your big-ass SUV, then proceeded toward the Diary Queen drive-thru, only to pause to roll down the window opposite your side of the car to scream out the window for the five of us to “get out of the damn road” and then proceeded to inform us that we are all dumbasses…well…our reply of “THANK YOU” was not misplaced.
Because for the rest of the run…if we hit ice or stumbled upon it accidentally, the word “dumbass” was always brought up, with laughter, twinkles in our eyes, and maybe a friendly elbow to the person running beside us.
I personally thank you for this comment…because I have been miserable these days. Seasonal Affective Disorder has not let up…not yet. I am trying as hard as I can to find more reasons to smile. And, to be honest, I almost didn’t go out for this run. Too many factors that could end badly. I learned in December last year…ice and I don’t get along. But, my roomie insisted I go, because I’d enjoy running with people…even out in the cold and on treacherous paths, than I would running on my own in a gym.
She was right.
This was the second week in a row that I was out and running with a group. And I’ve found my smile again with each one. My speed is still lacking…but at least I’m getting out. Even if, at times, I feel like I don’t want to. This has been good for me. For at least an hour, I leave my troubles, my depression, my doubts behind. For a moment…I am a runner…with my group of friends who know how to lift me up and chase away the shadows.
Dealing with SAD has sucked. I hate feeling lost and defeated and so unlike myself. I hate feeling like I’ve lost fitness and speed. And…honestly…I have. My weight is WAY up from what it was for Chicago. My legs aren’t firing as fast as they used to. And, honestly, this breaks me apart. I struggle every morning with it. But I keep on training. Strength training, spinning, and, yes…running…mostly inside…no speed work.
My achilles is better. It is! Happiness. But I ran in old shoes yesterday on the ice…and now my ankle is twinging at me. I am so done with winter. The negative digits, single digits, and below freezing temperatures have really hindered me this year. Coming back from injury is hard enough…coming back to weather that is not meant or safe for running is even worse. This has been my worst winter yet. And all these components are really weighing me down (literally according to my bathroom scale).
Sometimes…I just don’t feel like myself…and I don’t like the way I feel. So many friends have texted, called, invited me out, messaged me, had dinner with me, or just checked in on me. And that makes me feel really warm and fuzzy. Some I missed calls, but returned. Some have given me hugs. Some have just let me talk it out. It’s so hard for me to open up about this because it makes me feel weak. It makes me feel lost. It makes me feel…so unlike me that it scares me.
The days are finally getting longer. The air…warming up…a little. So…hopefully…just hopefully…I’ll have more time and more opportunities to set out on these roads with my friends at my side…with more than one reason to smile.
And, if we’re lucky…a fast food, super-sizing, jackass to give us a little comedy relief…but calling us all dumbasses…when we were really doing the safer thing for everyone.
And…if I’m lucky…maybe I’ll just learn to love myself and what I can do again. But I think that’s going to take some time.