Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Are You Crying?

I am hearing voices again.  Well, maybe not voices in the plural sense, but, darn it, Tom Hanks keeps yelling at me.  "Are you crying?!  There's no crying in ultra-running!" he heartlessly screams in my face.  It wasn't until I reread several of my posts that I realized just how many tears I've shed around running for the last couple months.  I have really outdone myself the last couple weeks with my latest injury that has caused my training to come to a screeching halt.  If ultra-runners had stage-names like strippers or derby girls, mine would be Waterworks or Weepy Willow.  So what's with all the tears?  It really is rather strange that something that brings me such joy can turn me into a blubbering basket case.

I am a recovering self-proclaimed micromanaging control freak.  For the most part, this has served me well in life.  As my wise life coach told me three years ago, it was time for a different chapter of my life.  I needed to relinquish the facade of control that I felt I had over the universe.  It was time to wrap my carefully honed, overly-utilized perfectionism in a beautiful box, fasten a coordinating bow, attach matching helium balloons with pretty curly ribbon, thank the contents of the box for helping me out all these years and ever so lovingly and gently, release it into the universe where it belongs.  I can't tell you how cathartic that moment was.  Pressure was off.  I was a changed woman.  Like any addiction, I wasn't "cured".  I would fall off the wagon from time to time and easily slip back into those old habits and patterns before I was even aware of it.   This desire for control usually shows up tenfold when I find myself eye to eye with a formidable challenge or obstacle.

I love and thrive on a good challenge.  It makes me feel alive.  In these respects, running has been both a blessing and a curse for me.  It's a blessing because it's brought me such joy.  For the most part, I have fun when I run.  I feel great, strong, alive and ready to embrace life.  So many wonderful friendships, opportunities have arisen from my interest in running.  It keeps me physically healthy and allows me to eat what I want, when I want without counting calories.  When I have a tough day, all I need to do is lace up my running shoes and hit the trails.  Before I know it, I've blown off some steam, regained perspective and reached that lovely blissed out feeling.

It's a curse because it's brought me such pain.  Every friggin' time I train for something, I suffer some annoying repetitive stress injury.  The physical pain is one thing, but the mental anguish of having my carefully crafted race goals and running regimen sputter and threaten to dissolve altogether is a whole other can of worms.  The latter is so much for difficult to deal with.  I no longer have control over my running domain as I once thought.  If something so good for me keeps hurting me, why do I keep coming back for more.  It almost seems like battered wife syndrome.  Perhaps it was time to accept the fact that running doesn't agree with my body and find something more forgiving.  Ultimately I keep coming back to control.  Running is immune to my controlling powers.  Try as I may, nothing that I do will guarantee a good run or race. 

So what the hell do I do with all this wisdom?  I've been sidelined from running for the last two and a half weeks.  In nine days, I am slated to run 31 miles, which under the best circumstances would be a stretch.  Last night I ran five miles, the longest that I've run for a little over two weeks and woke up with a foot that just might have been more pissed at me than I was at it.  Do I suck it up, hope for the best, suck down a handful of Advil and go for it even at the risk of further damage?  Do I cut my losses and not even show up to the start line and enjoy the rest of my summer unscathed?  I still don't know what I'll do.  I'm not in control.  Time will tell.  What I do know is that the time for crying is over.  I can't believe none of you dope slapped me after hearing/reading my many self-absorbed laments.  My imaginary Tom Hanks was the one to rouse me and set my mental wheels spinning.

I keep reading all these amazing quotes.  The resounding one for me is "Encourage your hopes, not your fears."  That is where I am at this exact minute.  I am setting aside my fears and encouraging the hope that I will show up at the start line come race day, have an amazing journey and cross that finish line with a smile on my face and satisfaction in my heart.  When I want to cry or even whine, I will remember Amy Palmiero-Winter's heart, determination and drive at Western States 100.  There she became the first amputee to complete this challenging race.  There's no crying in ultra-running?  Tom, I'm afraid that you just might be right.  Crying keeps you from keeping a stiff upper lip, looking obstacles and challenges squarely in the eye and giving them every ounce of heart you have. 

To read about the amazing Amy Palmiero-Winter click on the link below:

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That was a hard one to write I'm sure. You have developed this deep inner strength that has held you strong all your life, removed the means of focusing that strength (control), discovered a new means of tapping into that strength (running) and are now through hard wisdom discovering how to tap into it with neither control or running.

    Every day I discover new ways in which you are growing and showing yourself and others how to take on life on life's terms. Whether you lace up those shoes for SOB or not, since you can't fully control how you heal, you have already succeeded. Ultras aren't about a particular race or event. They are about finding a new way to interact with life - deliberately tackling all obstacles the best you can (even if it means crawling in the dirt) and blazing down glorious trails with the sun on your shoulders and strength flowing through you.

    I absolutely hope to see you smiling as you cross the finish line at SOB in 10 days because I know how much that would mean to you. Don't worry about training between now and then, focus on healing and resting. As for dumping tons of vitamin I into your system for race day - DON'T! A couple is fine, but folks that take too many and do endurance runs are the ones who have had kidney failure issues.