Sunrise doesn't last all morning,
a cloudburst doesn't last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
But it's not always going to be this grey --George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
When I first decided to run this marathon, I knew I wanted to “test my mettle,” as they say. I could never have anticipated just how much of a test that goal was to become.
Tomorrow marks six months since my mother died. Some moments, it feels like eons ago, or someone else’s life entirely. But most times, it feels like I just spoke to her yesterday. Sometimes, I am just overwhelmed by the crush of sadness. Sometimes, I want to scream at her in anger. Some mornings, I wake up so sad, having had yet another dream where I see her but can’t talk to her, and I don’t even want to get out of bed. I just want to stay there, sink further and further into the comfort of my bed with Jeremy and cry until I can’t anymore.
A few days after the funeral, I was struggling to bring myself to do anything. I hadn’t been eating, or sleeping and I felt like I just couldn’t face the day. I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was call my mom and tell her some mundane detail about some mundane workday, or talk about the baseball season that had just started, anything. All I wanted was to tell her I loved her.
Instead, I got out of bed and went for a run.
And just like I couldn’t have anticipated the test I was about to endure, I couldn’t possibly have anticipated the extent to which running became my means of coping.
It was right around that time that I first emailed Josh to ask if he would be my coach for the marathon. I had made promises to myself and I didn’t want to give those up, but I was afraid that I couldn’t do it on my own. I knew I needed to be accountable to someone if I was going to get through training and be able to hold my head up and see this through to the end. I told Josh how I was feeling like some days it was just too much for me to handle. He was receptive and sensitive to what I was going through. He encouraged me when I needed it, which was pretty frequently. As soon as I was able to, I joined the Tuesday/Thursday Night Torture Group (Josh’s speedwork group). The first time I ran with the group was the hardest I had run in weeks. And when I got home that night, I had a smile on my face for what felt like the first time in ages. I almost felt like myself again.
Over the next weeks, I got to know more members of the group. I felt, in those first few miserable days after she died, that I was at my best when I was around other people. And here, I’d found myself with a group of people dedicated to bringing out the best in themselves and cheering each other on every step of the way. I needed that support. I needed that encouragement. Whether they knew it or not, they were helping me through the hardest time of my life.
There were, and still are, many many moments and days where I’m overwhelmed. But the more I ran, the more I felt that I was putting distance between me and my sadness. The more I ran, the more amazing friendships I formed with the other runners I had met. The more miles I ran, the more I remembered who I was and what I wanted for myself. The more I ran, the more I discovered strength I never knew I had. The more I ran, the more I realized that though my mom was gone, I was still here, and that my life was full of amazingly supportive, loving and giving people and how lucky I was to have each and every one of them. There are many who were a part of my life before I lost my mom, and many who’ve come to my life since then. I will never be able to properly express my gratitude to them all.
For all the phone calls, hugs, smiles, laughs, and shoulders to cry on. For the miles run, and the adventures planned. For the memories shared, and the ones we’ve yet to make. For cheering me on. For being my friends, when I needed you the most.
I had said awhile back that I didn’t want to ascribe any meaning to my marathon that it didn’t need to have. But I was wrong. With just over a week to go, I realize now that when I cross that finish line, the first words I say will be, “Mommy, I did it.” But when I cross the starting line, I will say, “Thank you.” For my friends. I would never have gotten to the start without you.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
My ITB issues continued through most of last week. It never felt terrible, but I could feel tightness in my knee right at the points where the ITB connects. By Thursday, I felt good enough to run, so i joined Josh and Matt for a fun, rainy tempo run in Central Park. My knee felt a little tight the whole time, but never so bad that I felt I needed to stop, or like I couldn't just work through it.
When I woke up Friday morning, it was pretty sore. Just tight and stiff and altogether not right. I had a 20+ miler scheduled for the next day, but I just figured that as I walked around throughout the day, it would loosen up. On my hilly walk to work, my knee was just not cooperating. After work, I was heading to my cousin's apartment in Manhattan, and as I walked up the stairs to the subway, all of a sudden, like running into a giant blinking neon cosmic billboard, I was in excruciating pain.
Without hyperbole, I thought my knee was going to explode. I literally stopped in my tracks, on the subway stairs, gasping for air and clutching my knee. People stopped to ask if I was alright and I just waved them on, unable to speak through the silent screaming. Rather stupidly, I pulled myself up the rest of the stairs and got onto the next train. When I got to my cousin's apartment, I could barely walk and fell through her apartment door begging her for an icepack. When she put the icepack on my knee, the pain was again horrific. Even just touching my knee caused more pathetic silent screaming. I sent Josh a couple of frantic "ZOMG MY KNEE IS EXPLODING HAAAALP!" text messages, and he called me back a few minutes later to talk me off the ledge.
When I could walk again, I left my cousin's and met Jeremy for a movie (FYI, Red is awesome. Go see it). When we left the theater, my knee felt okay. Sore, but okay.
And...when I woke up Saturday morning, it was like nothing had ever happened. My knee was fine. No pain WHATSOEVER. I went to see Erika perform in an opera and had nibbles and drinks with her and Baker afterwards, and nothing. Not a glimmer of an owwie. As I ran errands during the day, I walked up and down some hills, flights of stairs, in and out of subways and buses. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
I'm still taking a few days of rest, just a precaution but am very perplexed as to The Mysterious Case of the Exploding Knee. I'm hoping that whatever was wrong is now right and when I go for a run on Tuesday, nothing else will explode. Fingers crossed that I don't spontaneously combust.
Monday, October 11, 2010
For the past month, things have been going well. I've started a new career, been running again, and making progress I am really proud of. The plantar fasciitis hasn't bothered me. I've become faster and stronger than I thought I would. I ran my first 20+ mile run, and finished smiling. Yesterday, at the Staten Island Half Marathon, I set an 8 minute PR. I've hit a small bump in the road. My ITB is giving me a bit of trouble and I'm not happy about it. But, remarkably, I'm not freaking out. WIth less than 4 weeks to go until the marathon, I know I've put in the work. Yesterday, I proved that to myself. I ran hard, but comfortably the whole time, and exceeded my own expectations. I've been icing, Adviling, foam rolling and scheduled a massage for myself later in the day. I'm taking care of it. If I have to take a few days off, or even a week to make sure I'm recovered, I know it won't be the end of the world. I'm pretty positive, at this point, that I can achieve my goal at the marathon. Which, coming from me, with my black belt in the neurotic arts is a pretty big statement to make.
I've worked hard. I'll get to where I want to be.