It’s been seven weeks since I stopped in my tracks at Hellgate.
At the time, I didn’t have any good reason to quit, other than the powerful voice in my head that told me…or rather ordered me…to STOP running. I knew with every fiber in my being that I needed to listen. And now, almost two months later, I do not regret the decision for a moment.
See, the thing is (and pardon my french), there were a fuck-ton of things wrong with me. I was out of balance: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I was not happy and I was not healthy. I thought running could cure both, and so I poured my self into my training….only to end up in the same cycle of self-sabotage that had become way too comfortable.
My adrenals were wrecked. I was exhausted and stressed out and struggling to stay afloat. I gave up drinking for awhile because I realized my evening beer/wine/mojito was looking WAY too much like a life-preserver. Almost every second of every day I was wracked by guilt and CERTAIN that I was letting down everyone in my life.
But here’s the thing. Even though I am tough and stubborn. I am also flexible and resilient. More importantly, I have a strong motivation to be happy. I am generally a positive person, and I approach life with a sense of “everything will work out and its all going to be OK”.
However, I waited too long for things to resolve on their own. No amount of training or fitness was going to enable me to keep moving forward…on the race course, or in my life. For YEARS, I neglected the mental side. I could no longer think clearly, I no longer had the heart to move. I no longer had the courage to try.
I was stuck somewhere in OZ. A set of useless ruby slippers on my feet and an unknown path before me. A part of me desperately wanted to go back to the familiar mountain trails…the Winter training cycle for Springtime ultras. A big Summer or Fall goal Race. But I knew I needed to rest….deeply, thoroughly rest….and trust the voice that was guiding me away from the “comfortable” world of ultra-racing.
And so I slept….for three weeks from Hellgate to New Year’s….I slept and I rested and then I slept some more. I rallied and put on a good face for Christmas, but I truly hibernated during Winter Break.
I asked for help. With a trembling voice I made a call to my doctor. I found the courage to talk to specialists. I started medication. We experimented with dosages. I met a therapist. As my body rested and as the drugs calmed my anxiety, I began to heal.
I spent time with my family. Cooking, playing card games. Night Sledding. Normal, low-key types of activities that parents do all the time with their kids…but would have been impossible for the me a month ago. As the tension has begun to ease, I find myself laughing at their jokes. I am able to pick up the slack so that Jimmy can have some weekend fun with his guy friends.
There is still a small part of me that is stressed about my (lack-of) mileage. The snow storms and days off of school wrecked my “training” last week. Basketball games are going to monopolize my weekends for the next month at least. But I am learning to roll with it and go easy on myself. I will devote the school hours to maintaining fitness and start spending weekends with the family. I was even able to escape for a bit last Monday to try snowshoeing. A few hours of hard work on Skyline with Sophie and Jo was a tonic to the soul!
BUT….. here’s the best part. I find that I really LIKE my kids. Instead of being a stressed-out basket case, I am FINALLY able to enjoy spending time with them. Emma and I have really had a lot of fun together. Its as if just being physically present at home has made them feel safer and secure.
I MISS the mountains. I want to be running again. It KILLS me to scroll through Facebook and Strava on the weekend and see pics of epic training runs and mega miles. But I trust that when the time is right, I will be back on the trail.
For now, I am exactly where I need to be.