A reflection post.
Today I stood outside in the sun for over four hours. I stood and cheered as thousands of runners raced past. It was an emotional morning. I cheered for runners at the beginning of the journey, near the middle, and near the end. I got to see runners pumped, fledgling, and defeated. I saw them triumph, I saw their pain.
In 2009, I barely made it to the finish line of this race. I had fallen down a flight of stairs about six weeks prior to the race, not that I was in peak physical performance before then, and hurt myself. This was not my first injury, and it would not be my last. However, there was something inside of me that kept me going.
When I reached mile 8 of this race, I was near tears. By mile 9, I was looking for a medic. I sat, I iced my back, and then with ice wrapped to my back with plastic wrap, I walked. The last three miles were some of the slowest and most painful in my life. I cried. I felt alone. And I was so determined to finish what I had started.
Before I got to the finish line, I saw a woman behind me. She waved me down. She said she had been following me for the last couple of miles. That she had wanted to give up but she saw me and she knew if I could do it, so could she. We both attempted to run the last few feet to the finish. We wanted to finish strong.
December of 2009, I completed my second half. I felt strong. I was faster. I wasn’t able to run the full race but even walking, I was proud. I shaved 30 minutes off my time. I knew I was only going to get stronger.
One week later I injured my leg. I spent 2010 trying to recover from this non-running injury (if you are reading this, get your vitamin D levels checked, just trust me). I was planning on running a marathon in October where there was also to be a wedding. Then I planned on walking that marathon. And finally, on doctor’s orders, I was sidelined and cheered. I was happy to be there, but frustrated because I felt like there was more I could have done.
2011 brought on a year of discovery. Injuries from the past were beginning to heal but I had managed to put on so much weight from lack of activity and fear of injury, that becoming active again was difficult. I had lost motivation. I wasn’t eating right, I wasn’t trying to become healthier. I signed up for a half-marathon, with the hope that this would motivate me to get active. To try to recapture what I had felt two years earlier. But internal medical struggles, and my own nonchalance about my health kept me from training properly and fueling per my medical needs.
I started that race strong. But before I had even hit the 5k mark, my stomach was screaming. And as the race went on, I searched for a way to catch a ride back. By the 6th mile, I was crouched on the sidelines, trying not to give up.
After hobbling two more miles, and taking a number of breaks, my stomach finally felt better, but now old structural injuries were flaring because I had been compensating for the digestive pain. However, at this point I wasn’t going to quit. I hobbled through freezing rain and tears to the finish line. I finished and there wasn’t anyone left there to cheer for me. But I finished.
So today, I stayed. I stayed until the vehicle escorting the last three participants passed me. I cheered and I screamed. I knew the frustration in the eyes of those who had started strong and finished. I celebrated the triumph of their completion. I hope they will be able to celebrate it as well.
I am just two months away from that same race that was both my triumph and my defeat. I signed up again because I knew I needed to prove to myself that I can finish strong. But I haven’t done a single training run. I have been taking cardio classes to build my stamina, but my feet and back cry from all of the weight I have put on. I am constantly struggling between motivation and defeat.
It’s hard to get back on the horse. It’s incredibly hard to know what it was like to fly, and feel like you can barely crawl. This year, I may not participate in the race. If I am not ready, I will not go. But today motivated me to try. Because if the people crossing the finish line can do it, then dammit, so can I.