Sunday, March 13, 2011

Out of Commission (Part 1) (October 2009)

Four times around the lake at North Park, in the North Hills of Pittsburgh took me 2 hours, 43 minutes and 36 seconds to run exactly 20 miles. A personal best! An 8:10 minute per mile average. I limped to my car afterwards, feeling that “something” was wrong with my shin, and I called my husband to tell him how well I had done. Ignoring the pain, I told myself I’m going to qualify for the Boston Marathon. At this rate, I can even cruise the last 10K at a 10 minute mile and still qualify. Awesome. (What the fuck is wrong with my leg?)

I’ve been out of commission for the past two weeks. I’m supposed to run the Philadelphia Marathon in 3 weeks, but the tremendous pain and swelling in my right shin and ankle has not subsided, bringing my training to a standstill. No more 6 mile evening runs through Mount Lebanon, no more 20 mile runs through Pittsburgh’s South Hills, or around the lake at North Park. No more catching up to runners in front of me just to see if I can. No more victory. No more accomplishment. No more Me Time.

Running had given me a world of my own, a place I could go to process, download. A place where the world around me shuts off and the only thing I see is the world inside my head. Revelations and conclusions to be borne. It all comes to a halt. Except the questions. They continue to bounce around on the inside of my skull, haunting me, getting louder as they demand the answers. Answers I cannot give because the engine is incapacitated. The mental lubricant achieved through running now sits stagnant, cold. Waits and longs for that crisp fall day, blue sky the color of Azure, orange and red leaves still clinging to life as they hold fast to their branches.

The weather outside is perfect for running, crisp and clear. Yet here I sit, sloth-like, disgusting, disgusted. The beautiful day wastes away before me as I lay sideways, going in and out of consciousness. Bad TV serenades me, lulls me to sleep. The front door remains closed. I don’t want to see the beauty on the other side of it. The light of day fades to night, and I am still in the same position.

Frustration builds along with, laziness, self-doubt, and worst of all, self-pity. I need to run not only to stay fit, and to remain competitive, but more importantly, for my mental well-being. My source of self-worth and self-esteem diminishes before me as I sit, motionless, unable to do much more than lay on a couch. The one thing I am good at, the one thing that gives me a sense of accomplishment, the one thing that says to him, “I am better than you think I am,” suddenly slips away. To be able to do something that most people can’t or won’t even attempt to do is the only thing I have that makes me not feel like a loser. It’s the only proof I have.

Get over yourself, I say. It is a hiccup. “You’ll do this and you know it. When has pain ever stopped you from anything before?” It’s my way of giving myself a pep-talk. Calling myself a loser forces me prove to myself that I am not.