After having my sons I started running with the sole intention of losing the baby weight. Since then I’ve had a love/hate relationship with running. I ran a few 5Ks this spring and felt pretty good about myself, but then something inside of me changed and I started to question, “If I can run 3.1 miles, could I run 4? 5? Maybe a 10K?” Well, I wanted to find out. So that’s how it started, and I began to push myself like I never have before. I started running further and faster and when I was done, sweat pouring out of my body, hair drenched, I felt it – the ultimate reward: runner’s high. Don’t get me wrong, while I was running I was cursing under my breath, questioning why I was doing it, feeling nauseous, swatting at bugs, hating every second. But when I was done? Wow. It was worth every second of pain.
As I started to push myself further and further, I made the decision: I am going to run a half-marathon. Before I could give it a second thought, I signed up and committed myself to it. I made running a priority. I followed a training schedule and stuck to it, no matter what, which is quite the feat as a working mother of two, and completely impossible without a supportive husband (thanks honey!). I ran when it was 94 degrees and humid. I ran when it was raining. I ran before the sun came up just so I could get in the miles. I was training for a half-marathon. What? Who was this person? I wasn’t sure, but I kinda liked her. I was pretty impressed with her. When I looked down and saw her legs moving and sneakers pounding the pavement I thought “Huh. Look at that! A real runner! Who woulda thought!” (Certainly not me)
I was so caught up with training, I almost didn’t notice the side effect of the weight loss. I always had a “goal weight” in mind (don’t we all?) and last week got on the scale and guess what? You guys, I did it. For the first time in five years I was at my goal weight. I worked hard and I did it! Wahoo! I was on top of the world. There was no stopping me.
Unfortunately the Universe had something else in mind.
Saturdays are my “long runs.” This past Saturday I got up before the sun, silently pulled on my running clothes and snuck out of the door before anyone was awake. When I started running something didn’t feel quite right in my upper thigh. It was a different kind of discomfort than I usually feel. But this was all part of it, right? I can’t stop running for every ache and pain. I need to suck it up and push through it. So I did. I ran nine miles in mild discomfort, but I finished. About twenty minutes later, it hit me. That “mild discomfort” turned into real pain. A searing, excruciating pain in my groin (side note: I hate that word. It’s right up there with m-o-i-s-t). I couldn’t walk. Getting up and down stairs was torture. Forget picking up my boys. It’s ok though. I was going to wake up in the morning and the pain would be gone. It’s just a minor injury that will heal itself overnight. It had to. But the next day the pain was still there, and the day after that and the day after that. I had to admit I was really hurt.
What about my training? What about my goal of running a half marathon? What does this mean? Is this just a bump in the road or is this the end for me? I was angry. I saw others posting on Facebook about their amazing runs and I got even angrier. I felt sorry for myself. This isn’t fair. I was working so hard. I wanted it so badly. One minute I made the decision to give up, eat a pizza and drink a bottle of wine. The next minute I was researching rehab, determined to get back out there. I was so frustrated. I was down, discouraged, and utterly disappointed.
It’s been a few days now and the anger and self-pity have dissipated. I’m still down, but I’ve made the decision that I’m not out.
Listen, Universe, I want this. I am not going to give up.
I don’t know how this story ends. I want it to be a glorious comeback story, ending with me running past the finish line (in slow motion obviously), fists in the air, ‘Chariots of Fire’ playing, cameras flashing, the crowd chanting “Jess! Jess!”
The truth is I just don’t know.
(drawing by Christina Greene)