Friday, January 6, 2017

sitting this one out

For the past three years on this night, I have checked the weather 582 times, tried to remember which pair of running tights is my favorite, debated how many tops I need to wear and spent 30 minutes digging through my closet for my favorite glove and mitten combo--all for a 2-3 mile run.  For runners in Cincinnati, tomorrow is like the beginning of Advent.  The time of preparing ourselves and waiting oh-so-patiently for the coming of the Flying Pig Marathon.

But this year, it's starting without me.  I'm currently sitting on the couch, sipping my second beer, and intending to sleep in well-past 5:30am tomorrow morning.  Last June when the doc told me I needed to hang up my running shoes for a little bit, I never imagined that seven months later I would still be side-lined.  That I would still be laying in bed on Saturday mornings, listening to the chatter of the city's running groups as their route takes them past my building.  That I could eat or drink whatever I wanted on Friday nights and stay up late.  That I would still be in pain.  That I would sit out a second training season and that I would go through the grieving process once again. 

I really hate waiting around to run in the cold anyway...

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be pain-free and able to walk unrestricted again.  I look at my running shoes that haven't moved from the bottom of the pile in months and think how neglected they must feel.  I drive through the city and miss being out in it in the early mornings or on clear nights with my friends as we gut it out together, pushing and supporting one another. 

It's not just the running that I've lost though.  It's my feeling of self-worth, of accomplishment, of belonging.  It's the discipline and determination that running requires and that I've let myself slack on.  When I'm training I eat well, I meal prep, I plan my workouts and hangouts, I get enough sleep, I take care of my legs.  When I'm not training, those things don't happen.  I can't remember the last time I went to the gym or got on my foam roller and there have been many weeks that I've made-do with what is in my pantry and freezer and skipped the grocery entirely.  I've got loads more time without all that working out, but I seem to be constantly behind on my chores and schoolwork, as I "rest" in the little nest I've created for myself on the couch and binge-watch tv shows. 

The truth is that running makes me better.  I'm a better friend, teacher, daughter and citizen.  I can deal with my life better.  I spend more time with my thoughts and I take better care of myself.  I plan better, manage my time better, prioritize better.  I make more plans with my friends because I'm good and pleasant company.  It's not that I'm a bad person when I'm not running, but I can't seem to manage to get my shit together, and when I do, I can't keep it together. 

I'm also looking to the future and dreading the hours I'll have to put in a the gym to rebuild the muscles that I've let atrophy these past months, so that I can run stronger and faster than before.  I've done it before, so I know just how hard it will be, but I also know what it feels like to toe the line of that first race back and that is what I have to keep sight of.  One thing is damn sure... that first Sunday in May I will be the loudest and most obnoxious fangirl out there on the course, cheering for all those folks who are crazy enough to sign up for a race that starts at 6AM on a Sunday morning. 

One day I'll get back here and it will be the sweetest victory.

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