CAUTION: If you are feeling remotely down today. Please read no further. Come back tomorrow.
Wednesday. Well if you came here looking for wisdom, sorry to disappoint — just a lot of unresolved questions hanging out in this corner. Come back next week if you need uplifting, right now this is a boggy blog. A murky mudpile of misery.
Boy oh boy what a crappy week this has been fitness-wise. Caught a cold, my energy level has been low and my morale has been even lower. Yesterday was a culmination of all of the above.
I went to my physical therapist yesterday she taped up my knees for my run. I wanted to do just an easy 5 miles and concentrate on speed. She told me to concentrate on running on the outside of my feet. I made it through 3.5 miles and I gave up. Yep, you heard me, gave up, quit, threw in the towel. All of my months of positive reinforcement out the window. I am a quitter.
In retrospect, I guess it was hard for me to move with the tape on my knees and it caused me to be quite tense. My knees didn’t give out, instead I got a nice pulled muscle on the inside of my left calf. Then my right ankle gave out. I have run through MUCH worse pain than this. Why yesterday was the day I chose to quit, I don’t know. I completed one loop of the reservoir and halfway around I stopped to stretch and I just filled up with tears. I have been putting so much pressure on myself for this ½ marathon that I just kind of snapped. I guess I thought I was going to have some miraculous cure with the taped knees — it was so hard to be relaxed with that limited range of motion (and my motion is limited to begin with).
Everybody else is doing ½ marathons all over the place. Why am I having such difficulty? Just yesterday I got an email from someone that said “sorry I missed you at practice, decided to do the Brooklyn ½ marathon at the last minute it was great fun.” I was so mad. Here I am trying so hard to get to the 10 mile marker without crumbling and people are deciding at the last minute to do the half for ‘fun.’ Why am I working so hard? Why don’t I just go have a pizza? Why don’t I just go play tennis 5 days a week and let all this go? Maybe I’m just not meant to do this? Can’t I just pull a blanket over my head? I can just put the weight back on, order in some Pad Thai, curl up with a movie and be done with it.
I tried to conjure up some of my favorite quotes, draw inspiration from the blog. I tried to think about yesterday Arnold Schwarzenegger and not quitting. Screw him, I thought, I don’t care about Arnold or Buddha or Mahatma Ghandi or Rocky or anyone. I want to be pain free and this stinks! I made it half way around the second lap of the reservoir and just left, tears streaming down my cheeks like a 10 year. Very mature, I kept thinking to myself. I realized this was not me and that something else was going on, I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
I’m, sure much of yesterday’s episode was hormonal. I shorten workouts all the time. Somedays I have a good workout, somedays I have a bad one. Why was this one so emotional? Partly hormonal, partly pressure. I’m feeling two weeks to the ½ and I’m not anywhere near on schedule. I’m getting worse, not better. My freaking orthotics aren’t ready yet and I begged them to have them for me as soon as possible. If they are not ready tomorrow I will be so mad. But what am I mad about? One race? One ½ marathon? What’s the big deal? Walk it — lot’s of people walk it. I don’t want to walk it! I deserve to run it.
I can’t remember what magazine it was that I was flipping through the other day but there was an article about a mountain climber who had just climbed Mt. Everest. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) if you come to Mt. Everest expecting to enjoy the climb, you’ve come to the wrong Mountain. This is a hard, grueling and dangerous experience. It’s not about going out for a nice little hike. I know what he means. Granted, this is not Mt. Everest, but this is a lot of work and I feel I’m not getting anywhere. Ironman? Who am I kidding. I can’t do two loops.
Even if it is hormonal, I want to understand exactly what I am feeling. There are a ton of feelings and emotions running around in me including:
Humility. Realizing I’m not 20 anymore. Realizing that body will NOT do whatever I tell it to do.
Regret. Regret that I didn’t start trying this 20 years ago. Why did it take me so long to get started?
Defeat. Like I’ve studying hard all semester and when it comes time to take the final my pen breaks and spills ink all over my completed exam.
Surrender. I just want to say to the universe, okay you win, I won’t do the ½ marathon. I’ll flunk at St. Anthony’s. There, are you happy?
Anger. Hey Guardian Angel of Sports! What’s the deal??? Last week it was so all important that I go out and get that pair of running shoes, for what? To give me bad knees and ankles? I don’t get it.
Exhaustion. I’m tired and I want to take my ball and go home. I want to go back to the world of tennis where I am already accomplished and I don’t have to feel like the rookie for three years in a row. I want to be the big fish in the little pond again. I don’t want to be the minnow anymore — this sucks. I want to be the shark.
Optimism. Nope not a shred of it. Don’t feel like finding it either. I just feel like wallowing in self-pity.
Did anyone see Paula Rutledge collapse on the side of the road during the marathon at the Olympics? She just sunk down on the side of the road sobbing into her hands. Everyone left her alone — nothing you could do. I hate the fact that I am comparing myself to Paula Rutledge (because I don’t remotely deserve that — she tried 1,000 times harder than I am trying) but that’s how I feel. Utter dejection, utter failure. Leave me alone on the side of the road to die.
But why? Why? Why? Why all of these feelings over a couple of races? It’s not like there won’t be a hundred more. Ah, well maybe there won’t be a hundred more. Maybe I’ll never run again. If I can’t run the ½, what makes me think I can run the full? If I can’t run the full what makes me think that I could ever do the ironman? Particularly if I am a, gasp, QUITTER? There’s the evil word. There’s the crux of this. I quit. I gave up. That is something I just can reconcile in myself. I could have kept going, the pain was not that bad.
Okay, okay even I am starting to realize how ridiculously out of proportion I have blown this whole thing. One bad day, one bad run, one bad race. Hell, I’ve had plenty of bad races. Geesh if you think about it, I haven’t had a single good race yet — what am I whining about? I’m not a super star, I’m not Paul Rutledge. I’m not even Rosie Ruiz — at least she was creative and found a subway to get her to the finish line. What am I so upset about?
I don’t want to let my friends down either. All the people who support me and cheer for me. I want to do well — why won’t my body cooperate!??!?!
I ran the doubles clinic this morning down at the tennis club for my friend the tennis pro who had to be out of town. It went well. I think everyone had a good time and I managed to run 3 courts for 2 hours. I thought that would perk me up but it hasn’t. Big deal — I already know I can play tennis — I know I can teach it too.
As I sit here I realize the only thing that will make me feel better is to pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again (as the song goes.) I will be miserable as long as I consider myself a quitter. I have to keep trying even though I don’t want to. Other people don’t put themselves through all of this, why am I? It’s a race, it’s stupid, why bother? I realize it is not about the race. I don’t care if I finish the race in an 11 or a 14. I care about finishing it period. I care about not quitting.
It’s like tennis. I don’t mind losing as long as I didn’t give up. There is nothing worse than giving up. Tanking is a dirty word. I don’t mind not doing well at the 1/2 marathon, I mind giving up trying. I mind that I just didn’t walk the rest of the mileage yesterday. I mind that I let the devil on my left shoulder beat the angel on my right. One for the bad guys.
On the news this morning they were talking about Johnny Cochrane (he died yesterday of a brain tumor). I guess he knew he had the brain tumor since July but kept fighting right until the end. Some other lawyer who knew Mr. Cochrane was being interviewed. The interviewer said “but he knew it was terminal, right?” The lawyer said, “Johnny Cochrane didn’t believe anything was terminal – -he fought right until the end.” And me? Me? I couldn’t do one more stinking loop? Christopher Reeve didn’t give up and look at the odds he faced. Right until the end he went out kicking and fighting. That’s an athlete. That’s a hero.
I guess the question is how do I pull myself up and start all over? I guess I start at the begining. Lacing up my sneakers and showing up to practice tonight. We’ll see how it goes from there. I won’t look that far ahead. Today, I’ll just concentrate on today and try to make it through until tomorrow. No guarantees beyond that. I’ll try to cut myself a break and say woo hoo even though I mean boo hoo.
They say showing up for a match is 90%. The other 10% must be sticking around until it is finished.
No quotes today — I don’t feel like it.