I’ve spent the last couple of months doing a lot of the things I’d been missing during training. Reading books and sitting at the pool. A yoga class or two. Seeing friends and sleeping in on a Saturday. All the small things we willingly sacrifice in the relentless pursuit of a goal. I thought that I would look forward to having a little bit of flexibility back into my life as this training cycle pushed my personal tolerance level of busyness. Now that I have had that time and space I find myself in a different type of discomfort.
I’ve been telling myself and others that I don’t need to decide what’s next just yet. That maybe I’ll do a half later in the fall, maybe a 5k here and there to test my fitness. Honestly, it was more about what I thought I should be saying rather than what I actually believed. The idea of another all-consuming ultra training cycle sounded exhausting, but I couldn’t get excited about training for anything shorter either. The summer weather conditions here in NC are a daily reminder of why I chose to train through the winter and spring, and are keeping me inside with the AC when I should be running. But the weather is just a convenient excuse.
It was clear after a self-pitying rant on my Instagram story that things were coming to a head. Kind words from several friends and a frank chat with Nora helped me realize what was going on. Post-race blues, sure. But that wasn’t all. I can't keep life at arm's length anymore.
I keep telling myself that I will feel differently when Fall finally arrives. Come September I found myself anxiously anticipating Fall, which is quite the 180 from this time last year. What I’ve come to realize as the month flew by is the truth behind why I want to embrace fall with open arms. It isn’t to fall back in love with the things that used to make this time of year so magical for me. It is so that I can throw myself headlong into training again, without as much of the summer suffering, so that I can stop feeling again. Stop thinking about anything extraneous to training and basic existence.
Mark’s transition day is coming and I can already feel grief building up in the depths of me. I want to be deep into a training cycle come November 15 so that I can exhaust myself in some other less painful way. I haven’t found meaning and purpose in my life outside of training. I just haven’t. I struggle with why I am still here. Work is unfulfilling and that is the other big demand on my time besides running. One of those two things need to mean something to me or I will just slowly slip away.
I realize that this epiphany of sorts comes with questions. Additional signs. It asks if I need to get back to therapy. If I need to learn how to experience my grief without being overwhelmed by it. It points out that any day my body could break down and I won’t be able to run and THEN WHAT. I am not running much right now, but by choice. What would happen to me if I woke up tomorrow and couldn’t? I don’t want to think about it but maybe I should. For someone who so meticulously executes a training plan, I am incredibly half assed about everything else, including my mental health. My most precious resource. At some point, that comes at a cost.
I don’t know what happens next. I’m not committing to taking steps towards anything, racing or otherwise. I’m not ready to do more than write these words. I guess I just didn’t want to curl up with this anymore. I don’t want to start grinding away again and have people think something other than the truth. I’m tired of hiding something broken behind the miles.