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September 2017
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Running
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"Making the beginning is one third of the work." ~Irish Proverb

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PostHeaderIcon Record the good and the bad

Having made some kind of unconscious determination to be more honest about the struggle in running et al, I suddenly realized I want, no, need, to also record when a good nugget happens. (this is different than social media wise where majority pretty much record only the awesome parts of their lives, and don’t share the vulnerability that allows people to not have to be perfect) Simply for me to remember, somewhere, that there are good moments, minutes in running. Plus this post allow me to use as many commas as I feel, you know, like, using. Seriously though, I went for a run yesterday morning. A little one. Walked for part of it. Coughed for part of it. But I ran too. For maybe a mile without stopping. And for most of it – holy crap – it felt…good. Decent. Strong-ish. Well, maybe not strong but stable. Not fast but consistent. I could make adjustments in the moment and not simply ‘get through’ it. Had a memory of how running usually makes me feel brave, capable, strong. Hell, I’ll take a memory over nothing right now. Perhaps I can own the sensory memory of it, allow it to become real on the next run. The next run – as I write this, instead of feeling dread or fear I’m feeling anticipation and desire. That’s a new one, or old one, or something. And allowing for it may pass, but feeling also grateful at this 5:15am writing that I’m feeling that at all, it’s been a while and I’ll take the seedling of it and while no promises or absolutes or treating it like a fragile egg, I will appreciate that something felt nice in yesterday’s run, enough to make me want to try again. That’s enough.

PostHeaderIcon The feeling of frustration

Frustration because I feel like I’ve been stronger, healthier, more badass before. I’ve struggled through challenges before, using running as a way to overcome and feel the strength I still have ‘no matter what.’ And to not feel that, no matter what I do, to not be able to dig deeper and come up with whatever I need to reconnect to running in a way that doesn’t feel like a burden – because it never did before. To not feel that is frustrating and frankly a little scary too. I can’t imagine that most other runners struggle with breath and joints the way I do, certainly not the way I do right now. Right now. Trying to believe it is all temporary and while I won’t or may not reclaim the past feeling of invincibility, there’s still possibility that I can claim a feeling of bravery, strength, peace again in my running. But it’s certainly a weird feeling to not be pulled into running by the sense of inevitability no matter how I’m feeling – I always appreciated the crappy runs because they so make you appreciate the great, good, amazing runs – whether they’re amazing for how they feel, what you experience, how you finish.

Oh and I’ve recently learned from my pulmonologist that someone who’s had sarcoid typically develops a special form of asthma as the years go on. So there’s that. #thingsthatwouldvebeenhelpfultoknowyearsago
And so I have a new inhaler, a new regimen, a new medicine. Let’s see how this goes (seriously, all this time I’ve probably been dealing with a sarcoid-induced asthma? GAH!) and try to re-embody my personal mantra of progress, not perfection.

Feeling like I’ve tried everything to get the running back, and it starts with the feelings of just simply being able to. I mean, I’ve used running as proof of ability to overcome pretty much anything and I’ve run through pretty much everything so the fact that I currently cannot – it’s actually quite hard to put into words. And with still no fully fleshed out answers for what the f is going on, I will not try. I will just get up again each day and attempt some version of this current life. Yoda, I love ya buddy but right now ‘try’ is my ‘do.’

PostHeaderIcon Fear and Envy, in running

Fear And Envy.

The fancy ways of saying what I’m experiencing when I’m approaching a run these days – I feel afraid it’s going to hurt and/or generally suck and jealous of people who get to run without feeling much of the struggle.

I wish it was simply the “I hate running!” crap that I hear from so many runners. Frankly, I’ve never understood that, meaning I think hey, if you hate it why are you doing it? And there are hundreds of sites and memes and mantras dedicated to do it even though you hate it. Again, I don’t understand that. Sure, I’ve definitely experienced runs I’ve struggled through for various reasons, but I don’t loathe or hate or resent running and therefore get some weird high or satisfaction from still doing it. In fact, I avoid that realm of the running world as much as I can – yes, partially it feels negative for what benefit and also, I truly do not understand the ‘why’ behind the method and mentality. I’m beyond grateful when I can run, when I can take each step, when running remains a possibility for me.

Which is why I’m experiencing fear and envy these days. Fear not just around a half marathon – seriously, that’s a whole different kind of fear. 13.1 miles is no joke, it’s a significant amount of steps (approximately 25,000) to tackle or embrace. The fear around a half marathon is almost kind of a motivator – not in the “I hate it therefore I must do it” but the butterflies and nerves the morning of a race (or even while at the expo) that I feel and that push me to the start line. The fear I’m feeling around running right now has gotten to the point of not running – I’m scared I will feel pain in my lungs or legs, or that I will feel nauseous in a way that is debilitating and I have to walk. My runs – when I do them – consist mostly of walking. I can get a run in for about a (slow) mile and a half, and then the nausea starts and it becomes a bit of a battle. Or the pain in my lungs becomes too much and I just can’t push it – there’s a line to cross and then there is a line to not. Bending over at the waist to cough, dry heave, double over in pain – this does not make any run remotely enjoyable and it is scary. This is not what running is or…….

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PostHeaderIcon Did I run #58 or was that just my imagination?

Wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do this, and frankly, if I even should.

Chicago, I don’t know why but I love visiting you. My running here has rarely been great, but I come back for more.

Between my mom’s accident, my own health, and the fact that the last time I ran here was right after Chris died, I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to happen, if at all.

Without burying the lead, this was 3rd worst finish time of 58 half marathons (and two of the three times I’ve run RnRCHI have been some of my worst finish times.) So there’s that.

But. I finished. I did cross that finish line. Despite everything. The heat and humidity was worse two years ago, but still, we started at 70 degrees at 6:30 in the morning. But RnR was well prepared, extra water stations, a cold wet sponge station, multiple large water sprinklers to run under or through, a couple of cooling buses if folks needed them. And extra medical tents. Here’s the good news (especially compared to two years ago), the staff at most of the medical tents looked almost bored. That’s a good thing – it means they weren’t tending to as many people as they could’ve been.

My system isn’t on par given the last few weeks but I managed to eek this one out. I could’ve, yes, skipped it altogether, but after the first week of my mom’s accident and then last week going full tilt each day to help get her set up for success at home, part of me needed to have this outlet. Even though, if I’m honest, part of me also just wanted to get it over with. I don’t like that feeling, I much prefer being excited and looking forward to every moment leading up to the race, and being present enough to notice so much going on around me. Hell, I forgot a ton of stuff for a race weekend as I was packing and didn’t even realize I did until far too late.

I don’t recall much of the race, because I was in the mindset of wanting to simply get to the finish line. It felt like the longest miles ever recorded. I managed the first few miles runinng, and then I took walk breaks and nearly every mile, if not more frequently. I was not a strong runner for any of it, in fact came close to hurling (not because of effort) more times than I can count (what…….

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PostHeaderIcon Finishing is Winning

Finishing is Winning

Taken me a minute or two (or weeks) to write this about half #57. Not sure why. It wasn’t the worst finish time or the best. But it’s a significant race for me – aren’t they all?

I guess it’s significant because it’s starting to feel like every race could be my last. I don’t know how many more I can do – regardless of doing one or 10 in a year.

But to get back to #57 – in my hometown. That’s always special to me. A year ago, the Seattle race couldn’t have been better. An article I’d written for the Seattle Times had just come out two days after I landed in town, I ran my fastest Seattle time (by a lot), enjoyed the race, got some good quality time with my mom who was a rockstar and even got to celebrate over dinner with a good friend. It was pretty much the perfect race weekend for me.

This year – not so much. I was able to come up to town early, but not for fun reasons (other than extra time with mom), to see some doctors and figure out why I”ve had a cough for 2+ months. It was scary. The doctor appointment was somewhat inconclusive, which with autoimmune crap they usually are initially, and the chest x-ray – just the act of doing it – was scary. I went home after those appointments and slept for a couple hours. I was wiped out to say the least. And then felt paralyzed in the “I know something is wrong” fear, but also dismissing it and pretending everything is fine, to keep folks around me calm. But the next day the tears came and went. I rallied, in a daze, to do things and get prepared for the race. I once had a friend years ago when I was in the hospital say “oh it’s just Gretchen, I’m sure it’s just something weird” which didn’t exactly make me feel supported and also makes me want to hide my health crap more than share it. Hell, I can’t imagine having a guy stick around to be able to ‘deal’ with me or my health, since it hasn’t happened yet, so it’s easier to just stuff it. Fake it till you make it – the most common advice I’ve ever received.

Went to the expo the day before the race, and all I wanted to do was grab my number and be invisible. Absorb into the walls. Hide. Got my…….

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