Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Love I Took for Granted

Do you know that saying (I'm sure you do), that one that says something like "If you love something let it go and if it's meant to be it will come back."? I know that I just stated it totally wrong, but you understand. Well, that's been me and running the last month. Running let me go, gracefully. The truth is it happened slowly. And it all began during an amazing five miler I was having.

I was running through the upper west side of Manhattan, keeping an awesome pace (actually one of the best paces to date) and at mile 4.85 I fell into a pot hole. I just shook it off and kept going, but at the end I knew I twisted my ankle pretty bad. It hurt, but what was worse was how bad the small injury shook me. I had been running since March and had minor setbacks (shin splints and sore muscles). But it was the first time that running reached out and hurt me. And with any relationship that hurts, I got scared. I know it was only a twisted ankle, but for the first time I realized that I was vulnerable during the only time I felt safe. Running has been my escape, my paradise. Me and the road. No worries about my relationships, being a mom, school, work; and for the first time I felt good about me. The depression that had engulfed my life had disappeared. This was my world of running. But after the minor setback I was hesitant, it hurt me like so many other aspects of my life. Just like the way I was raised (resist conflict by all measures), I let go. I put my running shoes in the closet and I stepped away. And slowly I fell apart.

It was crazy to realize how the activity of running was keeping my world together. It was the glue that kept me grounded. But I didn’t realize the extent until now. Thanksgiving came and I ran the treadmill a little bit, but not the mileage that I was use to. And as the holiday approached I slipped into a depression. Thanksgiving has always been hard since I lost a friend 5 years ago in a very tragic car accident the day before the holiday.

After the holiday I became swamped in school work and mommy obligations. The two constantly conflicted with one another which began to cause massive guilt to build up. There were numerous times where I was on the verge of a melt-down; and at one point where it just happened. Sitting at my desk I just cried and cried. Why couldn’t priorities be easier to manage? The stress of my PhD program was taking a toll on my marriage and every day my husband and I were at each other’s throats. Keeping sane was becoming more difficult, I felt like I was drowning and once again my life felt like it was falling apart and depression began to slowly take over.

One day after coming home from a long day of work and school, I opened my closet and there sat my beautiful bright blue running shoes. For the first time in my life I felt a love towards an inanimate object. I picked them up and gazed at them. My shoes missed me as much as I needed them. At that moment I gathered all my running gear and packed it away in my gym bag. I walked out into the living room and informed my husband that I was going into work early so I could run. The next morning I woke up excited. Today was the day I reconciled with a love I didn’t really know I had.
I drove to work, dropped off items in my office, and hurried over to the gym. I walked the track a few laps to warm up and then jumped on a treadmill. For 40 minutes I gave it my all. Granted it wasn’t as good as my previous five mile run, but it had been a while. The moment I stepped off the treadmill, I had a bounce in my step. I was happy and I felt good. I gradually got back on the horse and it felt great. I am not as edgy and snippy which has decreased the tension in my marriage. And the guilt of having to be away from my son has somewhat subsided.

Running has taught me time management. It has also shown me that my number one priority is taking care of my physical and mental self. A happy mommy is a good mommy. Looking back I feel bad about taking time off. But in all honesty, I needed to truly see how this sport has shaped me and made me stronger.

So my running affair continues. Every date we have is one that I will never again regret.

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