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just another 20-something stumbling through life, one mile at a time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

fighting the hamster wheel

it's been a long time since i've posted...much longer than i intended. to be completely honest, i have never been great and regularly updating. whether it was a diary when i was younger or email correspondences now, i just have a hard time forcing myself to sit down and write. these days i find myself which events or feelings i should share, since being a runner and training had so many topics in and of itself, and having RP has just as many potential posts. as i'm going through my daily life there are countless "rp moments" that i think about sharing on here, because one of my goals is to try to explain what this relatively rare and unknown disease is like. but then i remind myself i'm not trying to be the rp poster girl either, that i'm a runner, and need to talk about rp in relation to running. so yeah, there's that silly little battle going on in my head most days.

the main reason for my hiatus is that my training has taken a bit of a hit, since i'm having some shin splints and knee problems. i got check out a couple weeks ago and have been resting and scaling back, and then i've been sick so that derailed training even further. it's been a whirlwind of emotions in the past few weeks: disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, hopefulness, determined. chicago is still on my horizon but, and i really hate to admit this, there's also a fear i won't recover in time and a sense of deja vu. i'm trying not to stress about it and be proactive, but damnit that fear and doubt keep nagging at my mind. then i got sick (still feeling sick) which i attribute to a stress induced weaken immune system. i just moved, and am still in the process of transitioning between places, and it's physically taking a toll on me. it's been a rough month so far.

on top of all that i've had too many reminders of my legally blindness. for the most part, i almost forget about it on a daily basis. it's my "new normal" and even when i try to remember what my vision was like pre-diagnosis, it's not very clear. i have flashing lights in my periphery 24/7 and i usually don't notice anymore. sometimes there will be more flashing lights, especially when transitioning from different levels of lighted ares (bright sunlight to inside light, or inside light to outside night). i can't remember what it was like not having any lights in my vision, which started when i was 16. a whole decade ago. i have memories from before then of course, but i can't remember seeing more and without lights.

when i was in la i went for a run with my younger cousin. he ran cross country in high school and for a year at community college, and is really the only other runner in my family. we had talked about going for a run together for years now but our schedules never seemed to align, but for my last trip we were determined to make it happen. he got off work late so our run was pushed back to 7:30ish, and the marine lyr was already rolling in by the coast. i used to run at dusk a lot, especially during cross country season when it was getting dark by the end of practices. it's been something i've avoided in recent years, even though i always preferred running later in the day over early morning. we made it a quick run since it was getting late and the route we were taking wasn't the best well lit street, but it was a warm night with a touch of humidity and running along the bluffs was calming. even though i couldn't see the ocean, i could smell the salt air and feel the breeze and that was enough to make me happy. unfortunately i had to focus on where i was running more so than usual. my cousin and i ran and an easy conversational pace, but i had trouble seeing in the dark. a part of me was ready to just stop and sit and cry on the curb that i was fairly certain a foot away from me but couldn't really tell. i'm not sure if my cousin is aware of my condition since it's not something i really talk about and it's not something my family ever brings up. i couldn't remember if i ever told him or if he just assumed i never got my license (his girlfriend never got her license so it's not *too* uncommon). either way, it wasn't something i wanted to bring up or explain at the time since my runner's ego was already feeling bruised. it was just a couple miles, poorly paced since i went slow to be careful, and i felt disappointed for a) realizing i will never be able to do a dusk/night run without a guide and b) i wanted to 5-6 miles and didn't even come close. i have to remind myself that getting out there matters and i can't beat myself up for falling short, especially when it is because of my physical limitations.

i've gotten in touch with my guide for chicago, bobby. he's a chicago based coach for team in training and this is the first time he'll be a guide and it's my first time having one. i've tried to explain my condition and how it affects me, but it's not something i can do in one conversation with one or two examples. it's best done spending a day with me and witnessing the things i miss and bump into, seeing my hesitations when walking through lighting changes as i try to slowly adjust, counting the apologies i say to people i bump into or hands extended for a handshake i ignore. bobby and i will do a short practice run the day before the race to get a feel of what it's like, and i am going to try a tether method for the marathon. the tether will be a piece of rope looped at both ends and we each slide a hand into, so while we are running i'll be able to feel him tug at the rope to warn me of curbs, cones, people, etc (along with a verbal warning) and not have to waste as much energy scanning the crowds. that way i will (hopefully) be able to focus on my race- pace and breathing and mental perseverance. since i don't normally use my cane, it will be one of the first times i voluntarily flag myself as a blind/visually impaired person in such a public setting. as the day gets closer i'm sure there will be some emotional preparation needed, but for now i am concentrating on getting myself physically healthy and ready.

i keep reminding myself i need to adapt, which is true of all runners. injuries and obstacles will always arise during training schedules and we need to adjust ourselves accordingly. so i'm picking myself up from my training slump, starting fresh with a new apartment, gearing up for a new school year, and embracing the change. moving forward is all about change, right? i mean, i heard that's what life is. time to get off this hamster wheel of a rut and run again =)