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

Monday, April 14, 2014

three six five

i'm writing and posting this from boston, a city that i love very much despite the brief amount of time i've spent here. even before i first visited in 2012 the city always called to me. once i arrived it was love at first sight.

april 14, 2013 i was having a lovely sunday. i worked and was running home from the store enjoying the fresh spring weather. just after two miles i took a fateful misstep and fell. i was training for the highly anticipated inaugural nike women's 1/2 marathon in dc and instead i got crushing news and crutches. it was an end to one dream and a beginning to a nightmare: 13 weeks of crutches and frustration and painful growing pains.

the next morning i woke up still feeling devastated when i did my morning routine of checking email and news (and ok, yes, facebook and instagram) and my heart dropped as i saw the headlines and photos. there are probably a handful of moments that you will remember every detail for the rest of your life; my mom still remembers being in her first grade classroom when she found out about JFK, we can all somberly recall where we were when 9/11 happened - moments where the events are so shocking they can't be real and so the world stops while details imprinted in your memory forever. everything changes.

the boston bombing hit every runner in the heart. i've mentioned how running is my one true love and someone was attacking my love! it was heartbreaking and confusing. i was on the opposite side of the country and didn't even know anyone there at the time, but i still had an acutely emotional reaction. the Boston Marathon is the ultimate marathon for runners and holds such a special place within the community. and the city, the city that captured my heart just a year before, was now bleeding. there really aren't words.

i know that with the anniversary being tomorrow and the race happening again soon there are countless reports and articles and tributes and the like as people try to find the words that are never never sufficient. those directly affected are still healing and all that we all can do is just keep moving forward. one foot in front of the other, one mile at a time.

in the days and weeks after i loved how people, and runners, banded together to support each other and the city of boston. Boston Strong. Run For Boston. The One Fund. there are photos that show the chaotic destruction and outpouring of humanity of people rushing to aid victims. As everyone's favorite neighbor, Mr. Rogers, said "“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” that's the beauty from the pain: hope and humanity still manage to shine through.

last fall i got a new coworker who grew up in the boston area. on his first day i had briefly overheard how he was from boston and later found out he actually ran it. he worked at marathon sports which is right at the finish line and became the emergency triage after the bombs exploded. even though we eventually became friends in addition to colleagues i never felt like i could ask him about that day. i don't feel like it's my place to pry and make him relive it just so i can try, and inevitably fail, to understand what it was like. i wasn't there so i'll never know. i have gotten bits and pieces as he voluntarily shared stories from time to time, especially as there's more attention in the weeks leading up to the race. he's running it again, and i know at least two other people running this year. i can't even imagine how bittersweet this year's event will be. for him, the survivors, residents, and all participants. this is going to be such a huge and memorable event..but it leaves me wondering if it should be? one of the biggest points i've gotten from my coworker is that the people who were there just want to move on. as this video shows, this year's race should be a celebration. so many runners dream of crossing that finish line, myself included. the tragedy of last year shouldn't take away from the joys of finishing and triumphing this year. we need to keep moving forward and looking to the future while appreciating the present. aren't we all better, stronger, wiser (hopefully). with that in mind i've been thinking about my own personal journey and struggles over the past year. that is in no way to say what i've dealt with compares to the pain and horrors the survivors of 2013 boston have, but that we can all learn a little about overcoming and moving on.

i broke my leg april 14, 2013. i was on crutches until july 17, 2013. i literally had to relearn how to walk since my brain was rewired to protect and favor my right leg. i got back on the proverbial horse and started running that august, completing a half marathon in october. i took time off to focus on strength training and balance, and to be really honest, i also had a huge fear of re-injuring myself. i told myself, and everyone else, that i joined a gym for injury prevention (which is partially true) and that i was taking a break from running to focus on cross training, i wasn't lying, but i wasn't completely honest. i had a brief run streak stint in late november/early december but i wasn't running that much or that well. i was playing it safe. i was hiding.

this fear turned into a real mental block as the rock n roll sf half marathon was approaching. i ran for about 21 miles TOTAL from jan 1-april 5. my half was april 6, and i ran all 13.1 without any major consequences. i have an awful habit of running half marathons without any proper training. (i know, so so bad and i promise i'm working on the whole consistency thing!) the weeks leading up to my race were crazy hectic with work and travel and so even working out at the gym suffered. bleh adulthood and responsibilities! i eventually started to adopt the attitude of "fuck it, i'm screwed anyway" and did NOTHING while eating also like crap. you know, that whole thing where people stop trying because they're afraid to try and suck. might as well not try and suck!

that's entirely not the right way to approach running, or anything in life for that matter. unfortunately the anxiety of being unprepared and working nonstop overwhelmed me so i was completely miserable going into the race. i kept thinking about just going out for any kind of run, no matter the distance or the pace, and yet i was gripped by fear. fear of another freak accident or crippling misstep. fear of actually being free and flying through the roads/trails. fear of getting lost in the run and it not ending badly. i was haunted by my accident a year ago, and as the race (and looming anniversary of the injury) approached i was psyched out. this is something everyone runner experiences at one point or another. i just haven't had it quite so bad before. i literally spent one of my few days off holed up in bed trying to sleep and netflix away reality. yeah, it was that bad. it's like being sucked into a black hole of nothingness and feeling either too weak or too paralyzed to even try to crawl out.

the night before the race i woke up about every hour dreading the the moment i'd have to be at the start and actually run those 13.1 miles of suckage. yeah, not the best attitude. despite all the weight and dread, i did make it to the start line. i didn't have a great race, but i didn't have the worst one either. and while i may have been thinking "why the fuck do i do this to myself? how is running this much even sane?" during the race, i definitely started thinking about what the next race should be once i was done. oh that runner's high, it tricks you into thinking running more is always the best idea!

i guess the main point of this post is that i'm glad i pushed through. i fought my own demons and showed up to the start line. i am proud of myself for that, and i am so inspired by all the boston runners for doing the same. the magnitude of them toeing the line is much greater and i am so excited for them. no matter the injury or the scars, running always manage to remind us that there's beauty and in the run and it's ultimately worth it. just like life.

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