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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

running scared

i remember my first track meet. it was at a local high school and i was a scrawny, shy, slightly insecure sixth grader. i was running the mile and i was at the start line feeling my heart beat way too fast and my hands getting sweaty. i was the only person from my school running this event and i hated that there was an audience. i was thinking how maybe joining track was a terrible idea (even though my friends and crush were doing it, which was the only reason why i signed up). i was a competitive kid in the sense that i always wanted to do my best and do well. ok, i was a perfectionist. but now i was competing in a sport that was more of an individual effort than a team. now there was more focus on me and i was terrified of falling flat on my face.

i came in sixth place that race and got a ribbon which is in a box somewhere in my parents' garage. that first race taught me a lot since i didn't do as well as i'd hoped but i also managed to overcome the race anxiety to finish. like so many things in life, i'm often terrified of taking that first step without any idea of what the outcome will be. usually it's a balance of being pleasantly surprised and mildly disappointed. the first race of my running career wasn't great or terrible but i did finish the season with several medals and records, some of which i think stand today. life lesson: push through and chase dreams.

that was almost two decades ago (holy crap i'm getting old!) and i'm still trying to remember to push through and chase dreams. I'm still running scared at times, literally and figuratively. i'm training for the Boston marathon and i'm terrified of getting injured before then, of not training hard enough, of even running itself at times. my vision is unpredictable and sometimes i have bad days without any warning. i went for a run last week and felt like i couldn't get into a groove and also had more flashing lights in my vision than usual. one of the scariest things about going blind is how it will affect running for me. it already has since i can't race solo (at this time i want to shout out to the amazing guides i've had for past races, especially julie who ran CIM with me and got me to a BQ and Sammie, who will be my guide for Boston. running 26.2 for someone else is so incredibly generous in both spirit and time). i can't run in low light setting at dusk or dawn and forget any night running. i also sometimes have trouble on trails, i have ot be extra vigilant when crossing streets. and sometimes, like last week, i have to stop until the flashing lights clear up a little more. when i run a lone i run much slower since i need more time to scan so i won't trip or hit things. these all suck out some of the joy of running. and yes, i can run with people and it makes it a little easier, but it's not the same. running alone is about being free and enjoying the solitude for me. i'm losing that and it's been more difficult than i ever imagined.

february is Retinitis Pigmentosa Awareness Month. lately i've been really fucking aware of my RP and what seems to be increasing limitations on my life. i've been living with it for over a decade and sometimes it feels like i've gotten better at coping and adjusting, like laughing at myself when i almost trip over something or walk into a chair. and sometimes i feel like break down over small things, like knocking over a full glass like i did this morning. i literally set down the glass in front of me on the counter a minute before completely missing it in my vision field and knocking it over. it wasn't a terrible mess to clean up and nothing was ruined or broken, except i broke down crying. it's always going to be a mourning process because my eyes are dying. i'm not giving up on living a full life, but i sometimes wonder if maybe you can't always pick up the pieces. maybe some pieces can never be put back together and they're lost forever. sometimes it's hard to let go of those pieces and that's when i realize how fucking exhausting it is to battle and struggle every day. even small incidences that seems harmless can be so frustrating and hurtful. i can't tell you how many times a day i "lose" things that are right in front of me. my sunglasses will be six inches from me on the table but it might as well be hidden under the couch. someone tries to show me something on their phone and it's right in my face but i don't even notice. tiny little hits that add up to thousands of moments can really take a toll on you. and then there are the bigger things, like when the power went out in my building and i had to finish packing for a flight. i basically had a panic attack because i could barely see a thing in my room during the middle of the day. there's a tree that blocks my window so only small patches of natural light come through, and while a person with healthy vision would manage to see well enough i was struggling physically and emotionally. even using a computer is a strain since i often lose the cursor on the screen. i spend probably half my time searching for things and half my time trying not to bump into things.

one thing i loved about track was that even though there were individual events that you won or lost on your own there was also a team behind you. you could lose one race and still win as a team. you had others to cheer you on and push you to be better, and vice versa. and i'm really lucky that i have family and friends who are on my team  to help me get through the bad days and cheer me on until the end of the race. a great quote i heard recently is by the late stuart scott who battled cancer for nearly a decade while still being an upbeat ESPN anchor. i watched his ESPY speech and this was my favorite part: 

"So live. Live! Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you."

this applies to all of us because we each have our own demons and battles to fight, and we each need others to help push us through and chase our dreams

i'm still running scared but i keep trying to remind myself it's not about the finish line. it's about taking that first step and to keep moving forward.

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