Nine years ago this month I ran my first 21k. I signed up with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. Why? I didn’t know. I still don’t know. Despite heavy thinking, I have no clue really. I wasn’t a runner and to make matters worse I had to raise a ridiculous amount of money. Ridiculous for a shy girl that is. I was the wrong person for the job in every way. Don’t get me wrong. LLS is a worthy charity, very legit in everything they do. I just wasn’t sure I was cut out for any of it.
Turns out I was wrong. I loved the running. I wasn’t very fast nor very competitive. Really, I wasn’t all that good at it. But, I’ll say it again: I loved it. I ran just to run. Plain and simple. It was addictive. It soothed something sinister in me. I found out I’m a decent fund raising as well. I raised the minimum for LLS and then some. Somewhere, somehow I found a strange new confidence. Then. Then two months before the race I hurt my knee and everything (including me every time I ran) came crashing down. I never knew when this collapse would happen. One minute I’m running, the next I’m lying on the ground unable to get up again. Doctor after doctor said previous assaults on my body rendered me useless and runless. Take up swimming they all said. Trouble is, I can’t swim. I run out of breath too easily and I sink like a stone. One dip in the pool and I have water in my ears and chlorine in my eyes for days on end. Nothing makes my skin prickle more than a chemically treated pool.
Over the course of seven years I tried running off and on. I’d make these big and sudden pronouncements, “I’m back!” and I’d blog about four, six, even twelve weeks of running; all amounting to nothing much. Then suddenly just as quickly and without warning, I would go radio silent. What I wasn’t saying is that the pain would return, the knee would buckle and I would retreat back into my I Can’t Do This attitude. Fear had a cold grip on all things running so I’d hide.
Meanwhile, my psyche was getting sicker. Listen to “I May Know The Word” by Natalie Merchant and you’ll know me in my worst moments. I was becoming indifferent to anything important. Situations where happiness was called for were faked. Emotions were hard to express and even harder to even have. Instead of getting angry I would get ambivalent. I simply didn’t care. I honestly thought Robin Williams had the right idea.
Fast forward to this 2015 half marathon. Redemption in a nutshell. I can’t explain it. No crashing to the ground. No pain. No asthma attack. No fear. Why was everything about this run so different from nine years earlier? I question this constantly. I shouldn’t. I should just do. Yes, exactly! You know what I should do? Go back to Alton Bay and rock the run that devastated me nine years earlier. Then there really will be more to the story.