Sunday, May 22, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Sometimes I think if we could all remember how to fall like a child, we'd bounce right back up. A kid instinctively knows how to fall. They fall in a way that they don't get hurt. If you watch them playing, they'll fall twenty times and only cry if their feelings get hurt. Adults don't have this. We grow out of it. Every fall hurts. It hurts our bodies and it hurts our feelings.
If I said that life is about failure, I would feel redundant. I'm pretty sure I tell my kids (not mine, but the kids I work with) every day that they are going to fail. Over and over again, they will fail. And its about how they react to it. So, life is about failing and falling and finding a way to continue--to keep breathing, to learn from the disappointment, to run along.
Being an athlete, I should be accustomed to falling. It's never been my strong suite.
My senior year of college, I threw my shoulder out on a play that didn't mean anything. The team we were playing had essentially already won, but I tried to throw the ball from the center field fence to the plate. And boom! No shoulder. After we had congratulated the opposing team on their win, I broke down and told the trainer that something was wrong. So, I sat for weeks watching the final games of my senior season, of the game that I love most. And that still hurts. Falling hurts.
Last weekend I participated in the Country Music 1/2 Marathon with the Emily's Power for a Cure team. I say participated because I didn't complete this run. I got hurt at mile 6. Body fail. And after 4 more miles of denial, I decided that it wasn't worth it.
Before I go on, let me explain the "it wasn't worth it." It was. But somewhere between my pride and the reality of the situation, it didn't matter if I finished this race. Between the anger and the tears and the disappointment, it wasn't about me.
So, quitting sucked. I can honestly say that I have never quit anything in my entire life. I failed and it hurt my feelings and I was wounded. During the almost 2 hours that I sat on the course, I threw things, wouldn't speak to anyone, and I cried. The whole time. (Big shout out to Jill Higdon who has, for the past 7 years, been my cry-to person. Only you can take that call and make me feel better about sitting on a curb). And when I finally got on the shuttle to the finish line, I was angry at the other marathon failures who only wanted to get to the finish to get their medals.
I'm not sure what the medal meant to them, but as they were yelling at our driver to get them to that finish line, I started thinking a little more rationally about the situation. I didn't want that medal. I wasn't finishing. But I didn't need the medal or even to finish the race to feel like I had accomplished something.
The process of this experience was better for my soul than finishing the actual race. I was good to my body throughout the training--maybe for the first time in my athletic career. I was patient with myself and encouraging. Training was amazing and fun and enjoyable (something it is not supposed to be, historically). I am a part of a team--something that I've missed greatly for three years--and that team is a part of something much bigger than any of us singularly. And I have found another sister.
The people that were swirling all around me that weekend have more resilience than that little child on the playground that falls and gets back up and falls again. They have been broken and are still breathing.
So, it's taken me a full week to get over the fall. I use get over lightly because it still stings a little when people ask me how it went. It was supposed to go well, but it didn't, and that's okay. It really is. And I'm really grateful that I had my people to find me and hug me when I got off that awful shuttle of failures.
I quit because running means more to me than one race. I need these knees to last until my brain is incapable of letting me run. I feel guilty about craving something so desperately, but my need to run is stronger than my need for nearly any creature comfort. I'm a competitive person, and finishing a route a few seconds faster than the day before leaves me with a guaranteed high. Unlike drugs or booze, my running addiction makes my life better. I will never need Prozac as long as I have my daily fix of endorphins. No other exercise seems to provide it for me in quite the same way. All of my dearest friends have been or are my running partners.
When we fall, its discouraging and hard. Its time and devotion down the drain. But in the big picture, its a small blip in a larger mission.