Every day is a winding road. I have tried to put words to the last six or so months and it has seemed nearly impossible. How do you put words to something you don’t even understand?
“I’ve been wondering if all the things I’ve seen, were ever real, were ever really happening”.
I went into the October Ironman North Carolina 70.3 with decent training, but lots of fear. I couldn’t fit into my wetsuit, and my biking had been slow, nutrition training non-existent. Running was consistent, consistently slow, but it was there.
But I could do it, I’ve done the race multiple times before, right? I’ve done it on one swim per week and 100% trainer on the bike. It will be ok, right?
Well, evidently, no. It won’t.
I have never DNF’d a race before. I have wanted to, but I haven’t. I had no intentions of quitting, walking off the course, but I did that warm October day. I swam 1.2 miles, I biked 56 miles, I ran maybe a mile into the 13.1 mile course, and I realized I had made some pretty critical mistakes. My hydration was off. Way, way, way off. It was so off course, it wasn’t even on the map. Even though I had gone into the race knowing I needed to concentrate on hydration, what I had done wasn’t enough, and I was dehydrated before I got off the bike. That part was clear.
To make this nice and short, I knew I could walk the race, it’s not something I wanted to do, but I could. But the desire not to do it overtook the desire to just finish the damn thing, and when I realized that I would have to walk six miles to get back to the point where I was at that moment on the out-and-back course, I literally make a U-turn and said “fuck it”. Actually, I said “fuck it” and made the U-turn.
The only thing that would have stopped me from turning around was what other people thought of me. And I didn’t care enough to let that stop me from finishing a race I didn’t want to finish. I turned in my timing chip to a friend who was actually working the finish line, and I made sure I didn’t get close enough for the chip to register me as a finisher and get tagged as a cheater. But they ended up DQ’ing me anyway. Oh well.
The weird part is that I was ok with it. I was at the point where I didn’t care enough to finish a half ironman, one that I love and had done three times prior.
“I’m just wondering why I feel so all alone, why I’m a stranger in my own life”. Where did I go?
I came away from that day with a sense that I needed to get my shit together. I’ve been saying this for a long time. I walked out of my job with my head held high, and I went back to school. I have done a lot of things and made decisions to finally lose those extra pounds, to do what I say I was going to do, to finish what I wanted to finish.
But in the last few years, I became the queen of starting again on Monday. I had no follow-through. I didn’t finish what I set out to do. I don’t understand depression and what it does. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s depression or just being stuck. Either way, it’s not a fun place to be. But I knew I was making myself a prisoner of my own device, and I was the only one with the key to get out.
On a Wednesday in November, I hit the reset button, AGAIN. I’m not completely sure what was different this time except maybe I knew that if I didn’t get my shit together, I was going to regret it more than any of the other times I failed. There’s more to the story, but this particular post would be over twice as long if I explained it all, and it just doesn’t need to be.
Two weeks later, just a few days before Thanksgiving, I finished my two-week plan. It was a fairly strict diet and exercise plan (I was at the very beginning of marathon training), and I realized during this time the big nutrition mistakes I was making, which made losing weight impossible. I finally was able to fit into some of my old clothes. I felt better, I looked better, and I knew better. I was thinking clearer, I felt confident again, and I didn’t need to start again on Monday until it was Sunday night. I did it. There was something different this time, my mindset was in concrete, and I wasn’t going to budge. There I was, right there. I found me.
I finished my third semester of grad school strong, thankfully, because a month prior, I thought I was going to fail out. My grades were good all semester, but I was struggling and I felt like my brain was full of cobwebs. Where did I go?? With all of the ups and downs of the last few years, I finally felt like I had grounded myself, and I came away from those two weeks with a sense of self and purpose. This wasn’t just about weight, no. This was about rediscovery and getting un-stuck. Weeble-wobble to warrior. I found myself again.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that this train can’t be derailed, but with clarity comes determination. Determination brings clarity. I don’t want to go back to how I was feeling in October, or rather for the last few years. I want to keep moving forward, learning, progressing, and living.
I’m no longer marathon training, as a series of minor mistakes unknowingly caused my calf and posterior tib to flare up, making running painful and training impossible. I deferred both of my races and am on the fence for the third one. I will likely give that registration up since I don’t want to really injure myself by doing something I don’t need to do. But I’m working out five to six days per week, I walk a lot, and I’m DOING IT.
I got so much stuff done at home, and I did a lot of things I had said I was going to do in years prior. I have very high hopes for 2023. I don’t make resolutions, I don’t have a theme or word, but I will go into this year optimistic and excited. I’m also doing my best not to be consumed with worry for my three boys. I just want them all to be ok, and you cannot control what happens to you in many cases. My husband travels a lot, has had some health issues that seem to be fine now, my oldest son struggled with his first year of college, but has seemed to be finding who he wants to be this year. My youngest has faced a lot of loss just over break, so he will have to deal with his second best friend at school leaving his school as well as a death of a travel teammate. On his last day of break, he will attend his teammates funeral. Why does a 17-year-old die? I can’t put words to it, all I can do is help him through it. I think death is always a lesson in living true to yourself, being a good person, and mostly, telling the people you love that you love them. No, I don’t plan to make every day like it’s my last, because some days are for sleeping in, movies, and a book. But this year, mostly due to the clarity I seem to have found as of late, will be one of intention, fulfillment, and love. Hopefully less worry. That’s something to work on.
Happy new year to everyone.