After running the New York Marathon, a half marathon and two 5ks in November, I needed a break. I wasn't enjoying running, and I decided to take a little time off. I may have gone to extremes given that I can count on one hand the number of times I've run in December and January. I've been working out even more than usual with lots of cross training, but I haven't been running. Last weekend I decided I needed to get back outside and back into the running groove. My break was over.
On Sunday morning I took my dogs for a mile walk to warm up my legs and get them out of the house. The winter weather has been wreaking havoc on their walk schedule, and the pups' cabin fever has been pretty intense. It was colder than I thought it would be, and I immediately started trying to talk myself out of running. Why run when I could just pop in a DVD in the warmth of my living room? If I'm being honest one of my T25 workouts is harder than a short run anyway.
I forced the doubts from my head as I walked the dogs home. I didn't just want to run; I needed to. My body has been feeling wooden in the way it does only when it's not running. I'm much like my dogs in that way; my body needs intense exercise to feel like myself.
As I ran out the door I immediately felt like I was coming home. My body fell into its familiar cadence after just a few steps, and my breathing settled into its rhythm. I felt calm. I felt like myself.
Running is when I do my best thinking. I told my husband that I need to take a dictation machine with me. He told me I could probably take something small, but I am amused at the idea of strapping a large, old timey dictation machine to my back as I run out the door. I thought about a presentation I'm doing next week. I thought about my schedule for this week. I thought about this blog.
I have been struggling with my writing, and that's frustrating because it's generally something that relaxes me. I realized I was struggling because I'm not running. My body is out of its flow, and it takes my mind with it.
As I rounded the turn at the halfway point I started thinking about the importance of running to my psyche. I realized I haven't felt like myself lately. If I'm being honest I haven't felt like myself in quite a while. In the last three years I've lost both my father and father-in-law, we had a birth mom change her mind on an adoption plan after she gave birth, I spent a month in the hospital with two surgeries and a blood clot, and I unexpectedly had to put down my 15-year-old cat who was my baby.
In that time we have some amazing joys - the birth of our son, buying our dream house, two new exciting career changes. But it's a lot. This has all happened in the span of three years, and it's taken its toll. It's taken its toll on me as a wife, a mother, a friend and a colleague. It's taken a toll on my marriage. In the last three years we've dealt with as much as some people deal with in decades. I'm not complaining; we have a great life. Our struggles are so much less than those of so many others. I am strong, and I know I can handle it. But it's been really fucking hard, and it's changed me. I'm not sure I always like who I am right now.
When I blogged last week I was being honest with my feelings, and I had so many friends reach out. I didn't realize that the post sounded dire or like I needed my friends to reach out, but I did. I do. And I need to be there for them too. I need to find myself because somewhere in the chaos that life has thrown at me, I've gotten lost. I haven't enjoyed running. I haven't enjoyed reading. I haven't enjoyed my family and friends the way I used to. I've been angry, and not in that funny, sarcastic way that makes me charming. Particularly since Dad died I've been pissed off, and I'm sure that's natural. But I don't like it.
As I neared the end of my run I began gulping in air as I started to cry. It felt so amazing to be running, and I felt like me. I loved it again. I am now resolving to find myself again. Last night I finished the cheesiest Nicholas Sparks book, and it was amazing. Judge me. I loved every word of it. I will love, I will run, I will read, and I will make fun of people wearing leggings (because STOP IT. THEY AREN'T PANTS.)
I'll laugh and I'll cry. I'll stop pushing away the feelings. It's my nature to play through both the pleasure and the pain, and it's not working. Today starts my come back to the person I like. That includes my snarky commentary on pretty much everything. Watch out people inappropiately wearing flats. I'm baaaaaaaaaaack.