Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Don't Call it a Comeback

The last week feels like a week of comebacks: personally (running, focusing on family and friends) and professionally. I've had rough go since October with frustrating health issues that have threatened to overtake every other aspect of my life, but in the last week I feel like I've regained previously elusive control. 

Four months may not seem like that long to not run a race, but it's felt like forever. Maybe it's simply the magnitude of how crummy I've felt, but it seems like I haven't raced in ages. While I love running alone, nothing beats joining a group of fellow runners to push ourselves on race day. Whether it's 3.1 miles or 26.2, the excitement never gets old. 

My friend Nikki and I registered to run a 10k together back in October, and my surprise surgery threw a wrench in it. We haven't been running together lately (mostly because I haven't been running at all), so this race was fulfilling both my running and friendship needs. I had a rough Crohn's day on Saturday, and my husband was not amused that I was still planning to run on Sunday morning. But I felt better when I woke up, and my soul needed it even more than my body. 

The last two years I've won my age group at the Super Bowl 5k, but I knew that wouldn't be the case this year. This year I'm focusing on feeling strong; not the number of miles I'm running or speed. I pushed myself hard during the race, and Nikki graciously stayed with me even though she can run much faster. I ran a respectable 25:15, and I felt like myself again. 

I made myself smile. I did not feel like it. 
Afterward we spent an hour catching up over coffee: talking about work, our boys, our husbands. We worked together for eight years, and our chats happened daily (although not usually so long). Now I relish these times when we get together and dish about anything and everything. My heart is happy.

Last week was also a fantastic one professionally. On the second day of my new job last fall I ran into a respected municipal attorney with whom I'd worked for years at a large event for local government officials. He congratulated me on the new position. As we clinked glasses he said, "Welcome to the outside; to the vendor world." Then he quipped that working for a membership association (which I'd done for 8.5 years) makes staff feel like they're on the inside, but in reality cities are paying dues. He opined that really I'd been a vendor all along and didn't know it.

I have to admit I felt hurt by it. I had poured my entire heart and soul into representing Michigan's communities. These were my people. Of course I was on the inside. But that comment has stuck with me. As I attended the Michigan Municipal Executives conference last week (comprised of city, village, township and county managers), I wondered how they'd perceive me. Would they see me as an insider, as an outsider in a vendor role or had I really been on the outside all along?

The week shattered any and all notions of my being an outsider. From the very first reception I was greeted with hugs and jokes, and it was as if I'd never left. I had come home. I had the best week, and I realized that my feeling like part of the team has nothing to do with where I work. It is tied to my passion for making communities better. It is rooted in the relationships I've spent years building. That conference is one of my favorites, and as I have for years I left feeling inspired by the work these men and women are doing. One manager told me the conference felt "normal" again with me there. Another said I was doing a great job mentoring young female managers, and they were taking in everything I said and did. It was so gratifying to be with my people again.

Hanging out with a few of my favs in Kalamazoo
Crohn's can wreak havoc on your body and your mind. But in the last week I feel like myself again for the first time since my major issues in October. I feel like a runner, like a good friend, and like an advocate for strong communities. I was always those things, but it's good to be reminded of it. Don't call it a comeback; I've been here for years. 

No comments:

Post a Comment