The Loneliest Number
As I met my mum on mothers day, she looked at me and said “are you limping?” I confirmed her thoughts and replied with a “yeah it’s nothing, probably just over did it a bit”. I hadn’t over done it, in fact I had spent the week underoing it (all planned of course), and my nonchalant attitude was a poor attempt to trick my mind and body in to believing my words.
I’d been training for 12 weeks, and been dreaming for a long long time about this day. The day I’d make it all come together on my home turf. When I say I’d been training I don’t just mean I’d been going out and getting the mileage in. I’d hit every tempo run, every interval, every hill rep and on pace. I was pushing, fighting and going at it hard. I’d changed my diet, my routine and my lifestyle, all because I wanted this thing more than I’d wanted anything in a long time. Sure my body was tired after the 12 in 12, but I was training smart. On the days where my body said no way, I moved around my training. On the days I felt like I needed rest I gave myself that rest. I had regular massages, epsom salt baths, hot dates with the foam roller. I seriously followed all the rules y’all!
A week went by and my leg was no better, another week and still no improvement, total rest and I was still hobbling down stairs and being woken in my sleep by the pain. There was no big issue, just a few minor niggles; rest and TLC should be the cure, but they weren’t, they aren’t. The lack of progress and the desire to want to be back on my feet as soon as possible, meant I knew there was now very little chance I’d make the start line. Which was then confirmed as I rocked up at a new physio, for a new diagnosis and rehab routine.
The common comments of “oh you’ll be back to it in no time” it’s just a race” “you’ve got plenty of time to run in your life” although all sweet and well meaning, just left me feeling more lost. See I was, and I am broken by the news that I don’t get to be on that start line. When you look at it, you see it as just one day that I’ll miss out on, just one experience. But when I feel it, I feel all of it, I feel the 400+ training miles in my legs That are now just melting away in to nothing, the endless cross training sessions, the blood sweat and the tears of it all, the every waking moment i thought about it, every ounce of me that was preparing to be there, and to be there as my best self.
A DNS is not something uniquely personal to me, but my DNS is. This is my first time training for a race I can’t run, and not any race, my A race. The race that I was pinning my hopes and dreams on. With every reminder email, and every missed training run, I feel further and further away from where and who I thought I was. Yes 100% melodramatic, but 100% true. With little warning and/or reason, I’ve been left stranded, and the thing that normally keeps me afloat when I’m stranded with no place to go, yeah that thing, I can’t do!
So yes amongst all this I feel ever so slightly like I’m fading away, losing a part of myself, struggling with the lack of freedom and escapism, but also the lack of social interactions and networks that I’ve grown to depend on. Running is so much more than just time on your feet, it’s people, and experiences, and laughter, and de-stressing, and the great outdoors, and achievement, and pride, and sweat, so much sweat, oh and for me a good nights sleep.
It’s worth reflecting that nothing here is serious, I will run again, probably in the next few weeks or at most months, no big sponsorship deals have been scuppered by my non-running, and no gold medals lost. I am at best an insignificant runner, but running is not in the least bit insignificant to me. It is me, or at least so much of me.
It’s not all doom and gloom, in the meantime I get to volunteer at a lot of events, hopefully securing my running karma for that big comeback. I get to be in the pool, which although fills me mostly with dread, is something I am going to have to get better at if I’m going to Ironman some day. And I get to be the biggest cheerleader for friends and strangers chasing down their dreams. All good and meaningful things that I am ever so grateful for, and that seriosuly are keeping me from going under.
But in those quiet moments when I’m scrolling through instagram looking at all the active-wear and adventures, I feel more alone than I have in a very long time. I take a deep breath, wipe away the tears and plead with the running gods that this will all be over very soon, it just has to be.