Thursday, October 15, 2015

A curious thing happened

This is the longest I’ve gone without blogging since I started in 2009. At first, it was because I couldn’t find the time, trying to juggle my full-time work at Austin Spark League, a two-week summer program that My Guy and I cofounded with another friend, and full-time parenting while dealing with a mysterious medical condition that often times felt worse for my emotional state than my physical health. When Austin Spark League was over, it was finally time for our first real vacation in nearly a year and my birthday celebration in Chicago. After we returned from a wonderful time with our friends, My Guy went on a business trip for about a week - the last one right before school started - and the next thing you know, with the chaos of school thrown into the mix, I was already feeling the burden of a blogging backlog.

There was so much I’d wanted to capture for the record - the amazing experience of Austin Spark League, going back to the city with which I’ve had a love affair for the past 16 years, celebrating a milestone birthday with my people, Little Miss' first day of first grade.

Wow! So much to say, but where could I possibly start? That’s an overwhelming abundance of memories and emotions that I had to find time to record, but as time disappeared, so did my recollection of these moments that seemed so important at the time. And because I didn't know where to begin, I couldn't.

But then a curious thing happened.

After months of not seeing a Runner’s World magazine in my mailbox, I was surprised to find it among my pile of bills and junk mail yesterday. That’s odd.

I didn’t renew my subscription because I hadn’t been running since the end of April, when I was struck by this mysterious ailment that impeded my mobility -- I could barely walk or turn my neck, let alone run. In fact, I even had to quit yoga, another one of my favorite things.

It took me awhile to reintroduce physical activity back into my life after several weeks of gritting my teeth as I did anything that required me to use my joints. WHICH WAS EVERYTHING.

That’s when depressing thoughts descended on me like a pack of hungry wolves. Or bunnies, if you're not into violence. Doctors couldn’t give me a definite diagnosis, which also meant my prognosis was uncertain. Will I ever be able to run again?

Instead of sinking into that dreaded maelstrom of self-loathing - what the hell is wrong with my body?! I’m strong, I’m healthy, why can’t I beat this thing? - I decided to get moving to battle whatever that threatened to swallow me whole.

I started swimming laps, which was the only thing that gave my pain some sort of relief as the movement helped loosened my joints. Then I slowly added low-impact elliptical exercises to my repertoire. About a month ago, I stopped taking meds altogether - no pain relievers, no steroids - and when I realized I could still function, I decided to give yoga a try again and success! I’ve been back at it since, although I still avoid the headstand. I didn't want to push my luck.

The recovery has been slow, but I doubt hurrying it would take me back to my old self faster. I’m not 100% yet - I still have trouble with my shoulder, feet, hand and hips, but I don’t need help getting out of the car, so that’s certainly progress.

This past weekend was the Chicago Marathon, where a friend who started running the same time I did completed this remarkable feat. I couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishment, although I didn’t find myself wishing I could’ve run it with her. I just felt the pang of not being able to run. Period.

When the magazine showed up two days later, I couldn’t help myself. I flipped through the pages with my coffee in hand this morning, and several inspiring stories later, I arrived at this: why can’t I run again?

If it’s that important to me, surely I can find a way to do it.

And I did!

I ran on the wooded trail outside my gym with the sun on my face. It was a mere 15 minutes of slow, continuous running, but it was a glorious 15 minutes.

It didn’t take long for muscle memory to kick in. Yes, this is what it feels like. I also remembered that we get so much more from running than just burning calories. Today, what I got from it was this: Running seemed impossible during those nights when My Guy had to help turn my body from one side to another in bed because it hurt too much to do it myself as I desperately tried to sleep, but if I can eventually find my way back to running, perhaps I can find a way back to blogging.

So here I am.

And maybe, just maybe, years later, should I experience another setback - as I most likely will because such is life - I can look back on this difficult summer through these words and find the courage and the strength to keep going until I find my way back to myself again.