Monday, October 27, 2014

What did I expect?

Hard to believe that it has been a month since my last post!  In that month, not much as changed, other than I have been focusing on work (and working too damn much), doing some consulting, trying to have a social life after what is often 60-75 hour (or more) workweeks, and a bit of running... oh... and sleeping.  A little bit of that too.

My hoarding mother is still in her self created world of limited experiences, drama, and petty annoyances overblown to huge crises.  Nothing new there.  

What is new is October heralded two major life events for me.  One is the eight year anniversary at a job that I love (most days) and the other is the completion of a major personal goal, one that has eluded me for 2 years.  I ran a 1/2 marathon this weekend.  And I rocked it, if I say so myself.  Over 32 hours later and I am still in my happy spot, and I am proud of myself... something I cannot say I have ever experienced before.  

Now some folks may be saying to themselves, "So you ran 13.1 miles.  So what?"  And I can understand if you are.  This is a personal, personal goal.  Me against myself, I was not racing the other runners, I was racing ME.  In the past 4-5 years I have slowly lost over 100 pounds and resumed running, an activity I abandoned when I was in my early 20's.  Recently, (2013 and 2014) I have missed 3 half marathons that I have trained for due to a badly scarred Achilles tendon injury, a life threatening and nearly 11 pound tumor 3 months later, and 11 months after that, rupturing my mid line incision.  

Just 11 weeks after a second abdominal surgery, I ran my first 1/2.  I had hoped to run one in September, but it was too soon, as the one 3 weeks earlier was as well.  I had been thinking about this race and was concerned I was not ready.  As is my way, I am either full go or full stop, and in September when I was cleared to run on hills and outside, I hit the road with a vengeance,  logging in 112 miles in a month (and not even a full month, more like just over 2 1/2 weeks).  Predictably to everyone but me, I over trained... And I hit the wall in early October.  My Achilles tendon injury flared again, and I feared that I would have to try a race in November as it looked unlikely I was going to meet my goal.  I did a lot of figurative self-flagellation, and was really frustrated.  

At the last minute, I registered anyway and decided to give it all that I had.  It would be for the experience if not for the likelihood of success. And by registering that late, there was little chance of backing out without losing my registration fee.  Then reality set in.  I had been adding lifting and weight work back into my routine, eating a bit differently, and mixing in other cardio with my runs, but doing frequent but short runs.  WHAT WAS I DOING?  There was a 3 hour sweep, but in my researching races I mistakenly thought this race had a 2:45 sweep.  I am not a fast runner.  My personal record recently is under an 11 mile minute, but my usual is in the mid 12 range.  There was NO WAY I believed I would finish this race before they packed it up.  

Now, several friends had said they wanted to support me in this, cheer me on and cheer me at the finish.  I was honestly touched, appreciative, and also determined that I was not going to have my imminent failure be witnessed by those I hold in such high regard.  I also felt this race, this particular race... Well, it was personal.  This was me against me.  This was me against the medical crises of the past year.  This was me against my own body... or me WITH my own body.  

Long story short, I did it.  I beat 2:45 by 50 seconds. I did it!  I realized the night before that all the negative self talk was going to ensure that I did not succeed, and I was engaging in 'all or nothing' thinking, and hoarder think.  Going to the worst and most hopeless scenario.  The day before I focused on eating and resting, and changing the commentary feedback loop in my head.  The day of, driving to the race, I focused on thoughts of consistency, being strong, and failure was not an option.  I set the goal of between 2:30 and 2:45 to finish.  I was READY.  I was going to do this.  And do it I did.  Was it easy?  NO.  Was it challenging?  Yes.  And I reveled in every mile, and although I would not be able to run a marathon, I felt I could have continued another 5-7 miles.  I had been fighting the injury and the extreme pelvic pain from my surgeries for the final 5 miles, but I was doing okay, and I powered past the pack I was running in the last few hundred yards.  I was so happy and overjoyed.  I DID IT!!!!!  

For me, it was NOT an empty success because I was alone, but that much more striking because of it.  I raced me, and I won.  And I was there to celebrate it at the finish line and to cheer others as they finished. I ran slowly, steadily, and I did it.

Now, this is where hoarding comes in.  I was so happy with my pictures, my medal, my prize, and most of all, the knowledge that I actually did this, that I called my hoarding mother to tell her the next day, which is today.  (I let my friends know via Facebook, and the celebrations are continuing throughout the week... some folks were a bit disappointed I did this on my own, but they understood it.  And I love them for that!)

Ugh.  Why do I do this to myself!?!?  She has no concept of how big a damn deal this was to me.  NONE.  She immediately started with how my father had heart disease an I should be careful... Basically intimating that I was going to die.  I was gobsmacked.  I figured she would find some way to turn the conversation about her, or minimize my achievement, or focus on how crazy she thinks it is, or how dangerous (a woman running alone on the highways... GASP!) but this?  Really?  And she knows how freaking important this is to me.  She cannot even step out of her own stuff for a moment to be proud that I succeeded in completing something that did not come easily.

To my credit, I did not let her steal my pride in overcoming so much, and in achieving one of my goals.  Just five years ago if you would have told me I would be running a half marathon and getting a finisher's medal I would have laughed myself silly. I got off the phone quickly, and my response was one of incredulity.  

I got home and got out of my little car, and as I grabbed my handbag out of the back seat, I noticed the 13.1 sticker I put on my car the day before.  Not to brag, but to remind myself of my ability to overcome, and to never flood myself with self-doubt again.  That 13.1 sticker represents so much.  I did it.  I DID IT.  Before writing this blog, I was looking at full races for the spring.  I hope to do 26.2 before the end of next summer.  And I will do it.  My time frame may be different, and it may take many tries before I achieve it, but I will do it.  The silver lining I took from growing up in the dysfunction and abuse of a hoarding household is dogged persistence and resilience.  It has served me well thus far... And the next race, whether it be a 5K, a 10K, a 13.1 or a 26.2... I will let whomever wishes to come support me and cheer me on do so.  It does not matter if I finish before the race is over, all that matters is that I try, and keep trying.  Not only with running, with letting others be there for me.  That is a lesson that I have to keep learning, but I will get it. 

And my mother?  Her response is just another example of her illness, and her dogged refusal to see anything other than her own limited view of the world.  

Hoarding... no one wins.  But, maybe I can make the best of the challenges I have faced.  I honestly do have little other choice, as I believe life is meant to be lived at full volume.

Thank you for reading!