“Life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere. Stormy weather, just can’t get my poor self together. I’m weary all the time.”
We had a Nor’easter here in New England on Friday. I stayed indoors for most of it, not looking outside. I binged-watched Twin Peaks as the lights flickered a few times. I didn’t give it a thought as I went to bed, just another day of crappy weather. When I awoke Saturday morning for my 8 mile long run, I was amazed at what I saw. Closed roads, downed trees, DPW vehicles everywhere scrambling to lift giant tree trunks. I scooted under some fallen trees and felt the debris roll under my feet as I tried to increase my pace, trying to stay focused on something.
My life has felt a bit out of control lately.
The weather was a familiar sight – last Sunday I ran the Hyannis Half Marathon. On race day, it basically felt like we were running in a monsoon – torrential downpours and deafening wind that turned my hands into useless claws. I was using this race as sort of a test, as I hadn’t run a half in over a year. I was on week 3 of my new training plan for a sub-two hour half and I just sort of threw it in to get a pulse on where I was with distance racing. Testing things out is a part of my personality. I can’t shut it off. It’s why I went into business analytics for my chosen career. I wasn’t planning on doing a sub-2 (I was only on week 3 after all!) but I wanted to see how close I could come. How much do I need to move the needle to improve? I’m always trying to improve, this is one of the reasons I started running in the first place – measurable results.
At the start of the race, I began to panic as I tried to pull up my playlist. I had my phone in a ziplock, but my wet hands were just not able to get my music to work. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get through this race with no sound, mentally I needed the distraction. I finally got it working and put it away, knowing the whole thing could fall apart if I touched it again. I trudged into the wetness, rain pelting the left side of my head. There were many large puddles to move around. Unfortunately this mostly put me in the mud, but I managed to keep my socks dry for the first 5 miles anyway. After that, everything was wet so I didn’t pay much attention to the puddles. At the halfway mark I noticed I was just around 1 hour. If I could keep it together I could possibly sub-2 in this race. I imagined the tears that would come seeing the clock and then my announcement of my retirement from running. Just as a joke of course.
However, the conditions did prove to be quite difficult. At mile 9 I dug some energy gel out of my pocket and realized my hands did not work anymore. My fingers were frozen in position so I tried to rip the package open with my teeth as I painfully grabbed a water from a volunteer. The rain was in my face as a cop stopped me from crossing the road, since drivers were getting impatient. At the next water stop, a volunteer was pushing Gatorade on me, but I just yelled out “water!” as I tried to grab a cup from the next table. My permanently frozen hands knocked over a row of waters as I desperately grabbed for anything that I could pour down my throat. Around 12.9, I think my watch read 1:58 and I thought “I’m not going to make it.” Just then I saw my parents and my aunt & uncle cheering me on from the side lines. I waved frantically and picked up the pace. I will finish this strong, I thought. They gave me the added boost of support I needed. As I crossed the finish line, I saw the 2 hour mark already there and I thought, Damn. However, my results did show a significant PR at 2:01:07. Not bad for a monsoon.
All the dark clouds above my head reminded me of the storm that was going on in my head. A few weeks back, I lost my job and the pain and confusion surrounding it has caused some real anxiety. I had hoped to not be in this position again for awhile, I hate the process of putting yourself out there, making yourself vulnerable and asking for help that is required. But here I am, not knowing what will happen in the next few months, unable to really make any plans for my future. More stress upon stress, as thoughts whip around my brain with turbulent force.
Seeing the aftermath from this most recent storm surprised me. Large branches blocked the sidewalks almost everywhere I went. An extremely large tree was uprooted and lay across an entire street, making it completely impassible. As I made my way around one of the obstacles on the bike path, I saw the DPW trucks jumping into action, pulling branches and towing whole trees out of the way. As I watched the clean up crew doing their job, I thought about what I needed to do. It’s time to focus on cleaning up the aftermath and getting myself back.
The storms have cleared and I need to focus on my goals, both running and career. I know I can be tough enough to weather even the stormiest of weather. I just need to believe it.