Coming back up

I have been dreading writing this. No, I have been dreading even thinking about this WordPress site and blogging in general.

It has been a few weeks now, closer to a month probably, since the Cleveland Marathon, or I should say the attempt at the Cleveland Marathon which turned into a sad, wet 10-miler.

Overall, I choked. Remember in Cool Runnings when the team completely failed at the first race and their coach said, “You choked. You were ready and you choked.”

That was me. I can’t even honestly say I was ready though. Physically, sure, I was ready to run the pace, but what is pace when you mentally fail?

I’ll step back. Leading up to the race, I should have known something was not right. My left IT band was sore and tight and I kept ignoring it. Everytime my BF mentioned how we were going to “Kill it” I wanted to hit him and say be quiet. I couldn’t think about the race, I didn’t want to think about the race. This was beyond just normal nervousness. This was sheer panic and dread. And,  I should have realized it. I should have realized I was drowning myself.

Watching the weather I should have known too. It kept getting worse and worse. Midwest Spring weather at its best. The Saturday before the race it was rainy, cloudy, windy and freaking cold.

Sunday? It was rainy, cloudy, snowing, sleeting, basically any type of cold horribleness there is.

Saturday night was a disaster as well, a mistake I should have known better. I made reservations at Bucca Di Beppos, the same weekend as the college’s graduation. So, after waiting an hour for food, as we watched the table next to us order the entire menu and pay a $600 plus bill, we finally get pasta. Cold and covered in spicy flakes and doused in oil. We had to send it back, which I hate doing because it makes me feel bad. The next order came quickly enough, it was only noodles with veggies, but then another 30 mins went by to get the manager to take off the meals and let us pay the bill. I guess a $20 fancy pasta restuarant bill is pretty good though.

The next morning was making the decision on what outfit would keep me as warm as possible and running to the bathroom every ten mins…thanks oily dinner.

The race started and felt fine. Not great. Not excited. Just fine. Five miles in, heading up a “hill” bridge and feeling like I was running backwards, I knew this was going to be bad. By the beginning I was already steps behind Ken (bf) and couldn’t keep up. By mile 7/8 I was in tears and pain. My legs wouldnt move, my IT band was so tight it felt like I was ripping it out of my leg, and my mind was gone.

Ken continued to run then stop and wait, run then look over his shoulder for me. He offered me his headphones and music but I was already gone. My mind was screaming at me to keep racing, to ignore the pain, but my heart was escalating and the panic attack, not being able to breathe began. I had to walk a bit. Thinking back now, I am in shock. How the hell did that happen? Even now I still feel like a wimp and a failure.

Mile 10 came, I saw my mom and sister and was done. I knew 16 more miles would be impossible.

Mom and Ken ran and got the car and my sister and I stayed on the sidewalk of a closed breakfast place shivering in the pouring down rain.

In the car I was able to get rid of some wet clothes, but the embarrassment, no mortification, was not going anywhere. They comforted me of course, but I let them down and forced them to drive 8 hours to watch me do nothing. How do you look someone in the eye after that? I couldn’t even look Ken in the eye. I didn’t even feel like me.

Driving home was four long hours through perfect sunny weather (are you freaking kidding me?) Then, it was home to shower, cry more, have Ken comfort me, realize how bad I was – both physically and mentally –  and how I was going to move forward.

The “When Running Sucks” ice cream cake and Mexican food helped somewhat, but it took days to get me out of the funk.

That was a month ago, as I said. Since then, I have been talking to a counselor who diagnosed me with high levels of anxiety and stress with horrible, horrible coping methods. I probably could have told her that myself.

What I realized over the last weeks is how far I pushed myself, how much pressure I put on myself for what? I was killing myself, beating myself down before I was even at the race! Like I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it. Like I knew I was already going to fail. It was swimming all over again (but that is whole other story).

About two weeks ago, I was been told by three different people that I have never been so happy, so carefree and funny. Without the stress of running and just working out by how I feel, I have been able to relax, do other things, and be myself again. They are compliments yes, but they have scared me too. What happens when I start training again? Am I going to fall back into that mindset? Am I only this fun person when I am not running?

I have been getting the itch again. I got new shoes ordered to the house to wear-test, I am talking with my mom about her upcoming race, watching Western States this weekend, and am finally feeling like a runner again. But, I am scared. I don’t/can’t get myself into that position again. And, I don’t know what to do race wise. A part of me wants to try it again. Redeem myself. Go for that marathon goal because deep down, I know I can do it. I really do.

The other part is saying, No Jess. Take it easy a bit longer. Sign up for a fun 50k/50-mile race and just have fun. Get back on the trails with your friends and keep with the races that you enjoy more and are better at.

I am torn. Which one? Which one? I guess the only answer I have right now is be patient for a few more weeks and see how it goes. Come back from the dread and embarrassment I was drowning myself in and just run, see how I feel, and decide later. I just hope nothing is filled up by then!



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