Yesterday I raced a 10k. It was my first race in over four years.
I didn’t PR. I didn’t win my age group. The time was nothing remarkable.
This is the most proud of myself I’ve ever been after a race.
The last four (really five) years have been difficult for a lot of reasons. A complicated relationship with running was developed as a product of that time. The loss of a pastime that had always been so special to me and such an important part of my life became a metaphor for the rest of it. Confusion and anger and frustration over myself as a person in the world. And ultimately, a deep depression.
I hid this episode the way I had trained for races. The hiding it became a daily practice that I honed like a skill. Practice makes perfect, and now I’m a dubious expert. I wonder if anyone can tell that I’m still living in this pit.
But I’m no longer sitting on the floor. I’m on the ladder. Sometimes I’m climbing.
Yesterday, I got myself to the starting line. I put one foot in front of the other and propelled forward. I nudged myself a little harder with each mile, and didn’t stop once. The few small hills sprinkled throughout the course, I welcomed the challenge. I zoned out and was closer to the end with each step. “Workhouse” is the best descriptor I can come up with, and one I wouldn’t normally use in the same sentence with myself.
I’ve spent a lot of this time planning but not actually doing. Thinking I’d train myself back to my fastest times and then I would be allowed to run a race. At some point it dawned on me that if I kept following that rule, I’d never race, never try, never fail…but never have a chance. I have to BE better, DO better, and only then can I have the things that could maybe make me happy. That was the rule.
This race was a personal proud moment for me, and I spent the majority of the day feeling “up”. At night, I found myself 20 tissues deep in a good, long, cleansing, cathartic cry. Expelling some of whatever the toxic substance that had taken up residence inside me a long time ago? Maybe. I think so.
For now, I think I’ll put on foot in front of the other, propel forward, nudge a little harder, and see if I can end up on the other side of a finish line. Or two.