November 16, 2011

Raw Running Emotion

I am so tired of being so beaten down. I used to be a runner. I used to walk out of my front door, start my watch, and run for two hours straight with maybe five minutes of walking thrown in there for good measure. I used to run half marathons. I used to be a runner.

Now I feel like an impostor. I feel like a girl who doesn't even deserve to walk onto the track with the rest of the team. I feel like my body is getting crushed every time my feet hit the pavement. I feel like a failure at the one thing in life that I've always claimed as mine.

Running used to be my escape. It was my saving hobby. The one place where I could think when my world fell apart. I ran when Papa was diagnosed with Parkinsons. I ran ten miles that day. I ran when Jenn moved off to college and I was left in a new town facing challenges alone. I ran through the loneliness of moving. I ran my way through being "just another girl" whose heart could be played. When things have gone wrong over the past three years, the only way I could handle them, the only was that my mind was ever at ease, was running.

I know the streets of Ponca City like the back of my hand. I know which trees start to change color first out by the lake. I know where the pavement ends and the gravel begins. I know where there is no pavement at all. I know the places where I always see deer on my runs. I can remember watching flocks of bluebirds flying across the fields. I've raced horses against fence lines. I've felt the freedom of the road.

And I am breaking down after two laps around a track. Now I'm breaking down when my coach asks me how I feel. Now I am crying in the backseat of my friend's car after practice because my body hurts and my spirit feels crushed.

I've been fighting so hard through cross country. I knew that competing hurt, but even if I couldn't compete I was going to practice with everything that I had. I knew that sitting out the races was in my best interest, but I hated that feeling of watching my team mates cross the finish line and knowing that maybe I should have fought through the pain and just ran. But I knew, I was hoping, that I would get better as we went along. I've been hoping that my body would begin to feel strong again as the weeks went by and my strength training increased. Instead, I am left here, sitting in the second floor of the library on this cold November day, contemplating the reasons why I even run anymore.
I could have quit the team today. I started practice with high hopes. I wanted to push through and give it everything I had. That's what gets me down...I want to do my best. I want to try. But I just keep stumbling and cutting my reps short. I keep falling down over and over again and I don't know how to get back up.

I know why I used to run. I know why I love the sport so much. It's the freedom I feel when my back is to the sun and I am free from the worries and stresses that consume life. It's the exhilaration in my heart when I look back at the distance that I have covered and I can honestly say, "I ran that distance. I covered it with my own two feet. I crossed the finish line."

I know the reasons why my heart feels free on the open road. It's the gypsy in me. The wanderer. It's the part of my heart that is only satisfied when I'm running. Running through airports. Running through new towns and states and new countries. It's the part of my life that I feel like will never be fully satisfied this side of heaven. Running, moving my feet down a path when I do not know where it leads. That drive to explore and keep going pushes me forward in everything that I do. Running calms my restless heart for a few hours.

But today, today I am beaten down. I am tired of trying to run through pain. Today, today I could give up on everything. Just walk away from the pain it takes to keep going. But I won't. I never will. I don't think I ever really could. Even if I'm crawling, I'll still fight for this. Even when the tears come easier and easier, I can't abandon the movement that I am so loyal to. Even if it breaks me, I can never stop running.

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