You’ve been hearing a lot from us Salty girls lately, and I’m no exception. My running life is all complicated right now, Santa, and I just realized that I’m still running away. Even though I love the running so much.
If you look at all my posts this year, you’ll see me vacillating back and forth, back and forth. I love 100 milers and I still don’t understand why I can’t have a baby. I say in one breath that infertility is the only thing I’ve ever had to endure that running couldn’t fix – or at least help – and in the next breath I’m talking about doing a jam-packed double-training cycle so I can peak first for Rocky Raccoon 100, and then again 10 weeks later to run a fast Boston. I can beat my quads, calves, abs and glutes into quick submission with 100 mile weeks, 40 mile training runs and 800-meter repeat workouts to boot – but one failed month of infertility treatments sends me running for the hills, literally and figuratively.
I wrote about embracing the fear of failure earlier this fall, about “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” but the truth of the matter is, I can saddle back up for running – even after last year’s epic wrong turn at mile 98.5 on the Rocky Raccoon course. It cost me the second place female spot, but the technical DNF after 104 miles only fired me up even more for this year. I’ve been chasing a sub-19 hour 100-miler for two years and three races now, and while I don’t know the exact timing, I know damn well that it will happen.
But one month of those crappy shots, the ones that make me so tired and bloated and fill me with so much false hope – well, those just leave me on my back with no will to go on.
You see, Santa, maybe I’ve had this whole thing in reverse. I’ve been using my running as an escape from the infertility instead of a teacher. Maybe it’s not that my struggle with infertility has made me a stronger runner, but that being such a strong runner can make me a better infertility patient. Maybe I need to realize that even though I might be facing epic failure after putting months of training and sacrifice in, I haven’t truly committed the way I needed to. Sure, I’ve done a solid long run here and there, and I’ve run some impromptu speed and fartlek workouts, but I certainly haven’t done anything structured. I’ve had a good month here and there, suffered a setback, and just … you know, stopped. But still kept hoping for the perfect race.
Well, we all know how that usually works out.
But I’m scared, Santa, because it hurts so bad and we sacrifice so much when we do it. Emotionally, physically and financially, it’s like signing up to get your a$$ kicked by someone bigger and stronger than you. Month after month after month.
Maybe this sounds more like a “Dear God” letter, and maybe it is. So here’s the thing, Santa: I’m not going to ask you for a baby. First of all, that would be stupid, and second of all, there’s no way in hell or conscience I could ask you for that before I asked you to bring BACK all the babies that were lost in Newtown last week. And that’s a sacrifice I’d make, Santa, because that’s who I am. If you told me that if I agreed never to have a baby, you could bring those 20 babies back, I’d take that deal in a second. Because you don’t have to be a parent to understand that nightmare. Trust me, Santa, teaching a Sunday School class of 4 – 6 years olds brings that home real quick.
No, Santa, I’m going to ask you to help me do the hardest thing I’ve ever done: to help me face the fear of failure. Because I can commit to this after Rocky Raccoon, truly commit to the four to six consecutive months they’ve asked for – but there are going to be moments that it breaks me. Days that I can’t face the track; nights that I lie in bed with twitching muscles, aching parts and beating heart. Hours that seem endless, and minutes that I can only ask, again and again, “why are we doing this to ourselves?”
I talk a lot about how much running has taught me; I can wax poetic on all the gifts. But now, Santa, I have to do the hardest thing ever. I have to go into the woods in the middle of the night and keep going, no matter how tired and nauseous and worn I am. Everything I needed to know about myself I learned from running. But now it’s time to apply the lesson, and I’m scared.
Dear Santa, I can’t believe how lucky I am. I have a warm home, good food, two cars, and a husband that manages to love and adore me in spite of myself and in spite of the day to day challenges of this thing called marriage. And though it pinches, we’re blessed enough to have the financial resources to pursue our options without going into debt.
I’m pretty much the luckiest girl in the world, Santa, coming out of the ghetto with a cocaine addict for a mother and a father who died of cancer when I was 12. I took out student loans, got an education, started running, and married the man of my dreams. My life is better than I ever dreamed it would be – better even than the fairy tale.
You know what, Santa? I was going to ask for strength, but I realize now that I have it, and when I don’t have it, I’ll find it. After all, I’ve got great people around me to help.
Thanks for listening, Santa. I think that’s all I needed after all. Actually, thanks for everything.
Merry Christmas, Santa. I’ll always believe.