Well, it’s that time of year. The time when I reflect on the year that’s past and what lies ahead.
This was a big year. Bigger than I expected, in many ways. I experience so much more than I ever intended to, in both good and bad, happy and sad ways. The bad and the sad aren’t things I like talking about. Does anyone enjoy talking about those things? Probably not. At least, not to anyone who isn’t a therapist, right? And I promise I’ve done more than my fair share of that.
There are many lessons that I learned this year. It’s hard to go through some of what I’ve dealt with and not learn at least something. I learned more about myself than I ever thought possible, to be honest. But there’s one big important lesson I learned this year that I hope to carry with me forever.
Back in February, when my life seemed like it was falling apart (and, for all intents and purposes, it was), I found comfort in the treadmill. For no reason other than escapism, I started running. I didn’t have a goal or a purpose in mind. I just needed something to focus on that wasn’t anything going on around me. So I ran. I downloaded a million different apps until I found the one I loved and I ran and ran and ran. I have plenty of friends that are hardcore distance runners so I tried to make my intentions very clear with my running: I was NOT going to run for a reason. I wasn’t going to enter races or try to prove anything or try to keep up with them. I just needed something healthy to do.
Then the end of spring came and, like clockwork, I broke my own promise and thought, “If I can run one mile, surely I can run 13, right?” and I signed up for a race. The one thing I said I wouldn’t do. But it gave me a goal which, retrospectively, I really needed. And I slowly – very slowly – began the process of training for a distance race. It was hard and often unpleasant. I discovered each weekend how many damn hills are in my city and how those hills would slow down my already dismal pace. But patience. All I had to do was finish. I wasn’t racing anyone buy myself. I would be gone for hours and hours on the weekends, just running. I’d find myself in “therapy sessions” with my best good running friend for additional hours during the week and in the mountains. Patience. Patience. Patience.
I took a week off and discovered I had to scale my training back in order not to hurt myself. I hate that feeling. I hated feeling like I was moving backwards in my training. I hated feeling like I wasn’t keeping up with whatever I wasn’t keeping up with. Except that I *was* keeping up. It was just me and my trusty tennis shoes and we were doing just fine.
I finally ran my big race with one of my best friends (a girl is lucky to have one…I get to have two! And – bonus – they’re both runners!) and OH. MY. GAWD. The patience it took to finish it. I started too hard, too fast, and two-thirds of the way in, I was just about down for the count. I’d run for 15 steps and walk for a quarter-mile. And this is how I finished the race. My best friend had extraordinary patience with my injured knee and me. She kept me on track and simultaneously focused and distracted (a skill we should all perfect at some time) and we finished together.
My knee (actually my IT band) took me out of the game really fast. I haven’t been able to really run since September 30, but what I’ve learned is….patience. My knee knows what it needs. I know it will take time to recover and that I *can* recover with just a little time and, well, patience. So I take it slow, knowing that one mile will eventually turn into two, then five, then thirteen again before I know it. I have time so I might as well use it. I train, albeit slowly. Because nothing worth having happens fast…at least, not from what I can tell.