It’s not being alone that hurts. That is not what makes my heart ache. It’s everything that I pushed aside for the past two years. Everything we fought about. And everything we didn’t, that I chose to ignore. And I no longer can.
Much like my super wise approach to my hip issues, I ran through the pain I felt in my heart. “Stop being such a girl. It’s in your head. You’re overacting. Stop being such a wimp and press on. No pain, no gain.” I used the same dumb ass mantras to justify physical and emotional pain.
The colossal problem with choosing to run through (and in a way, away) from the pain is that it will inevitably catch up to you. One day your hip just will not let you run a single step. One day your heart will not be able to dam up the hurt anymore. So you’ll sit down in the dirt, on the edge of the bike path, and cry into your running shoes.
And you’ll realize you must stop and feel, all of it. Until we stop to feel we cannot heal. So I took two entire months off from running, and emphasized functional strength training. For the first month, various weird pains emerged – my left quad would cramp up, my bursitis would flare up again. As if someone were taking a wrinkly sheet and ironing it out, from top to bottom.
Then one balmy day in February, I knew it was time. If it can hit 60 degrees on a February day in upstate New York, than anything is possible, right? I embraced the idea that nothing is impossible, and ran 3 miles, then waited 48 hours. Ok, no alarming pain here! So I ran again, this time for 30 minutes, not even daring to look at the pace on my watch. I called Miah to tell him, and we actually talked for an hour on the phone.
What changed? I have a few theories. It could be diet. I cut out all gluten AND meat, and unintentionally cut out all candy and treats (too hard to find gluten-free versions). All of which are known to promote inflammation in the body. So time off from running in combination with a removal of inflammatory influences helped. And although still quiet and a little unstable, many of the inflammatory influences in my life have been removed from my emotional environment, allowing me to feel and to heal.
I tested this theory of inflammation over the weekend. I raced the Runnin of the Green with Kelly, Joe and Steve in the bitter cold (15 degrees at best). It wasn’t my fastest pace, but I’ll take 4 miles at a 7:15 pace over not running at all! I finished the race feeling free and lighter than I have in a long time, as if some weight has been lifted. And my hip didn’t even protest, so a shift has definitely occurred. I’m sure being obsessive about using my bands to do the warm ups and cool downs that Jerry at Next Level Physical Therapy gave me is a huge contributing factor!
Post race, I joined my Loco family at Mohawk Taproom for lunch, where I proceeded to consume fish tacos (still meat free) on a flour shell (oops, gluten!) which I washed down with two beers (uh oh, more gluten)! Dinner that night was a pretzel the size of my face, which I inhaled at the Garth Brooks concert (still the best show I have ever attended)! I woke up on Sunday delighted to find that my hip STILL felt fantastic. But I had a sore throat, which progressively got worse, despite my efforts to cure myself with my magical homemade orange juice elixir. I have somehow managed to ward off every single cold and bug that went around for almost a year. Seriously, the last time I was sick was April 2016… until now!
That didn’t keep me from running on Monday though! I ran a modified version of my 15k route, then stopped by the Delmar house to get a few of my things that had been transplanted in Miah’s move. He happened to be there on his lunch break, and we chatted for a few minutes. He drove away as I went inside to retrieve one of my boxes. I looked around at a house that is clearly not my home. And I allowed myself to completely absorb that reality. My heart? Fine.
By dinner time, my sore throat was a full blown cold, but my hip? Completely fine. Has my anti-inflammatory life cured me? Possibly. It’s also possible that my body and heart just needed to check into this place of feeling and healing. But what about the cold? I think the culprit is obvious… Gluten. My body simply won’t tolerate it. For the past three years, every time I try to reintroduce it into my diet, nasty stuff happens. Lesson learned!
I may be skipping my run today in favor of watching the blizzard from behind a box of tissues. But this time it is not because I’m crying into them over loves lost. For now, this gift of running has been restored to me, just when I had begun to lose hope. Perhaps I haven’t lost ALL I love actually. Perhaps my heart and body just needed an environment that was calm enough for processing the pain, cultivating healing and believing in the impossible.