Thursday, 20 March 2014

Resilience



I'm not training, but I'm training.

Every weekday, my alarm goes off at 5am (6am on weekends). I groan, roll over, turn on the coffee, and make the quick drive to Hillcrest. Usually my car just starts to warm up by the time I pull into the parking lot. I put on my swim cap and goggles and swim for an hour. Then I drive home, do my core, do my balance, more coffee, and work.

A year ago, two years ago, I was waking up and pounding out 10, 15, 20km tempos before work with my running partners. I had a lightness in my blood and saw a clear path ahead. I was sad, then, and anxious, and maybe confused - but each footstep calmed my thoughts, each kilometer cleared my head - I kept it together, and I kept it more than together.

A month ago, I was in a boot. I am almost two weeks out, and soon to start building up. Wearing matching shoes has never felt so good. Everything I thought as optional cross-training - yoga, walking, core, biking - has suddenly become sweet to me. For the past two months off, I strove to develop temporary amnesia of what I used to do, what I wanted to do, and focused instead on what I could do. Pool, darkness, waking up stroke by stroke.

Even though I am far from the runs I want to do, I am still training my head. My head is what helps me win on good days, and makes me struggle to get out of bed on bad ones.

Last November, I was running downhill on trails with Ramsey and my former husband. I was going fast, and working to go faster. I took a drop wrong, and rolled my ankle. I swore, and cried, and took an easier route back to the car. Ramsey was concerned about my ankle, but more concerned about my head. He told me, "we need to work on your resilience." I listened, but not really. I didn't do more physio, I didn't do more core - I felt like there was no fight left in me.

Back in January, Ramsey tried to fix my foot. The end result was more painful than before. He looked at me: "You need to get a bone scan." I cried on his table. At our mindfulness session after, the guided meditation was interrupted by my muffled sobs. I cried that week - and then I looked at the pool schedules, looked at pool running classes, and kept going. I started to fight. I've raced marathons, gotten up to run 50km in the snow as a training run, raced for 6 days straight - and nothing was harder than getting up to do those first few workouts on the stationary bike, in the pool.

I'm not training my body, I'm not even sure if I'm training my cardio - but I'm training my head and my heart. Every day - on the good ones, and the bad ones - I tell myself: "Resilience." It's all training.

Resilience is packing up my things in my old apartment on a rainy January Saturday with the help of a girlfriend ("this is going to be fun!" she said, and picked a great playlist). Resilience is every client meeting with a boot. Resilience is attempting to walk up stairs with groceries. Resilience is waking up tired, waking up sad, waking up hungover, and turning off my  brain long enough to make it to the pool, make it through those first 500m. Resilience is loving, and losing, and going on. Resilience is walking down to English Bay - the first pain-free steps, the gleam on the ocean, the sharp sunlight on my face. Resilience is the blind dumb hope that every small step now will somehow get me closer to being back on the mountains for hours.

Resilience is like racing - I do it alone, but at the same time, I am surrounded by a community every step of the way. The friends who let me stay with them, who call me to check in, who fly from another province to spend an improbably snowy weekend with me, who find non-running activities to invite me to, who send me swim workouts or wetsuit sales or Stephen King blogs (everyone needs a guilty-pleasure author!).

So I'll eventually make it back - maybe in a month, maybe three, the Dr gave my foot an "all-clear" but I want to ease back slowly. And my ankle healed, and the rest of me is healing, too. And when I start, I'll be slow, and a bit awkward, and rusty. But none of that matters, because I have had every day strengthening my heart and my head: yes, it hurts, and yes, it isn't easy, but I still get up, get out the door, and keep moving forward.

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