Where do I even begin...
June 10th 2022
A mere 5K run, not a whole dang lot yet an accomplishment I am trying not to diminish and shove away into that space in my mind where the lost things go.
To say I was overwhelmed with emotion at the finish line is a bit of an understatement (apologies to the girl trying to hand me my first race medal that I rudely pushed asside as I was trying to catch my breath)
I can't decide if it was the "covid lungs" the 10 ish mile hike (with an elevation change of 1,500 feet) we had done the morning before, or getting up at 4 am and running on a cliff bar and an orange...
Or was it the journey to get to that specific day, place and time?
Most people that know me will say "Carla does not do RUNNING" We are like oil and water, trying to get into it for a decade and it just wouldnt stick.
Around 2010 after seeing my sister, my now husband and a few friends run a half Marathon, I was, lets say "inspired" to give it an honest go. I would buy the expensive, maticulously chosen runners and acompanying gear. Do a couch to 5k programme and at the end of it all I too will hold a cheaply made medal to prove my worth and limitless ability once and for all. If everyone else is doing it, why can't I?
Maybe not so fast... I did try, and again, and again but, running sucks, my lungs feel like I am dying, my feet won't communicate with my brain and what is the hype about anyways?
It usually lasted 2 weeks, maybe a month if I put my mind to it. This was the pattern for about 9 years... 9 years during which I got married, birthed and raised two babies, and 4 years of the daily battle to nevermind couch to 5 but simply couch to ... normal, daily activities such as eating a proper meal or taking a decent shower.
Something in my brain clicked (maybe it was being properly medicated after years of PPD) or, they say (you know "THEY") that something in your brain puts two and two together and you suddenly stick to it, you eat the meals, you lace up regardless of motivation and you just do it..
I was a runner in the making, 3 to 4 runs a week, releasing those well needed endorphins and feeling wonderfully acomplished. I even stuck to it for the majority of a Saskatchewan Winter ... kudos to me!!!
That December I was placed on a lengthy waiting list for an overdue Hip Scope, due to a self inflicted injury caused by a reckless teenager on a quad. I was nervously excited for the surgery that would commence within a 4-6 month window, I was strong which would make recovery a breeze and I have been preparing for this surgery, Mentally, for over 14 years.
If you are following along and can do simple math you will know we are inching towards the unspoken year of 2020. A year that took its toll on most of us. To state the obvious, my runs or commitment thereof, became infrequent and eventually diminished into nothingness. So lets just skip to 2021 already...
This was unexpected, I had placed any and all thoughts and expectations surrounding this surgery in that same box of lost things I mentioned before and was not at all physically or mentally prepared for it. Nonetheless, I agreed to the date. Postponed clients and prepared for the aftermath of this surgery, watched a video on how its done (highly do NOT recommend) and counted down to the min to the day of, which felt like impending doom.
The recovery was challenging, I never knew my house had so many stairs till I came home and had to figure out how to get to the bathroom. I did it though... it wasn't all sunshine and roses, my mother bathed me, made sure I was fed and watered as needed and did my laundry (aren't moms the best?). Before I knew it I was launching myself through Walmart Isles one leg and two crutches at a time and figured out how to go about life abnormally normally.
About 3 to 4 months later I begged my Physio to let me run... my legs were restless and I knew deep down that I was strong enough to get to it, and be successfull at it too. That cheaply made medal was still glistening in the back of my mind and I wanted it more than ever.
So we started, baby steps... 200 m walk 200 m run, 5 reps and no more than 3 times a week. Is this what turtles feel like???? I grew impatient, this process was much too slow and eventually I pushed the limits. Think one step forward two steps back... My shins werent having it any longer... my body was telling me to slow down and I wouldnt listen, to the point where I could no longer ignore the obvious. I was injuring myself.
Early Spring 2022, my legs werent having it, I would get away with a solid run then having to heal up for a week or two before I could go again.
Little voices inside my head and from those around me were saying
"Why are you doing this"
"Just stop its not worth it"
"Just buy new runners"
"You are not doing it properly"
"Run more often"
"Run past the pain"
"You arent strong enough"
I was watching from the sideline, friends and family going on their run with little to no effort. Signing up for yet another half marathon.
Receiving Instagram posts meant to motivate you but instead adds to the inadequacy.
I am naturally athletic, I should be able to do this...
Crying didnt help either, but eventually discipline and distance did. You see, we live in a world where everything feels like an impossible to win competition. Every day I would hold my breath before opening up my social media pages (which thanks to marketing demands I can't remove from my life) because I knew that I would see normal people going about their lives normally and winning at life as if it was a normal occurence... I think most people feel this way, peeking into perfectly curated and unatainable lifestyles.
SO firstly discipline... strength training, running one min on one min off.. still pain but keep searching for the answer.
Secondly Distance... this is my journey, no one elses, its obvious I can't keep up so focus on yourself and celebrate however small the progress.. its progress.
Then the mountains came calling, my sister and friend(that best friend I only get to see once every 5-10 years) asked me to tag along as they were doing a half marathon trail run in Yellowstone Montana. I would go for the views and cheer them on!
I got curious and found there was a 5 k run and signed up immediately. Its 5k, I have ran that and more before, and am still alive. If anything it will be fun.
I had two months to get my ass in gear and did everything possible to do just that.
A few Physios, another pair of new runners, consistency, a healthy foot practitioner, more forget about the rest run your own race speeches in my own head and before I knew it the week of our trip was on my doorstep.
The house was a global disaster as per usual, the laundry was spewing into the hallway and I had a list longer than I would like to admit, of to do's in order to make the boys week run as smoothly as possible.
A solid morning's worth of procrastination then I got to it. The normal cleaning routine, pick up all items not placed there by thyself, fold the crinkly laundry and wash the mountain of dishes. Then pack...
all it took was a dryer sheet on the floor... a mindless task setting me up for failure.
I slowly lowered myself to the floor and laid on my back for a good min trying to compose myself and debate every possible scenario to follow. Maybe I cancel.. clearly my body and mind is trying to sabotage me. Call the chiropractor and hope they can squeeze me in .. they did, an hour later I was realligned but in excruciating pain.
The next morning we set off. An 8 hour drive to Billings to pick up our friend then another 3 hour drive to Big Sky. I packed enough pain killers to medicate a "Merca" Sized Bison. Come hell or high water I Will keep up with the (Labrador energized like) humans if it kills me! And I did, 4 am mornings, 10 - 15 mi hike days , more beautiful views than my mind can process, followed by late nights, refeueling and getting atleast 5 hours of sleep before we do it all again.
My back was warmed up and ready for the race, it would have been our "drive and sight see "day so I would be well rested before 6 pm. But, there was too much to see and not enough time to do it all. Up at 4 am we started making our way around the Northern Loop in the Park towards Mount Washburn. Its a 2.5 mi hiking trail to the top of the Snow Covered Mountain.
Not that far, and as if we don't know how to walk through a bit of slushy snow... we went as far as our bravado could muster and decided the last .5 mi were to be seen on a warmer day.
We continued the loop and saw as many highlights as the day allowed... I couldnt help but feel that Yellowstone is an accident waiting to happen. Its both thrilling and terrifying standing 20 feet away from a Geyser blasting boiling water about 30-40 feet in the air. The park has so much to see and for the most part I found it family friendly, with walking paths guiding you accross the entire park.
I lost my moxie around 1 pm, the lack of sleep combined with a numb and constant achy back started multiplying my already unsettled nerves for the seemingly unnecessary race that was to follow our escapades.
I put myself in a timeout and took a 20 min nap. Then was rudely awoken by an announcement "a wolf" ! Even though I would say this is my spirit animal, I have an irrational phobia for wolves. The debate team is still out on wether or not we saw a wolf or a Yellowstone Size (Merca Size) Coyote, I loved seeing wildlife other than Bison and Elk (although both these animals are magestically beautiful as you can imagine) a very playful young Wolf/Coyote?!
What followed was a rush of events to get to the starting line, grab bib from expo. Check into our cabin which was 30 min out of West Yellowstone, shower and head right back for THE RUN.
Gratitude, for legs that didnt fail me in that moment, for feet that found a clear line of communication with my brain on both pavement and trail towards the finish line.
Relief, the day has come and gone, I completed my mission so to speak and in my hands was the most beautiful medal I have ever seen. Its no half marathon but its been a hell of a journey.
Pure and utter exhaustion, I have been home for 3 nights and I still can't keep my eyes open for the majority of the day.
Saturday Morning was the Half Marathon, I dropped the girls off and cheered them on as they set off. I knew I had about 2 hours to either take a nap or have a peaceful coffee and or breakfast by myself. I chose the latter, I found a quiet little cafe at 7 am and sat down with my journal. I pondered for a while if all of my thoughts and emotions needed to land on paper but as we all know, some things are better when not bottled up and tucked away.
I scribbled away with my Americano and was met with pleasant staff allowing me my space as I jotted down these moments in time.
Two hours later the girls crossed the finish line, I am so proud to be surrounded by people chasing a high from mother natures beauty and fresh air. They allow me to grow at my own pace and I hope to cross the finish line with them one day too.
Our trip ended with uncontrollable laughter as we got caught in the rain you are reading about in the news, and were forced to have our last hoorah in Yellowstone Branded sweatpants and hoodies. Items that will bring me comfort physically and mentally for years to come.
Now why the hell did you have to read all this way.. you didn't have to but I appreciate it.
So many times we feel that the road we are running, walking or crawling along, is a lonely one. That we are doing and feeling something that no one understands and that no one has experienced. But that is not true. This is a tale lived by many, a daily fight to do a miniscule amount of living to just keep living. And keeping our S#it together so we can keep up with the appearance of a perfectly curated unatainable life meant to entertain and inspire those "following" along.
If this resonates, I salute you for continuing to get up and try..
I share and will continue to share these life experiences in the hopes that someone else doesnt feel alone in their journey, trying to accomplish the normal looking activities.
Its so much more than what it seems.
for me anyways.