My Feet Want a Divorce
Every step I take today is a reminder that my feet want a divorce. There is a gigantic blister on the ball of my right foot. The bones on the sides of both feet ache. I still have all my toenails but that is really the only positive thing I can say about the state of my size elevens.
On Saturday I did my first ultra run. Technically, I don’t know that I can call it an ultra given that I didn’t complete more than a marathon, but almost every other runner in the 6 hour race did. I’ll spare you the play by play (you can find it on my personal blog if you are into race reports) but I’ll say that I’ve never had a race challenge me as much physically and mentally as this one did.
On the physical level, this race just hurt. The first 4 hours felt fine and then my hips and knees and feet all just got progressively more and more painful. I’ve done races where I’ve been spent and tired at the end but as soon as I stopped running I felt better. After this race I just kept hurting. It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, stairs were my nemesis. I think I just did not have enough time on my feet training and it showed.
Mentally this race was hard not because I was going to finish last (which I did) because I really did not even given a tiny little shit about that but because it forced me to stay in a place of voluntary discomfort for so long. One of the nice things about this race is that they let you have pacers come run with you, so in addition to my amazing husband who pushed our son in a jogging stroller for 10 (!) miles, my friend E. came out to walk with me. She happened to come out toward the end when I was struggling to finish and was at my most whiny. I said my frequent lament (“WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF??”) and she said “Why do you do this? I know you have a reason.”
At the time I couldn’t really articulate a reason. I think I was too busy wanting to collapse.
After the race though I thought about it and the best answer that I can come up with is that I am trying to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Not to get all therapy session up in here, but I feel like this race helped me realize that I have an internal hesitation about being too aspirational, about striving too much. My family seems to have an ethos that life is a thing to be survived, that there is no point in really trying because life will just beat you down in the end: You’ll always be debt, you have fat genes, you’re just average. Not coincidentally, many of the members of my immediate family struggle financially and/or with their health and weight.
There are things I want for myself and my family that require being uncomfortable. I want us to have financial security so I say no to things like travel that I’d like to do. I want to be healthy so I get off the comfy couch and get moving. I want to, gulp, be a writer (why, oh why, is it so hard to say that?) so I blog and sign up for NaNoWriMo this month and I give up more valuable couch time to do it.
On some basic level racing forces me to be uncomfortable and teaches me, I hope, that I can survive being uncomfortable. I believe that the more I race the more that lesson will sink in for me.
I tend to feel really sappy and emotional at the end of the really hard races. I also like myself a little bit more each time. I feel a little braver, a little more confident, a little more comfortable in my own skin. Alas, not more comfortable in my own feet this time around, but still: Race 4 of 12 is done!