Monday, August 9, 2010

a spoiled girl

I think I've been spoiled by you guys.


I've gotten used to an athletic community where everyone is really supportive of everyone else, no matter what their journey.  As an injured runner, I felt constant support and sympathy - from those who had been there, mostly, but also from those who just wanted to lend a quick 140 characters of positive energy my way.  When I started cycling, tons of people jumped in to help me make all the decisions I didn't have the knowledge to make, without sneer or prejudice.  When I celebrate milestones in my recovery, you guys cheer me on with a big "HELL YA!" even if what I've done is microscopic compared to where you are in your training.  


I'd really like to lead off this week with a post filled with puppy pictures and tales of my travels this weekend, but that's not what my mind is stuck on, not the stone I'm worrying to death.  


I've struggled with injury a lot over the past 10 years, and it's played hell on my mental state, but more so on my physical state.  I had an IT band injury that I let set me back for 4 years and about 40lbs before I decided to do something about it.  Post-surgery, I was living in a new city, in grad school, and flat broke.  Other than 6 weeks of PT, I didn't take the steps to get back to my pre-injury self.  It wasn't until 2 years later than I had the time, the inclination, and the internal motivation to do so.  I can't explain why I had the surgery and then didn't immediately return to running, and I can't explain what made me pick it back up again.  I got married in the summer of 2008.  I weighed 183lbs on my wedding day - more than I've ever seen on a scale in my life.  I was stressed, unhappy, and terrified of the life choices I'd been making.  And let me be perfectly clear - this is not a laundry list of excuses.  This is just detailing the years where I was too lazy, too comfortable, too unhappy, and too afraid to make my health and my body important again.  I returned to running in the fall of 2008.  I think I was trying to run away.  I got injured again in the early spring of 2009, just days before a half-marathon I'd been training for all winter.  Suddenly I had no way to work out my stress, to listen and breathe and let myself hurt.  And the pounds piled back on over the next 9 months.


Then one day I woke up and could breathe again.


Everything bad in my life - every single thing that created stress and sadness and anger - had changed.  The relationship that was suffocating me had ended.  The job that stole away all of my time, energy, and happiness was gone.  And suddenly my life began to fill up with things that brought me joy.  A puppy.  A house.  A strong laughing man.  And later, a community of people I had no idea existed, but who welcomed me with training tips, snarky comments, and lots of laughter.  Despite yet another crippling injury, I found new ways to climb on top of it.  To keep breathing, to keep getting stronger and finding ways other than running to be healthy and alive, to celebrate what I can do instead of wallowing in what I can't.


But what I've found is not everyone is as happy about this as I am.  It's been interesting, to me, as I've spent the time over the past 9 months to make my body and my health important again, the comments that I've received from old friends and family as the pounds have dropped off - a side effect, truly, to the happiness I've been rediscovering.  A lot of people ask what the "magic secret" is.  More people ask what I'm going to do now that I've lost some weight, as if I can languish here, as if the only goal - which was really never the goal - was to look good in a pair of jeans.  And the distinct vibe that I get - that I can't exactly put my finger on - is the sense of irritation I feel as people see me make good and healthy choices.  The way I come home to see my family a good 30lbs lighter than the last time I was home, and while people look me up and down, they tend to purse their lips and turn away without comment, as if my good health is offensive to them.  The way a friend will get impatient when I am dithering over two menu items in a restaurant, and snap, "oh, just order the (insert higher-calorie item here)," blind to the fact that I may simply be trying to decide between iced tea or lemonade, not counting calories.  The way some friends will be annoyed because I'll want to schedule dinner or drinks around a standing workout, rather than just skip it.  The way a family member will watch every morsel that goes into my mouth, judging me based on what I do and don't eat.  The way my mom will congratulate my boyfriend on whatever he did to "make me lose some weight and eat better."  And the way some old friends have celebrated my success and happiness with me - because don't old friends know you the best? - and some have flatly ignored the fact that my life has changed.  Or maybe can't even see - past their own lives - that it has.


No one wants to hear that living this life is hard work.  Because it is.  Lifting is hard work.  Finding the strength to ride 50 miles in 85-degree heat is hard work.  Getting out of bed at 5:30am to swim is hard work.  Cooking instead of driving through McDonald's is hard work.  Some days, it takes all the strength I have to lace up my shoes and drive to the gym.  But there's the other side.  I know that it's hard to explain to someone the sense of accomplishment when you finish a long run or ride, or how good it feels to do a hill workout or track intervals until you are vomiting on your shoes.  But I've never been as happy as the first time I ran 8 miles.  The first time I rode 35 miles.  The first time I ran a sub-30 5K.  The first time I was able to leg press more than my weight.  The first time I crossed the finish line of a 10-miler.  I can't explain the explosive joy in my heart that I felt when I PR'd last week.  And maybe no one will ever understand why I run.  But I hope they can understand that it's worth it.

17 comments:

  1. Awesome Katie! Boo to those who can't be supportive--they are player haters and you're better off without them. You rock!

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  2. I've known you for a long time, from the job that sucked the life out of you (same as me?) through now. I'm beyond words happy for you and where you are now. You always found a way to make ME laugh back in the day, and i'm glad you're in a place that makes you content on so many levels.

    I promise drinks when I get back from New Mexico, I won't bail this time. You can hold me to that!

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  3. There are so many people who understand and are right there with you every step of the way! Keep up the amazing work and keep enjoying it! See you Wednesday evening at the pool?

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  4. Katie, you have done a world of good for yourself and MissZ is right, BOO! People live in fear and it's a shame that they cannot be supportive as you find things that you truly have begun to enjoy! Keep it up, you are seriously amazing, look at your journey so far!

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  5. Love, love, love this post. You work hard for what you get and some people will never understand but we do. You did it, you get the credit, good job on taking control of your life and your happiness.

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  6. The book may be called Born To Run but I often think that people were Born to Schadenfreude (ok, not a verb but you know what I mean). Soooo much thrill gained from raising the eyebrow at someone else's struggles.

    And that is why I'm not married to my first husband or friends with a whole bunch of people who were uncomfortable with me moving FORWARD in life and them either unsure or going nowhere. I got tired of hearing "you're doing/interested in what? isn't that dumb/crazy/insert demeaning adjective" Especially with women and weight, I think some people say "yeah, at least I'm not as heavy as SHE IS" and then when you do the hard, HARD work to get yourself healthy, their own weaknesses are revealed and it is uncomfortable.

    If being cheered on by others who appreciate your progress and support your efforts is being spoiled, I'll be a bratty brat any day.

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  7. Insightful post. It IS all about the choices we make. Not the least of which is choosing to make supportive, positive people our friends and relegating the negative ones to the periphery, or face going down with them.

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  8. Ah, Pennsylvania. I know it well. It took me a long time to realize that people who put you down just feel threatened by you. That they assume that you're judging the hell out of them, so they'd better judge you first. So boo to them!

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  9. Amen! What a great post. Honest and refreshing. Keep doing what you're doing and enjoy being happy for yourself.

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  10. Katie - I'm happy for you! I never knew quite what to say previously when it was obvious that you weren't happy with your life, but I'm glad you've moved past and figured out what works for you. :-)

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  11. its amazing that you were able to find a new path, one that brings you joy rather than sucking the life out of you. good for you! now if there was a way to bottle it and spread it around, maybe those around you would be more supportive...if their lives were a little more joy-filled.

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  12. If you keep on doing what you are doing - you keep getting what you are getting....that is what my mom always said. I've made several major changes in my life the past few years as well, and could not be happier. My true friends are still right next to me :) So way to take control of your life and doing what makes you kick ass happy. I kind of have to pinch myself - and I'm sure you feel the same way!!

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  13. I hear you. I find that a healthy lifestyle "negatively affects" those around me. My mother will be upset if I turn down dessert, my sister rolls her eyes if I am disappointed about a bad 5-miler, my friends will encourage an extra cookie. Our healthy lifestyle is reflective of CONSTANT choices... consistently choosing the "healthy" option is definitely hard, and sometimes it feels like a struggle. But you know--YOU'VE done the hard work. No one has made you do it, and it is YOUR success. It's important to be happy, and if what you're doing is not only good for you mentally but also PHYSICALLY...well, then... we support you 100%!

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  14. Love this post. Do not love unsupportive people. But as long as you are happy and have found a community of like-minded people, to hell with the naysayers!

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  15. I wish I could run right over to your house right now and give your "Rennur" ass a hug! You are amazing, and I know you are smart. Sometimes looking inside ourselves for recognition isn't enough, but also looking for it from people that will never understand isn't worth it either.

    Please know that if you ever need someone to bitch to, yell at, or celebrate with, you know how to get a hold of me :) I'm glad you are on the other side of all that other crap - it's the true Katie shinning through, now.

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  16. Wow do I know exactly what you mean. People judge my choices about working out and eating all the time. They assume because I'm skinny that I don't need to work hard. It's funny, because the people that judge me weigh LESS than I do, they just don't realize that this little person is mostly muscle.

    "The way a friend will get impatient when I am dithering over two menu items in a restaurant, and snap, "oh, just order the (insert higher-calorie item here)," blind to the fact that I may simply be trying to decide between iced tea or lemonade, not counting calories."

    I love this. You're awesome, and I'm happy that I've got to see some of this transformation by being your twitter friend. We still need to get around to riding together one of these days! I just need to stop being so busy :P

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