When I started this blog, I weighed roughly 40lbs more than I do right now. I could run for about 2-3 minutes max, before I started to feel pain and had to quit. I was in my first semester of graduate school. I was in a job that I straight-up despised. I was six months fresh off of a divorce. I had a new boyfriend who I still wasn't even ready to call by that label, although he was mostly residing in my house by then. I had no idea who I was, where I was going, what I was doing with my life. I was lost. Or rather, constantly in the darkness, a line I picked up from the song I played over and over and over, in my headphones, in my car, at night when I couldn't sleep (Diana Krall's "A Case Of You," live in Paris version). Blah blah blah, I've talked about my journey quite a bit as I've traveled along, but that's where I was before it started. When I used to stare out the window at people jogging by on the sidewalk and get angry, because why was it so easy for them and so hard for me? All I wanted to do was be out there too. Why couldn't I?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have several athletes who I think are at the beginning of journeys of their own. Or maybe their journey has taken a sudden and quite violent change of direction. And they are confused, or hesitant, or angry, and I can hear it in their voices. Why is it so hard? Why me? Why did this happen, why can't it just be easy, why can't the life I want just be mine? Where do I go now, how do I move forward? And I ache for them.
Chasing the life that you want is hard. Changing the life you have, that's really hard. Trying to understand why the universe hands off the cards to you that it does, well, shit, that's nearly impossible. If it was easy, I wrote in an email just the other day, everyone in the world would be slim and trim and strong and happily married and healthy and mentally well-balanced and get enough sleep and vegetables and vitamins every single day. That's what the world would look like if it was easy. But it's not. So what are you going to do about it?
This blog, writing down all the crap I do and say and posting pictures of my ass, that has been part of my journey. Bringing everyone I could along for the ride. Call it support, call it enabling, but I can click through the past four years of my life and without even reading, watch the changes happen. I wrote it all down at first because I was proud that I got up and moved my body every day, and when I told everyone what I did, they all said, "YAY GO KATIE!" and I clicked over to their blogs and said, "OMG YAY GO OTHER BLOGGER YOU!" And we all made friends, and we supported each other, and that was a big part of how I was able to get this far. That was important to me, that motivated me, that mattered. And now I've jogged forward, and I noticed at some point that I wasn't motivated by that anymore. I didn't need to hear, "Go Katie!" on yesterday's workout in order to wake up and get today's work done. So I stopped writing about it. Then ironman training rolled along, and I realized that we are all doing the same work just in five hundred minisculely (that's probably not a word and if it is I am not spelling it even close to correctly) different ways, so I stopped talking about that in blog posts. I rode my bike for six hours last Saturday? SO DID EVERYONE ELSE. Life wandered forward, and I swam, I biked, I ran, I ate, I drank (a lot), I packed up all my shit and I moved two thousand miles away from everything I knew. Somewhere along the line, sitting down and telling the story of my life so that my inbox would fill up with blog comments stopped being quite as important as living the story of my life, holding the friends I have close to my heart, quietly searching for joy instead of blasting my greatest hits and sarcastic moments on the internet.
Everything I wrote in that first paragraph, all of that is different now. My weight has been stable for about three years. I can run for four hours and twenty-eight minutes (although it hurt just about as badly as 2-3 minutes did back then which seems a bit unfair). Graduate school is done and paid for, I enjoy my job, I like my co-workers, but I am not escaping to work because my life is empty without it. The poet and I get in stupid fights about whose voice was using the sarcastic tone first when they said the thing about the car, but we are happy. Being married to him fills my life with joy (and stinky feet). I am in love with how much my puppies love me, I KNOW that there are dogs but they are my family. I am not perfect, and I will be the first to fill you in on my imperfections, but I also know exactly who I am now, and I will not apologize for it.
Everyone has challenges in their life. Everyone. And my life has been shaped by how I've decided to approach those challenges, which is generally to sledgehammer my way through. That doesn't mean it's been right, or that I haven't made mistakes while holding the machete, but that's how I've done it.
The thing I continue to tell my athletes, the puzzle piece I wish I could slot into their brains, is that it is worth it. Chasing your joy, seeking health and happiness, it is worth it. And I wish that I could shoulder their burdens, I wish that I could fight through the hard parts for them, I wish that I could take away their pain. Between puppies and athletes, I don't think I could bear to have any children even if I wanted them, my heart hurts too much when they are struggling. I don't have magic words to make them feel better, I generally say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. But I can remember the moment, so clearly, when I realized that I had the power to say, hang on, wait one fucking second, no, this is not what I want my life to be. This is not how I want my story to end. And it is true that I would go through my divorce all over again if it meant that I would end up in the marriage I am in. I didn't know that then, of course, and all the people who told me I would feel better "in time" I wanted to punch in the mouth, but it was true. I would gladly again suffer through four years - YEARS, not days or weeks or months - of being unable to run in exchange for the marathon I ran last month. For the ironman I finished last June.
I'm training for my second ironman right now. (And my third...). It's a lot different than my first. When I was training for my first, everything was new, I didn't know how to handle all the shit my brain threw at me while I was throwing an unbelievable amount of shit at my body. And I tell those stories over and over, about the meltdown I had on the bike and where I stopped my MAF test to sit on the track and cry and how I made the poet come pick me up from the side of the road sobbing only to let me back out 10 minutes later to keep riding. Those stories are funny, now. They make me laugh at myself, now. And I think I still have a few more days before shit really starts to get serious on my calendar, or maybe I am doing a slightly better job of taking it all in stride this time around. Or maybe both.
I don't suppose I really had anything to say, here (but do I ever?). I'm not sure how I got so serious when I sat down to fill up a blog post with tales of riding my bicycle and changing my fucking swim stroke is so aggravating and my knee hurt so I didn't run for a few days but now it's fine and training camp was amazing and oh we're moving and I finally purchased and ate kale and did not drop dead on the spot. I rode my bike so hard the other day that I lost my voice later on that afternoon. I ran with Molly this morning, and let me tell you, if you need a straight up shot of what happiness looks like, go for a run with this girl.
So I just wanted to drop in, internet, and say hello, and now I'm going back to blowing the glass of my life with the biggest hammer I can find. Because that's what I do. But you were all here when I was sad, and mad, and fat and unhappy, and you all dragged me through it, and now I'm trying to drag other people through it, and I thought that the best way I could say thank you for that was to say: hi, internet. It's me, Katie. Right now, I'm doing just fine.