I went to Arizona - not this past weekend where holy crap some lucky athletes got to experience maybe the best weather in the history of ever - but the weekend of the 70.3. I signed up for the AZ 70.3/140.6 double a year ago, when I had enough faith in a body that I trusted to plunk down $900 towards a race schedule. I thought about racing the 70.3 but in the end, I wasn't ready. I've participated in enough races for one year, and I was not interested in standing on a line until I felt strong, healthy, and deeply fit. I'm still not. At that time, I was hopeful that I could build enough to take a chance at the full, and the two-week hole that the half would rip into my training was enough to say - not me, not now, not this time. That was okay.
I flopped in the gorgeous ASU pool, I ran a bunch of miles the next morning in the dark, and I took my bloated and inflamed butt back home to Colorado. That contentment, that peace, it has been hard to hang onto since I've been back, but it's in there, still with me. It's led me to continue to make some changes & decisions across the landscape of my life; some major, some minor, all I'm confident are dragging me quite merrily down the path I want to be on. I realized fairly quickly that I wasn't going to be prepared to race IMAZ the way I'd like to be the next time I stand on a line, and there was no emotion attached to that decision either, no regret in letting it go. Instead I raced a 5K, pacing one of my athletes to a PR but also still somehow running the fastest three miles I had run in well over a year, and nothing broke or fell apart (close your mouth).
I went back to DC to visit with some of my closest girlfriends, and while a big piece of my heart misses living so close to these amazing women, the huge and overwhelming peace that I feel when the plane lands back in Denver reminds me how sure I am that this is my home. I ate, drank, visited, swam, held these friends close to me for a few short days. And I ran. On the Mount Vernon trail which simply explodes with memories of beginning to run, the first time I ran four miles, 5, 6, 17, training for all the things I trained for while I lived in Alexandria. My body felt healthy, cautiously showing up for me, over and over and over (sorry, you guys, the outtakes always win).
I flew home. Raced a 10K where I got my ass kicked by a guy wearing an enormous fleece-and-plastic turkey costume not to mention more than a dozen 9-year-olds, but came within a minute of my (years-old & not-impressive) PR, running another set of the fastest miles I've seen on a watch since who even cares when at this point. I was somehow tricked into a MAF test and to see so many miles rack up starting with a 9 instead of the feels-like-19 I've been at all year was a surprising relief. Still not broken. I'm swimming hard and I'm chasing happiness watts and exorcist-style-vomiting on the bike and sure, my body isn't perfect, it's still acting like a tricky teenager that needs to be carefully managed but it is hanging the fuck in there and I am whispering thank you to it like a lunatic nearly every day.
Among the many lessons that I have learned recently, one of the big ones is that nothing is ever going to be perfect. I am a person who needs everything to be black and white; trying to swallow the flat truth that life is going to mainly be varying shades of gray is tough for me. Because sure. Life can crush you. People can hurt you. Your own body can turn against you, a knife slipping in your hand. And it's easy to choose the path of the victim, to put up walls, to remain totally and completely paralyzed by pain, fear, insecurity. I've experienced that many times over the past few years, the force with which I tried to hold out the world when my grandmother died. How it was so uncomfortable to sit and experience grief that I did all kinds of things to try and avoid it until one day I simply exploded, nuclear-level meltdown, game-fucking-over.
And maybe I'm completely full of crap, maybe I have nothing new to say here at all and I'm just babbling gibberish littered with extra commas as I try to find my way. But maybe the universe is more kind than that and Leonard Cohen was right when he said, There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. I have decided, good or bad, I don't want to be paralyzed while waiting for perfection to drop out of the sky. I'm going to sign up for races even though my hip is being weird and I'm going to run hard even though it still scares the fuck out of me and I'm going to buy plane tickets to take me to the other side of the world even though I'm scared that I may never feel completely healed and ready to stand on a line and I'm going to do it now. Not in a year when I might be stronger or smarter or fitter or more confident or settled or tough, but now.
The risk, of course, is that I'll be disappointed, that I'll fail, that I'll be crushed by yet another left hook that I didn't even see coming, that Lucy will yank the football away. That's the chance I am taking and I'm either brave enough or stupid enough to accept the risk - in a second - over being frozen, scared, numb. As I recently fumbled through trying to explain to someone the intricacies of my fears, the biggest one being that I am afraid to continue to repeat the mistakes of my past, that I'm afraid those crucial moments will show up and I won't have enough courage to choose differently, he said to me, you have everything that you need. It's hard to hear, trust, actually believe in that on a molecular level, because my life has cracks in it, I know, I see them every day. But that's how the light gets in.