A battle with my brain

Last week my ankle prevented me from working out or running, minus one 45-minute low-intensity tour of the weight room. Since I started training for the NYC Marathon (now just a week from Sunday), I’ve logged a little over 105 miles, nothing compared to regular runners, but a lot for someone like me who only started running on August 29. That injury plus a week of being unable to relieve stress through exercise plus LIFE have really screwed with my head. Not unlike the safety seal a manufacturer glues over a lid of sour cream that ensures the container will spit all over your shirt when you peel it off.

Not that I’m eating sour cream. I mean, I used to. LOOK AT THAT GRUDGE.

As of right now, this minute, I don’t know if my ankle is going to be healthy enough to run the race. The anger that twists my stomach when I write that is just so unhealthy, but it’s not an emotion I can control. So I don’t try to. I hold it in my hands, stare at it, turn it around to see it from different angles.

I had a miscarriage in 2007, and in the weeks and months that followed I couldn’t look at a pregnant woman without my throat involuntarily closing up. The curve of a woman’s belly blurred my vision, not with jealousy or rage, but with the thought of my own failure. Intellectually I understood that this was an irrational response. I had not failed. Pregnancy is not a measurement of one’s ability to succeed or fail. But there it was, my tightened throat, and because I was still feeling so vulnerable the intellectual part of my brain cut me some slack.

What I’m going through now, while not nearly as devastating as what I went through with that miscarriage, is similar in that my intellect is laying off a bit. It knows that I am reacting irrationally when I see someone running and I want to turn around, go home and crawl under my bed. Because although I know it’s not my fault that I have all these injuries, it pretty much is all my fault.

While this is certainly not the most uplifting post I’ve ever written, I wanted to be honest with you guys. I sat down and tried to mine my life for a laugh, but this is what I’m feeling. I know there are hundreds of other marathons and races (and far worse things in life, YES, I KNOW THIS), and next time I’ll have more time to train, more time to build up to longer runs. I know in a few months I will look back at this anger and shake my head at the idea that it kept me awake at night, that it woke me up and tortured me until the alarm finally sounded hours later.

But then maybe I will run that race, and all of this worry and exasperation will have been a useless exercise. And even if I don’t, when it’s all over I’ll think, wait, did I make this so much harder than it had to be? And that would be different from everything else I do, how?