Yesterday I had possibly the worst run of my life.
I drove to a park an hour away believing I would run a trail half-marathon only to discover that the race was the day before. My training schedule called for a long run, though, and I figured it was worth exploring a new location so I headed out.
The trails were complicated and designed more for mountain bikes than hiking/running. Some were well-marked but most weren’t. I had to run with a bad PDF map on my iPhone, constantly stopping to check my location. I was stressed and nervous, and felt a sharp pain develop in my lower back as I ran. I thought I could work through it.
Five miles into a 14 mile run, though, I quit. I had never done that before. I’ve blown up on long runs and workouts, but never not finished one. Something felt off, though, and by the time I got home I could barely put weight on my right foot. I went to bed before eight last night and slept for almost 11 hours, then spent most of today foam rolling, resting, and feeling old (did I mention I turned forty two weeks ago?)
It has been a long time since I posted here.
After finishing the Richmond marathon, work and parenting resumed their normal place at the forefront of my life and I volunteered to plan the school science fair. What time I have to spare for running goes to actual time on the road and trails rather than writing and reflecting about it.
Today, though. I decided to get back to it. Why? I haven’t found time to write about Richmond, trail races I have actually showed up to on time, or about some holiday runs with my family. Why did a freak injury and a missed race push me to write again?
It partially had to do with the feeling I had yesterday standing at a three-way split in a trail, three counties away from home, holding an iPhone and squinting at colored lines on a map, wondering why I was there. I felt lost, alone. Some times when I have been slogging away for work I have felt the same.
It partially had to do with the injury. Running is one of the best things in my life and I am without it for an indefinite period of time (probably not that long, but I don’t know). I feel fear. I feel loss. I feel tangible pain. I feel the guilt of not being able to help parent or work as I should.
The truth is, yesterday’s run is a pretty good metaphor for where I am in life. Scattered, a little lost, and not at my best. I would rather the metaphor for my life be a BQ-level effort in a marathon, but I’m not there in any way.
I am aware that my life is, on the whole, very good. I have many things to be thankful for. But lately I have struggled to find the direction or purpose aside from what is in front of me. I’ve been in a rut at work and home. And while running provides an escape and joy, it usually goes well for me. I hit my marks in training and generally meet my goals for races.
In all aspects of my life I have been able to drift. Yesterday provided a subtle reminder that doing so may not always be wise. I probably shouldn’t be surprised I’m writing today after getting lost and hurt on a trail. Bad days are almost always the ones that make us stop and strive for something better.