Friday, November 18, 2011

The thing about pain

There are so many different types of it.  A friend of mine has been in an absurd amount of pain this week because her wisdom teeth are giving her too much grief.  She is on some heavy duty painkillers that are causing their own difficulties, particularly the side effects.  Sadly, there isn't much she can do about it until she has the teeth pulled, in two weeks.  Yesterday, I went for a run for the first time in 13 days, and I felt great.  I ran 3.5 miles at a moderate pace, and I was amazed that my body could do such a thing after so valiantly battling the Sickness.  Yet today when I tried to run, there was the pain; there, the fatigue.  And later today, I realized my legs were super sore because I had asked them to pick right up where we left off two weeks ago.  My body may be mostly recovered from the cold, but I can't ignore that I was pretty much inactive for a decent period of time.  So much for easing back into it.

Physical pain: we feel it, acknowledge it, then do what we can to push past it.  We take the Advils and Tylenols and whatever else to reduce the inflammation and the discomfort.  We recognize that our bodies are hurting from lack of use, but we stretch it out and walk it off.  We run again tomorrow.  That stuff is easy.  There are other types of pain, less obvious, more sinister for their sneakiness.  The pain of loss; the pain of heartbreak.  I've been dealing with that pain today.  I thought I could run it away, or run away from it, but 20 minutes into my run this morning, the fact that I'm "out of shape," and hardly slept last night caught up with me.  My legs were hurting, but that discomfort did nothing to take away the numb tightness in my chest that had nothing to do with my heart rate.  What do you do with that pain?  Drugs don't do a thing for it, really.  Running may abate it for 20 or 40 or 70 minutes, but then it comes slouching back in, snuggling up where that warm fuzzy feeling used to live.

I have heard that Time helps.  Eventually, feeling returns and the little pieces of yourself that you'd given away gradually heal over.  In high school, I started running as a means of avoiding my personal demons.  Those specific demons are long gone.  I run now for myself and for my health, and if I can, I run to inspire and do something for others.  Right now, it would be so easy and so much more comfortable to crawl in bed and stay there, nursing these stupid emotional wounds, filling the tiny holes in my heart with hot chocolate and refined carbohydrates.  But that would be counterproductive and beneficial to nobody, least of all First Descents and the people I have supporting my running endeavors.

The thing about pain is that you can only give in to it so much before you have to take a step back, reassess the situation, and figure out what else you can do.  If it's physical pain that you know won't go away for a while, you grin (if you can) and bear it.  You still have a life to live.  If the pain is much deeper than that and emanates from somewhere dark and private inside you, you still have a life to live.  I still have this crazy life to live and a race to run and the more I train, the stronger I become, in general.

Last night, still in shock over the sadness wrench that had just been thrown in my previously extraordinarily happy life, I asked a very good friend what on earth I am supposed to do now.  She, in her fantastic, straightforward NorCal way, replied, "No one ever knows what they are doing, and it's a miracle that any of us survive any of this kind of shit at all."  Who knows why any of us are still here, with all the small tragedies that happen every single day.  I believe everything balances out, and I have to hope that things happen for a reason.  Although I still have no idea what I'm doing, really.  I know tomorrow I'm going for a run; I know I'll still be writing about running and life and so many other things.  I know it's going to be sunny in Denver tomorrow, and I have a lovely little sockeye fillet waiting for me when I get home from work.  I know for sure that most every pain comes and goes, and this is no different.  It will just take time.  Meanwhile, the road is beckoning, calling louder than my bed and self-pity.  Although I don't know how right now, I know this, too, shall pass.

Thanks much.  Happy weekend, Please!! enjoy it. 

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