That is exactly what happened to me. I was stronger and getting faster than I have ever been, and then….unexpected surgery in February (an outpatient fairly routine surgery mind you) resulted in my body, going on strike. I will not go into details, but leading up to and after surgery my running was put from fast forward, to ground zero. I was starting over.
Running was no longer easy. It was hard. My strength was gone. Training was mental kick in the teeth. Every workout was hard. Trying to remain positive and upbeat was difficult. I have a fantastic Coach (yes Coaches need a Coach too), loving family, good friends, and supportive teammates, but I kept my misery quiet. I had to fight this battle, my way, privately.
This was to be a big year of firsts for me. Instead it started out to be the big year of DNS’s.
The biggest thing that happened to me during this time after surgery was an attitude or well, “life”, adjustment. A big one. I was stressed, to the max. Everyone and everything wanted more and more of me and I had increasingly less of me to give due to the increased demands. I was burning the candle at all 6 ends.
Someone one day asked me how I was, and for the first time, this was someone who asked the question and sincerely wanted to hear the answer, not just a canned “fine”. Not to hear me say “fine” and then turn me into their personal therapist, but someone, who truly wanted to know and truly, listened. I unloaded. Boy did I ever unload. They told me something that I will never forget “you have to put your oxygen mask on yourself, before you help someone else with theirs”. She said “you can’t breathe because you are giving all your air to everyone else”. I heard what she said, but didn’t take it in. She also told me “people will never respect you until you respect yourself first, you are basically letting people disrespect you, and it is ok. No, it is not ok”. I heard her but it didn’t hit or sink in for a while.
I got up one morning, came downstairs, and poured a cup of coffee. Checked my phone just as a text message came across. Went to the bathroom (TMI here, but for the first time didn’t take my phone with me). When I came out of the bathroom I had a text message, a private message on Facebook, and a Twitter direct message all blasting me for the lack of response to the text that was sent. The span of time had been….18 seconds. Seconds. Bear in mind the nature of the text was a general greeting, not a 911 emergency. Wow. And this isn’t the first time this happened, and it happens from different people. All. The. Time. It stressed me completely out. It was happening daily. And sadly, I did this to myself. I allowed people to have unrealistic expectations. It was ok to demand my undivided attention 24/7/365. I worried too much about being available and making others happy, that I myself, had become completely miserable.
So I stepped back and day by day started giving myself some oxygen. It wasn’t easy. My family supported me. A lot of people didn’t like it. They still don’t.
The irony, one result of my surgery was for me to be able to breathe, my oxygen intake would be so much better. My doctor’s said my athletic performance was going to show dramatic improvement with this. Funny. It didn’t improve from the surgery as we had all thought. It didn’t start happening, until the one morning I got up and the first thing I did was put my oxygen mask on first.
Stay tuned for Part 2: NV Games 5k Race Recap