It has taken me a long time to accept who I am, accept and embrace my faults. It has taken even longer to acknowledge me weaknesses, admit them to myself, and struggle with how to overcome them. Its funny, because its been through running and being sober that I have been able to find out what my biggest weakness is, my fiercest demon, my biggest adversary: no matter how strong or how far I have come physically, I am still weak mentally. That doesn't make me a weak person. That just makes things more difficult. Racing in particular.
Obviously, most of my reasons for not leading a sober life for over 32 years had to do with my inability to handle my emotions and the events going on in my life. I thought I was independent, tough as nails, and walked through life without a care. In reality, I was scared, frightened, and hiding, using drugs and alcohol as a mask to hide behind. Since becoming sober close to 2 years ago, I have experienced stress, anxiety, sadness, heart brake, fear, anger, and various other emotions, and they hit me like a freight train. I don't have a crutch to lean on anymore. I don't have a mask to hide behind. That's a good thing. But its a struggle. I get lost in my head. I frustrate those around me. I frustrate myself. I feel weak and alone, and I get in moods that I know annoy the people I care about. I say and think stupid things. Its tough to accept that you are this way, and its even harder to know that it makes you a difficult person to be friends with or close to. Communication is difficult because I never even shared these feelings with myself anymore, how do you share them with someone else? That's where running comes in.
I don't run from these feelings, I run with them. In training its fine, however my problem has been racing. I struggle to race because my head is all over the place. I have had some successful races, but have never put it all together and accomplished what I think I am capable of because I get lost in my thoughts and I mentally sabotage myself. I have spent close to 21 weeks now training for my next marathon. I have logged more miles then ever, lost over 45 pounds, worked on speed, hydration, fueling, and feel great. I think I am ready to take a huge leap as a runner, but that big question mark still looms over my head. Can I handle it mentally? Will I finally be able to get to the start line, look up, smile, and do what I've worked so hard for? Or will success get stuck somewhere between the thoughts of fear and failure that have loomed inside my mind for as long as I can remember?
It won't be long before I find out. I see so many people struggle with injury, injuries have never been a big obstacle for me. I have always been able to draw motivation from within to keep going, even when physically I feel unable. Last year I learned what it takes to mend a broken bone and was able to keep training and become a better runner because of it. Now I have to try and mend a broken mind.
Its fitting that October 10 I will travel to Chicago alone, taking a trip to run a race against the person who has always stood between me and success, happiness, and peace of mind: myself.
On October 12, when I run the streets of Chicago, I am going to run with the last skeleton in my closet, the one I have never been able to face. Its not alcohol, drugs, suicide, my parents, divorce, it's me. After 26.2 miles we'll see which one of me wins.
There is no finish line.
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