I’d be lying if I said I was over the incomplete run. I’m not and all I can do is let the frustration pass when I think of the missed opportunities, but unfortunately, as the frustration passes it seems to be on a circular path of some sort and comes back around soon enough. I’m on an emotional carousel that will only stop with the eventual forgetting of time or some manner of redemption through another accomplishment. It’s a precarious place to be as I simply can’t will my body to heal and yet my mind is already scheming how to move past this physically. I’m caught in daydreams of other “epic” ideas I never started in the past, but feel compelled to fulfill. The precariousness, of course, comes with running further on a damaged body, doing more damage, or failing to complete yet another personal challenge and remaining unfulfilled, building upon the past frustration.
There is, however, the benefit of relying on the accomplishment of the Family Reach fundraiser, for which I’m incredibly grateful, but on a personal level…it’s just not enough. I don’t mean that to sound insulting to the donations and generosity of everyone who contributed to the fundraiser, not at all, but my selfish needs to fulfill this run remain. It’s not even that I need to prove to myself that I can complete this run (for I may very well not have the ability in me), but instead, it’s that time is running out.
If I had another 3 to 4 months to recover and learn from all the should haves and what ifs of this incomplete ultra run, you can bet I’d make another go at it, smarter and stronger. I’m reminded by many that their first attempt at an ultra run was often a terrible disaster, but future attempts had more successful, more tempered outcomes, and as much as I learned about ultra training and running through this attempt, the ability to capitalize on those mistakes is restricted by my closing window of opportunity.
Surgery is no longer on the horizon. It’s knocking at the door.
Unfortunately, whatever happened to my legs / knees during the 105 miles over two days of running is lingering, and preventing me from alleviating this nagging drive to accomplish something for myself before I really, truly can’t. I think back to the 120 mile bike ride some friends and I took down to Bloomington after my first surgery, when stomach complications halted my ride on the way back and I had to be picked up and driven home. Then two days later, angry that I was stopped by something outside of my abilities, I went and completed the ride by myself. I think back, because I’ve already toyed with the idea of going back up to Lafayette and finishing that run, without fanfare, without fundraising, without advertising…just for myself.
But the damage has been done and I’m left riding my bike around the city, restarting my morning strength routine, and doing anything physical to keep the pressure cooker from blowing it’s lid while I wait for running to become a thing again. And I need it to come back before my next surgery, so I can do SOMETHING for myself, to take advantage of this opportunity before I admit myself to another attempt to get rid of this cancer once and for all.
I know, it sounds desperate, and it sounds obsessive, and although I can admit both of those are part of this struggle, I also accept these are necessary and can be channeled towards my personal success. Because time is running out and there is no way around that. And nothing is guaranteed. I don’t mean to imply that I harbor a fear of dying while in surgery, for I don’t, but that is a reality of any surgery as crazy as the one I’m about to undergo. More than that, however, is the blank space that stretches out past my surgery. I gave up expectations long ago. Nothing after surgery is guaranteed and although I can envision getting stronger and know I will make the attempt, I also have no idea what comes after, what my abilities will be, and when they will be.
I simply do not take my current physical abilities for granted, for I know they may not be there when I wake back up. If you think this sounds exaggerated or melodramatic, come visit me in the ICU.
And so I feel this drive, this urge, this compulsion to expend my body to it’s fullest extent, or to at least accomplish something that leaves me fulfilled and complete.
I know some feel that I reached that point with my ultra run when my body gave out, but I don’t see it that way. My capabilities to continue on were still there, I just restricted them through poor execution. I still believe, after understanding the should ofs and what ifs, that I could have run the first day differently and in a way that would not have been so damaging to my body, allowing me to continue on past the second and third day at least. My abilities to go further were not expended..they were restricted, and that’s why I’m left feeling unfulfilled. That is something I’ve had to continue explaining to people who I’ve seen since my run, that I didn’t hold myself back, that I didn’t back off because I feared damaging my body, but that I simply COULDN’T go any further. I couldn’t contract or extend my legs without a pain that literally stopped me from running. I wanted to go on and had all the capability in the rest of my body to keep going, but that one part around my knees made it impossible, and again, that’s what leaves me unfulfilled. Knowing if I could have worked my way around that or if I rest my way out of it, all the abilities to keep going are still within me…well, it’s all the should haves and what ifs that make endurance running such a frustrating experience.
I have exactly 8 weeks left. 8 weeks of a countdown, to scratch this itch, to prove the possibility, to live my life to it’s fullest physical extent. For the past year I have worked hard to build myself to this point, to make the most of this moment, and in that is a victory I can be proud of, but I still feel compelled to put all that work into practice, into a culmination of effort that I can think back to when I’m laying flat on my back, out of my mind on morphine and say, “Yeah, I made that happen. I made the most of it. I left nothing behind.”
My time is running out, but still, there IS time on the clock and should healing come soon, I just might be able to make the most of it. And even if I don’t, I got myself to this point within a year, and that accomplishment is not lost on me. The towel hasn’t been thrown in just yet…