So here we are at the end of another racing season. I am an Iron Runner again after a seven year hiatus. I am a marathoner again after a five year hiatus. I will place in the top five for my age group in the series, and I am the only woman in my age group to achieve Iron status this year. I raced a total of 192 miles. I traveled a total of 1149 miles. I spent $635 in race fees, sponsorships, and donations. I ran a total of 693 miles in training from January to December. I’ve done all of this before. With the exception of gaining a handful of training partners (a first for me this year), none of this is new business. So why is any of it noteworthy?
Because now I am injured. There were a couple of Want To races that I hoped to run now that the Have To races are complete. I have a deferred entry set to expire this weekend. I still have some old Declare It Day goals I hoped to finally satisfy in January or February. I was on target to top 1000 miles by my birthday. I wasn’t finished yet. The Grand Prix series might be finished but I wasn’t. Yes, I am tired and yes, I’ve been complaining about being tired and yes, I’m achy and grumpy and yes, I’m tired of getting up absurdly early and yes, I’m more than sick of running in the rain. Yes, that’s all true.
I still had a couple of things to prove to myself. I still had some work to do. I wasn’t finished. Except I am finished, at least for this year. So my choice is the same choice I’ve had every time I’ve been injured: sulk or celebrate. So I’m celebrating. How far I’ve come, not how far I had yet to go. How much I did, rather than how much I did not. All the reasons why my left hip hurts so much; everything this hip accomplished and all that she survived before asking for a well-deserved break. It’s not her fault that I didn’t get to do everything I wanted but it is because of her that I got to do everything I did achieve. My hip has done nothing wrong. She needs what she needs, just like a brain or a belly or a heart or a liver or skin needs what it needs. I ignored her the first time she asked. I denied her the second time she asked. She didn’t ask the third time; she asserted herself. She needs a break.
She needs a break regardless of my plans. She needs attention. She needs time. She needs a reduction in intensity so she can recover.
What she does not–NOT–need is comparisons. She doesn’t need to be compared to the hips of other runners who are not injured. Hips that ran twice as much I did, raced far more often, ran them closer together, back to back, with little to no rest, all year long, without breaking down. Hips that should be far more tired than mine. Hips that endured worse weather, more travel, more exhaustion, illness, stress, just as many full-time jobs–all the many seductive chances to twist the performances of other hips into a way to incriminate my hip. It’s so tempting.
So easy to start calling my hip ugly names–weak, fragile, lazy, old, genetically inferior, pansy-ass, quitter, broke-ass, dumb-ass. So easy to start heaping on the hate because no one else’s hip is keeping her from finishing out the year in the glory of success. No one else is taking a seat on the bench because of her stupid hip. But I’m not doing it. Not this time. Not when my hip needs to be nurtured and healed–I’m going to beat on her, abuse her, punish her because she needs what she needs? No. Look at all she’s done for me. What kind of asshole would I be to dismiss all she’s seen me through? As if it means nothing because she can’t meet my demand that she do it like all the other hips? No. I said I was done–DONE!–doing that to my body in terms of image. I need to be done doing that in terms of function as well.
Many of my friends, training partners, and racing companions have hips that have realized all their goals for the year or definitely will realize them before the New Year. Those hips have kept pace beside mine across the miles. Those hips sat beside mine for meals and meetings and dark highway journeys to sunrise starting lines. Not once did it ever occur to me that the triumphs of those hips meant a failure of my hips by comparison when we were all hugging each other at the finish line. Why on Earth would I translate it as such now, when my hip hurts from keeping pace, keeping up, getting up, showing up, supporting, and staying strong in tandem to all those triumphs? I’m supposed to say that it meant nothing because my hip is now asking of the same of me–to support her? No. She’s earned the right to hurt. She’s earned the right to hurt without insult, disdain, or flagellation.
My hip has survived so much more than this racing season. She’s had 43 years of hard living thrown at her. She’s survived poverty, violence, neglect, addiction, divorce, ignorance, prejudice, and hate. Never once did I praise her or celebrate her or thank her for any of that. Not once did I ever appreciate her support. Her survival. She never got any credit. Never got any recognition. All I ever did was inflict harsh language and unfair judgment upon her when she dared to need a rest.
She ran cross-country. She was a freshman forward. She played second base. She practiced kung fu and tai chi. She hiked the Rockies and Appalachians. She made so much love. She kicked so much ass. She carried dozens of babies for working parents. She slept on the floor. She slept on the ground. She wore the same pair of pants every day for a year. She danced in the desert. She stood in leadership. She sat in protest. She swam the oceans. She climbed ancient temples in the jungle. She scrubbed toilets for rent money. She stood in front of television cameras and made speeches. She worked three jobs and went to night school. She fought off a rapist. She moved over 25 times. She learned yoga. She taught yoga. She ran her own business. She ran every distance from a mile to a marathon, multiple times.
So what she didn’t do and she hasn’t done? That’s far less important. If she never did another thing worth a damn she has been an incredible hip and I am grateful to have her. My Declare It Day goals will have to wait a little longer. I have declared her divine and decided not to rush her. If she can let me know she’s had enough she will let me know when she’s ready for more. In the meantime, she is part of me and I deserve to be well.