Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 36 of 52: My friend, the pustule.


Well this past week I had another lesson in patience. The lesson I keep being given because the message never sinks in.

So earlier this past week I was sufficiently nervous with anticipation for this Sunday’s Zoot 10k race. A race where I felt I would have the energy and motivation to actually race it and finally have a more accurate idea of what my race pace is. Apparently, according to my coach, my pacing is all over the place, which makes it hard for him to predict paces for me. Personally, I think the urgency behind determining my race pace is driven more by the fact I don’t think my coach likes to be wrong.

So as I was gearing up for the race and freaking out just enough to know that I actually cared about the outcome of this race (a good sign I’m not feeling depressed), I began to dwell on the potential race outcomes. Interestingly enough, I found that each reiteration of the outcome become increasingly intense and more negative. As race day neared, and I fell further down my negative thought spiral, I tried to reminded myself the lessons I have learned from my meditation practice.

In mediation we don’t live in the future or the past but experience the present. But instead of me meditating during these anxious moments, I was just hanging out in my head, panicking about outcomes that hadn’t even happened yet. I was convinced that this was going to be the worst race ever for me based on absolutely nothing objective. Even my coach thought it was odd that I did not feel incredible about my running. Yeah sure, I was running faster and stronger than I had over the past year and a half. But underneath it all I felt a tiredness. A tiredness I knew to well, the tiredness that goes with iron deficiency. The tiredness that fucks up your runs despite your best mental efforts.

So yeah, I was freaked out. Freaked out because I had convinced myself that my iron had dropped again, despite the fact that I was taking 300mg of iron daily for the past month (kind of makes that unlikely, actually). And that come race day, my iron would be so low that the race would feel like it was lasting for an eternity and that would make me hate absolutely every second of that race. And ultimately would make me hate running. I have had too many experiences of that I was not looking to collect anymore of them.

On the other hand, I told myself if I wait around for me to feel super awesome before I decide to race, I may never race again. So despite my paralyzing fear of having a horrible race, I decided I was going to do the race and just accept it for whatever it turned out to be. And instead of me dwelling on what could be, I was just going to focus more intently on the preparation before the race. The proper eating, the getting enough sleep, the meditation. Basically I was going to focus on doing everything right in that moment. I could dwell on the race outcome after I had actually completed the race. Yeah, I know, not ideal thinking either but it is the compromise I gave myself at the time. Baby steps people!

So there I was feeling all renewed and shit to do this race and that is when the lesson of patience was delivered to me…again.

This time in the form of an infection. An infection that had been growing in my body for the past few weeks (now that explains the tiredness!) had decided to become an issue I could no longer ignore.

Quick backgrounder: the lipoma, benign tumor made up of fat cells, that had been living on my upper back the past 8 years had decided to become infected. Apparently my body had all of a sudden decided to reject my lipoma in the weeks before my race (awesome timing right!?). And because I had no idea what was going on (hello, I can’t exactly see back there people!) or any idea it was even possible for a lipoma to just become spontaneously infected (although apparently it happens ALL the time) the infection got pretty bad and required me to be on antibiotics. And at first, when I started the antibiotics, I thought, no problem, I can still race, this will clear up in the next few days. Aren’t I super cute and adorable when I’m all delusional?!

Yeah, it didn’t clear up. Two days before my race, I ended up hanging out in the ER waiting to have my infected lipoma drained by a doctor (who was absolutely lovely btw). After draining the painful lipoma for 30 minutes, wherein the entire ER got to hear me scream in pain (read: swear repeatedly), I asked the question we were all waiting for:

“So, can I run?”

The doctor starts to say yes, in a very hesitant way, and then emphasizes the strict cleaning procedure that will need to happen if I do run.

And that is when I realize I’m coming off like a crazy running addict, like all us runners are perceived because most of us are crazy addicts about running. However, I’m trying to change that, I do NOT want to be that addict anymore. I’m trying to be healthy. I’m trying to live a recovery lifestyle. I don’t want to be compulsive anymore.  So I try another approach.

“So, if I take some time off running, will this infection heal quicker?”

The doctor looks relieved that she is actually dealing with a rational human being (rare in the running world) and says “Absolutely!”

“Well then I guess I’m going to take a break from running.” And I smile. I smile, not just because I was high off the endorphins from the 30 minutes of excruciating pain I just went through but because I was finally not acting in my typical obsessive compulsive way about running. Either I was finally learning something here or this was just some variant of my anal controlling personality. You know that part of my personality that frequently doses my hands in sanitizer because I have “germ issues”. Because seriously people, it does seem super unhygienic of me to get bucket loads of sweat in the gaping hole in my back, doesn’t it?

It is nice for me, all of us I suppose, to think, that in this life, we can grow as people, and actually learn some important lesson, like patience or living in the moment or whatever. Sometimes I think it is just more realistic for me to accept that maybe I will never learn the lesson of patience but instead I will just get better at making my anal controlling personality work in my best interests. I guess it doesn’t matter because in the end, the result is the same.

Despite your best efforts, you will end up with that pustule on your back, and you will have to deal with it puking out infected lipoma for the next few days and you will be in pain and no you will not be running and there is nothing you can do about it. I think what I have learned is that I would rather not freak out about the things I cannot control and instead just let them unfold as they were meant to.

So did I finally learn the lesson of patience? For now I feel I have, and when I forget that lesson, as I always do, I will get another lesson delivered to me to help me remember what I need to keep working on. I just hope next time the lesson doesn’t come in the form of an infected lipoma. #JustSaying

Me running (pre infected lipoma)

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