If you’ve been following my chronicles for the past few years, you may have noticed a distinct (and unintentional) arch in my stories. I started out slingling comical anecdotes about the particularities of being a non-runner married to an endurance athlete (ie witnessing the following phenomena: exhaustion-induced narcolepsy, eating habits akin to a bear in pre-hibernation, sweaty laundry in amounts that teeter between impressive and rage-inducing, etc.) I’d write about these things, peppered with the hardships that come from a traveling husband and raising a young family. For a few years, while I was in the midst of growing babies and keeping them alive, I sometimes felt (even while entranced in the love of my children) like a distant observer in my own life.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, I started to develop a love for running that ignited a fire of self-rediscovery. Soon, all of the quirks that I had lived with but could never comprehend started to make sense: I, too, began falling asleep at 8pm and finally understood the need to watch a 45 minute episode of Peaky Blinders over the course of 3 days (“wait- rewind that part. I think I fell asleep. Do you even know who that character is?”) I started to return from runs in a state of panic if there were no avocados for the avocado toast I had been tasting in my mind for the past 2 hours out on the trails. Honestly. Who ate the last avocado? I know it was sitting right on top of that banana at a 45 degree angle away from the coconut oil before I left. What, did you want me to write my name on it? Because I did, in Sharpie. It said STEPH. How do you expect me to make avo toast without avo? Are you unfamiliar with the ways of the basic betch?
Unfortunately, my love for running had a hyperbolic relationship with my husband’s ability to run: around the time that I started to get into it, my husband broke his sacrum and had to be off his feet for months. While it was difficult to watch my husband become unable to do the thing that gives him life, it did open up a lot of free time for me to try my hand at endurance running. Once I got over the initial hump of “omg I literally hate running and I feel like I am going to die and why would anyone do this to themselves?”, I started to relish the mountains, the trails and that constructive burn in my legs and lungs.
All of these experiences led to a new sense of pride and badassery that I hadn’t felt within myself for a long time, and I loved it. But another, perhaps even more poignant thing happened as I started to run and race: the quiet yet pervasive jealousy I harbored for my husband’s ability to pursue his dreams melted away. I had finally found something that was all for me- that was difficult and made me push through preconceived limitations, both mental and physical- in a beautifully cathartic way. It was time consuming and a little selfish, just the right kind of self-indulgence I needed. In a sense (and I admit this sounds petty), I no longer felt left behind.
Rather than being resentful about my ability to run, my husband became my number one fan, happily taking the kids for hours at a time over the weekend, bringing delicious food to me while I soaked in Epsom salt baths after particularly long runs and proudly cheering for me at my first race. It could have been easy for him to feel irritated by our new reversal of roles, especially because running for me was a self-indulgent hobby whereas his ability to run pays the bills. But he was only supportive, never negative. It made me feel pretty silly for those quiet resentments I had harbored.
But like many things in life, and despite my husband’s advice for “more reigns less whip”, I overdid it and ran myself into injury. Ironically, it was just around this time that he was getting back on his running feet. So there I was, feeling like I was back at square one with my self-imposed frustrations, watching my husband regain his goals and strength while I tried to garner as much satisfaction as possible from my P90X classes (by the way, those classes are no joke. But for reals.)
This time, however, instead of feeling like a bystander amidst the whirlwind of adulting, I realized that I was the source of my own frustration. No one was causing me to feel this way. Likewise, I was the one that had put in the hard work towards growing a love for running and garnered its purifying accoutrements. I was the one who did that. To put it in the words of Walter White, “I’m the one who knocks.” (And I mean that in the most empowering, least methy way possible.) No one had put me in either situation. It was all me, for better and for worse.
I quickly began to understand that I have the power to choose how I view my life, regardless of my inability to run. Really, running was just the real-life metaphorical kick in the ass I needed to remind myself that I am in charge. I don’t have to be the victim of a hectic life if I choose to take control. I can choose to live a self-fulfilling life regardless of the chaos. I can even be bolstered by it. I shouldn’t be resentful or self-conscious of other people’s success. If I want it, I should go get it. I am privileged enough to be able to choose how I want to live my life, and that is a gift I don’t want to take for granted
So yes, I hope to get back into running. My love affair with her was brief, but our torrid relationship taught me to take charge of my life, in outlook and action. So here’s to no longer being a candy ass at life. After all, I am the one who knocks.