On Half-Marathons and Broken Hearts

I have run two half-marathons (my third will be the 2016 Brooklyn Half) and I have had my heart broken a few more times than that. In my most recent heartbreak, I realize how similar running a half-marathon is to the process of picking myself back up when I have fallen too hard for someone.

When starting a race, I’m ok. I’m fine. I don’t get nervous. I may have a few thoughts about how glad I’ll be when it’s over, but I’m more anxious to just get going. Standing in the corrals with thousands of other racers, I feel really alone. But I’m ok with that. I’m just working on being calm and preparing.

I know that the first part will be the hardest. I know if I can just get past the first mile or two, I’ll be ok. From miles 2-4, I’m in the zone. I’m feeling good. I’m forgetting that there’s still a lot of ground to cover. But I’m at a steady pace. I’m even smiling a little. I’m encouraged. I’m attempting to enjoy the race and the scenery around me.

Around mile 5 or 6 is when I start getting a little frustrated. I’m not even halfway through? Where’s the Gatorade? Is that a blister I’m feeling? Oh god, my nipples are starting to chafe. Why didn’t I train more for this?

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Struggling during the 2015 Brooklyn Half

So I walk. I take my time. I rest. I let my energy build back up. Occasionally I’ll start a small trot. I know I’ll finish, but it feels really far away. These few miles are when I am really alone with my thoughts. And that can be scary.

Mile 10 is rough. I’ve come so far and I know I’m so close. But everything hurts. People are passing me. I’m trying really hard to focus on me and only me, but it’s hard. I wonder if anyone I know will be along the finish to cheer me on. But I know there won’t be. So I get a little down. I have to remind myself that I’m doing this for me and no one else.

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The final 200 meters or so… can you see the exhaustion in that smile?

Thankfully, that part goes by fairly fast. Pretty soon I’m hitting mile 13 and I know I just have a couple of hundred meters left and I need to pull every ounce of my energy and strength to finish strong. I refuse to walk across a finish line. I will run. Cue the “you can do it” inner pep talks. (Pretty sure I have actually uttered these words aloud to myself during a race).

 

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Always, always finish strong.

And then I see cheering faces along the finish stretch. I begin to smile. People are ringing bells and clapping. A friendly stranger will run up next to me—”We GOT this!”—and I’ll push across the finish. Usually choking down some tears.

And when it’s over and every inch of my body hurts and I’m walking like there’s a hot metal rod up my ass, I know I’ll be ok. I know because I’ve been there before. I’ve covered the miles and the ups and the downs and I endured.

My heart has been broken a few times. And it will likely be broken again. The aftermath of heartache sucks. There are high moments and low moments; one day it’s all confidence and independence and awesomeness and the next it’s being bummed that you can’t talk to your best friend anymore. But it’s not a sprint. I’ll have good miles and bad miles. But eventually, I’ll finish. And I’ll be running when I do.

 

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To Bear or Not to Bear

I have been known for being pretty adamant about not wanting to have children. I’ve heard all the condescending criticism about changing my mind when I find that someone special… blah, blah, blah. But the other day a friend from college messaged me to let me know his wife, also my friend, was pregnant. I immediately started crying. And I didn’t understand why.

I’m 35 years old, single and childless. And I have been ok with that. But lately, I have been wondering… what if I am going to want kids? What if I miss my chance? And no, I’m not going to rush out to freeze my eggs anytime soon. But it is making me think that I’m starting to race against time.

For me, having kids isn’t a selfish thing. It’s not about what I want. I don’t long to be a mother. It’s not something that I really ever imagined. But I’m realizing something and it’s really scaring the shit out of me. I think having kids is about sharing something so important with someone you love. Two people coming together and creating life from their love. Yeah, this might be something you all know… but it’s just hitting me. And it’s something I’m afraid I’ll miss out on.

This might be because there’s a person in my life that’s making me look to the future more than I ever have. But for whatever reason, it’s not working. At this moment I can’t imagine caring for someone as much as I do for him. I can’t imagine sharing my life, and possibly a family, with anyone else. Without him knowing, I have been questioning my whole theory on the kids thing.

I figure I have about 5 years before this decision will come off the table. I mean, if my health and body are holding up, maybe more. But suddenly that doesn’t seem like a lot of time. To meet someone that I love deeply enough to want to create a family… that doesn’t come around often. If you do the sad and pessimistic math there, I don’t have long. It took me a long time before I found this one person… if it takes that long again, I’ll surely miss the boat.

The frustrating part is that I’m starting to want these things… but as time goes on it is becoming less likely I will get them. I don’t want to have a kid for the sake of having a kid. I want to be able to share something with one person that I can’t share with anyone else. And it’s making me pretty sad to think I won’t.

I would really love to hear from people who started families later… met their significant others later. I really need some reassurance right about now.

Secure in my Insecurity

I’m pretty much an open book. And I’m sure to many people I appear confident and strong. But the truth is, I’m an insecure mess.

Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m pretty terrific. But for some reason, when I’m in a relationship, I worry about being terrific enough for that person. As a consequence, I say and do things that create friction. I become passive aggressive. I say things I don’t mean in order to get a reaction. I become anxious. I write blog posts on the topic…

Sometimes it feels like I’m not even in control. This little monster just takes over and I lose my head. And then I make things worse. And the whole time I know this. I’m aware of it; I loathe myself for it. I just can’t stop it. I really think that my last few relationships ended because of my insecurity. Even if the person wasn’t good for me and I knew it, I wasn’t secure enough to walk away. My last relationship definitely put my insecurities to the test. And though I really thought I was improving, I was overcome by them and destroyed a truly good thing.

Until I am magically cured of this affliction, however, I just make an effort to be super conscious of it. I’m a work in progress… always trying to improve. Others may not see it, but I know I am.