Friday, August 1, 2014

Taking The Long Road

by Sarah Reichert

I'm a runner (she says it like she's standing up at some 12-step program).

Today I leave in the dark and early with eleven, like-legged individuals to begin the Wild West Relay, a 200-mile race from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs.  I signed on months ago and have been preparing for it with a lot of early mornings.  Then, ten days ago, in the simple act of taking off my shoe, I was greeted with a sharp pain in my foot.

"No!" I said immediately to no one (though my dog did look guilty).  "This isn't happening!" I demanded, as if the words would take away the frightening twinge that caused me to hobble around my kitchen and shake my fists at the sky.  I should have known that  after a week of hard hills and two-a-day training I had put myself at risk.  Still, hell hath no fury like an injured runner two weeks away from the event they've trained six months for.  I knew, from past experience, that if I stood a chance, I'd need help.  Once the doctor cleared me with the diagnosis of a case of tendonitis, and I begrudgingly halted my training in favor of rest and icing, my whole being sighed with relief.

Coming to terms with setbacks and disappointments is something all of us must do, whether its in our personal lives, our running, or our writing.  Sometimes the passion, blood, sweat and tears we inject into our work doesn't translate to equal success on the other side.  Sometimes we trip crossing into the last mile.  Sometimes we fall.  And in that brief moment, lying on the ground, while your body tries to remember how to take in the breath that it lost in the fall, worry, hopelessness, and defeat seem to block any rational thought from picking us back up.

Responses can hobble us.  Well meaning critiques can torque our hearts and raise walls in defense.  But without these 'injuries' we learn so little of ourselves.  Without these setbacks we have no way to grow stronger, to understand where our frailties lie, and how to build a better method so that we can continue on our track.

I'm probably on the first leg of my 20-mile run by now, and I guarantee that my tendon is burning.  It's telling me that I can't.  But my heart says different.  I've rested it.  I've protected it.  I've learned a better technique and know the difference between pushing and breaking.  I know it can make the miles.  I know I can make the miles.  Belief, training, and desire will carry me past the fear of failing.

What techniques or suggestions have helped you to see and correct the weakness in your writing?  


Sarah Sullivan said...

Nice analogies! I hope you had a satisfying run. I'm impressed!

Jenny said...

Good for you!! If I were to attempt something like this race (which will never happen), I'd have to approach it the way I approach writing a novel: slowly, one day at a time, trying not to look back too much.

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