Hope: There is a fire that burns inside of me @milepostsSomeone once told me that hope was a fruitless emotion. That the nature of hope implies waiting for something to come your way or for something to happen but to not work for it. I disagreed on many levels but it wasn’t until today that I fully grasped why hope has been so important in my life and why it will continue to be an emotion I rely on.

A couple of years ago I started suffering from bouts of dizziness {to make a very long story short}. I backed out of races including Boston Marathon and had my first DNF at a marathon earlier this year. When I went to China to run the Great Wall of China marathon the biggest concern of mine was the dizziness. Getting dizzy while alone on course in a foreign country wasn’t my idea of fun. It also was/is something that’s extremely hard to push through once it happens because of the disorienting nature of it and because what usually follows is me uncontrollably puking {something happened to me in the MCM 10K last year – which confirmed in my head that I made the right decision by not running the marathon that year}.

Dizziness has stolen too many moments from me over the past couple of years.

Some days it has felt like my world was crashing in. I was unable to see the silver lining.

I went from running a 3:13 at Marine Corps Marathon in 2013, to a 3:18 a couple of weeks later at Rock N Roll Las Vegas to feeling like I could barely make it through a long run in 2015.

I slowed down on my runs to what was an almost uncomfortable pace. It felt like the dizziness happened more often on runs I was pushing the pace even the slightest, so slowing was my only option. At points I thought I had figured out what was going on and felt confident when it wouldn’t happen for a couple of months, only to have it happen on run after run.

I’ve tried to allow this experience teach me and help me grow as a person and a runner. I believe it has.

What I once believed was dedication had become an obsession. Not being physically able to be obsessed with something can teach you a lot about your dedication.

Related: Why Striving For PR’s Lowered My Self Worth

I run less now but am more dedicated. Why? Because in two years of getting dizzy, I haven’t quit. From time to time I have a pity party, but for the most part, the fire in me has burned brighter with each bucket of water that gets dumped on me.

Three weeks ago I attempted my first tempo run of my Rock N Roll DC Marathon training. I ran the first mile in a 7:10, I was annoyed. It felt like a 6:10. Half way through mile 2 and my world started spinning and I had to stop. A couple of curse words later I jogged/walked home – defeated and mad.

HOPE.

I went out on a run that was supposed to be easy not long after. A friend texted me and was on her way to my house, only I wasn’t there and I didn’t want to say – I won’t be there for another 15 – thinking that she may say oh I’ll come by another time – so I texted back while running – I’ll be there in less than 10. Less than 10 meant I needed to push it. HOPE said, just try Dorothy.

So I tried. I ran a 6:42 for the last mile of that run and felt elated. HOPE was filling in my cracks.

HOPE that one day soon I’ll be able to train the way I want to train and not have something like dizziness holding me back.

I don’t need to be fast – I want to feel good and I have HOPE that one day soon I will.

Times on the clock don’t directly bring happiness. It doesn’t work that way. If you receive joy from a time, it’s more than just the time, it’s the work that goes in to it. The time is the icing on the cake that proves to yourself that you can do something that is hard or something you once found impossible. Some of our happiest and strongest races can produce the slowest of times. Some of the fastest races can bring us down. It’s not 1 + 1 = 2 when it comes to running. This is what dizziness has taught me.

Dizziness opened the door to other activities. Ones I may never have tried otherwise. This was the year I bought a bike. Dizziness gave me that. This was the year I started swimming. Dizziness gave me that.

HOPE.

Last week I attempted another fast for me mile. I didn’t want the 6:42 to be a fluke. I didn’t want to attempt to run another fast for me mile and get dizzy. I ran a 6:43 mile in the middle of that run. I wanted more, but I held back. Be smart. HOPE tells me that if I am smart that good things will come.

Today after procrastinating for an hour I set out for my tempo run. 2 miles at tempo pace is what I would attempt. I willed every good and happy thought I could find inside of me to carry me through 2 miles. I told myself to be smart again – run hard, but smart. I’d rather the slower end of the range and be able to run 2 fast miles in a row without getting dizzy, than to kill myself in mile 1 and have it end poorly.

3 mile warm up in the 9’s followed by a 6:50 and a 6:43….followed by a little cool down where I literally shed a tear of joy.

HOPE has kept me going when others have suggested I should quit.

Inside of me burns a fire. It was lit in 2003 when I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. Some days it burns hotter than other days but it never goes out. Dizziness started as a small cup of water being thrown on my fire. It dampened it but it kept burning. I’d throw more wood on the fire and HOPE that what I was adding was enough to keep the flame from going out completely. There were days I didn’t think I wanted to keep the fire burning. What was the point? I wasn’t getting warm from it and what is a fire if it’s not serving a purpose?

When fire isn’t being used to warm, it can be terribly destructive, burning everything in its path. For the most part I kept the fire contained. I didn’t let it catch other things on fire. I didn’t want it to burn me, I wanted it to warm me inside.

Then the buckets of water came. Bucket after bucket, each one threatening to extinguish the fire in me for good. It was almost as if the flames as they drowned were laughing at me. But that was me and not them. Only I cared that the fire was in danger of going out – the fire knows nothing of its existence – it just is. This meant that only I could keep the fire going. So I kept on adding wood, flaming the flames, and making sure the fire was getting everything it needed so that it would be strong when another bucket of water was tossed on it.

Today I added extra wood. The fire does not feel damp. I have HOPE that one day what will get dumped on my fire will only be cups of water. That the buckets will become a thing of the past. Cups of water I can handle – they are the normal ups and downs that threaten but never cause the fire to go out. What I do know and what hope gives me, is knowing and believing that whatever water gets thrown on me I will keep going. I will burn brightly.

 

Isaiah 40:31

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Comments

  1. DONA FISHER says:

    Thank you for your sharing! I, too, have a fire that keeps getting dumped on by injuries from loving running and pushing too hard too fast to the point that I’m sidelined now. But I know that I too will have to make adjustments when I start back training, such as running slower, building my mileage up slowly and not pushing to the point of injury every time I train. I just want to run and run consistently and make it to the races! Have some fun! I thank you for your words and it truly sparked some HOPE in me too! Thank you!

  2. Well, I can see where hope can be perceived as somewhat hokey. It’s not real, it’s not in the moment. But hope can also be a guide. I’ve been dealing with some frustrating injuries, and at this point I probably won’t ever be able to run again. But the hope that I’ll find a solution to fix my back, and maybe one day run again (or at least live a day pain free) truly keeps me going. So I agree with you – hope keeps me going when most people tell me to get real and just deal with it. Thanks.

  3. You had written splendid content on Hope. Hope is for something that isn’t seen, something that isn’t present. Once it becomes present, there’s no longer any reason to hope for it. So, hope means you’re looking at something that you can’t see. You might be thinking, well, if you can’t see it, how are you looking at it? You can see things with your heart, and this is what I believe the imagination is. Hope is the greatest thing, even above faith.

  4. Lindsay Waldron says:

    What a wonderful post, thank you for sharing!

  5. It is the season of hope! I loved reading your story. Sometimes that fire gets dampened but it never quite goes away. Hope and prayers for a wonderful 2017 running season for you!

  6. It’s the season of hope! Thank you for sharing your story. HOPING and praying for many good days ahead!

  7. I hope for you, too! DC is a fun place to run, so I also hope the race is good to you!

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