So let’s remove the fig leaf. ... 2014 was the worst year of my life, a year of unprecedented loss. No running. No races. The proximal hamstring tendinopathy (where the hamstring tendon attaches to the sitbones) will not be healed enough for running until the summer of 2015. Although I’ve been in physical therapy since the injury occurred in May 2013, the doctors looked at the MRIs and after many exams finally told me last summer that it’s a 2-year injury. This devastated me.
Every single day I dream of running and racing again. I study every book and journal article I can find on rehab and running technique. Every PT exercise, every day, is to get me back into running. This has lasted for almost 2 years. I’ve never gone without running for more than a few months in my entire life until now.
Other losses: Both of my daughters left home for college, leaving the house very empty. A close loved one quickly began deteriorating with early dementia. My best friend at work died suddenly. The administrivia at my federal job intensified more than ever before, taking me away from the kind of work I love and robbing it of meaning.
It was the perfect storm of losses. Severe depression & anxiety were the result.
The struggle became so overwhelming that I left my job of 23 years with the Forest Service, despite the resulting financial pressure. My boss wanted to keep me on leave without pay, but I needed more help. Rooted in both genetics and merciless perfectionism, and crappy self-worth, the psychiatric disorders caused me to withdraw and isolate. I had “lost” my running friends, work friends and church friends. So the day after I quit, I left for a 3-week hospital stay at Meier Clinics in Dallas and was diagnosed with severe MDD and GAD, with PTSD from the loss of running due to the injury.
I’m still grieving the losses and illogically dreading the future, shedding the most real tears since I was a baby. But I have the tools, therapy and meds to help climb out of the pit. I just need to use them and rest. It's quite challenging to just be a "human being" rather than a "human doing." 2015 is a time to redefine. I finally have some traction in my training program where I can slowly step up my training program without pain, for the first time since 2013.
So what of my racing future?
I’m still 100% committed and burning hot to race on the trails. But I’ve finally had to admit that 2015 is a transition year, not a comeback year. Periodization is necessary, but it’s counterintuitive to my perfectionism that sees phasing as a weakness. A transition year is antithetical to a performance-based sense of self-worth. It’s humbling because there’ll be no dramatic breakthrough moments physically or mentally. I must patiently continue to train in the moment.
Transition. Phase-in.There’s nothing wrong with just participating in races, no matter how slow I go. I’m ferociously competitive, mostly with myself--but if that’s all I am, then I’m an empty human. Performance-based addiction--basing my self-worth on performance--will always, always, ultimately lead to a dead-end.
It’s time to trample the fig leaf and heal.
I originally began this blog 3 years ago to inspire, inform and entertain, from the perspective of a non-elite. I just wanted to sharpen my writing skills and have fun. But it evolved into somewhat of a fig leaf. And so over the next year, I’ll begin refining Feral Pursuits to reflect the original purpose better. In other words, not trying to impress anymore, and basing my self-worth on what God says about me.
What of 2015? My main goal is to be in shape for elk season, which is more physically demanding than any trail race. I also signed up for the Bighorn 18M with my wife and nephew but may have to back out if I want to “run” the Skunk Hollow 12K up on Casper Mountain. The Black Squirrel Half Marathon trail race and the Silent Trails 10M are also tentatively on my calendar. It will be very humbling not to run these at full speed, but it’s okay. It’s just okay.
So 2015 = Transition, and 2016 = The Comeback. Ultra trail races are still very much in my future.
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading, and shoot me an email.