Sunday, June 1, 2014

Perseverance Pays Off.

My week off from chemo should theoretically be full of fun and games. This week turned out to be stressful. We had a car die and we needed to replace it quickly. My insurance company decided to deny another expensive claim. So instead of focusing on enjoying a week off, stresses over finances took a front seat in my mind.

Nevertheless, I was able to get out and enjoy the weather this week. On Monday, during my run, I was fortunate enough to be on the AIr Force Academy grounds while the thunderbirds were practicing. 

On Tuesday, I thought I would attempt my once per month longer than ten mile run. I managed to finish 16 miles, but there was definitely some walking involved. On Wednesday, I met my friend Phil for a walk. Phil has been injured as of late and is required to take a few weeks off from running. Phil took me on a tour of his neighborhood. We saw some great horned owls, which was a real treat. The lighting of this picture is not great, but if you look closely, you can see an adult and an owlet.

During the month after my surgery, when I could not run, I had several runner friends come and walk with me. I felt so fortunate that people would take the time to come and walk my thirty minute mile pace. Runners can be quite obsessive about their training schedules. We often don't want to slow down and just walk. I love to run like no other, but I have found that I really see so much more when I go for a walk. More importantly, it made me happy to keep an injured friend company. That was infinitely more important than getting in a training run. 

On Thursday, I ran with my husband before he went in to work. On Friday, I ran by myself and actually felt ok. That does not happen very often these days. When I feel "ok", it is a pleasant surprise. While I was running, I was thinking about how nearly every run since September has been hard. Some days, it is just no fun at all. I want to quit. I want to throw in the towel. But, I know I will just keep plugging along, doing what I can depending on the day. Some days will be really hard and others less so. 

People may think I am crazy for continuing to run every day even when there is little joy in it. I know that if I keep doing it now, when I finish chemo and get all of the toxic chemicals out of my body, I will come back strong because I will not be starting from scratch. I still have a base. I cannot wait to make the transition from feeling weak, slow, and generally unwell to feeling strong and falling in love with running all over again. Anyone can keep going when they feel good or are having a good time. What I hope will pay off for me over the long haul is that I have continued to stay active through many months where it was difficult. This does not mean I push myself hard every day. Some days I run slowly and some I run/walk.

Perseverance matters. My younger daughter started karate lessons a while back. She enjoyed it at first, but then went through a period where she found it boring. The pace was not fast enough and learning the basics did not seem "fun". She wanted to quit and we argued about it. Ultimately, she chose to stick through the time she found it boring, and she is now working towards her green belt. She loves going to class and sparring. She never would have discovered how much she loves to spar if she had not stuck it out through the period where she felt boredom. She tells me routinely how she is so glad she stayed with karate.

Sticking with things when they are not fun or when they become boring teaches us that we have to work hard to reap rewards. Success in life will not come if we give up on something just because it is physically or mentally challenging. That is why even though I have slowed down considerably, I keep going. That is why, even though I have days where I break down in tears because running now feels so hard, I continue to get back out there day after day. 

Friday was a good day, and then Saturday was not. I had to walk almost the entire way I had planned to run. I was tired. The chemotherapy makes me much more sensitive to heat. I was suffering in the sun. I was frustrated. I wanted to cry. Instead, I walked when I had to and ran when I could. In a few minutes, I will be out there trying again.

Tomorrow I start my sixth and final cycle of three chemotherapy treatments. I am not sure how long it will be until I feel like myself, but I will keep going until I get there.

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