The half-marathon for which I've been training for the last six months will go on without me.
The calf injury has taken me out of the running. Literally.
I wrote about some of my feelings, the specifics of my injury, and the electrical stimulation and Active Release Technique therapy my chiropractor is giving me over on my health and wellness blog. You can check out that post here.
I kept that post fairly light. The personal details and the deeper emotions I'm experiencing because of not running, I've left for this blog, where I feel safer, and where many of you know exactly what my training and what this race meant to me.
The past six months have been difficult. Really, really difficult. Training for a big event like a marathon, half-marathon, or a triathlon is more than physically challenging. There is a huge mental game that's played as well.
Anyone in training has to put aside certain parts of their "normal" lives in order to train. Sleep is lost. Family time shrinks. Friendships are put on the back burner. Budgets are blown on gear.
In that respect, I am not much different than anyone else.
But to all of this, I added the primary responsibility of childcare for three kids under the age of 4.
To this, I added what amounts to a part-time (and often more) work schedule, beginning when the kids go to bed at 7pm and ending at midnight.
In these respects, training was more challenging for me. Most days, it took every last ounce of energy, every last spare second of the day, every last bit of mental and physical strength I had.
And while I know in my mind it isn't, my heart feels like it was all for nothing.
I always ran on less than six hours of sleep. I ran after getting three kids up, fed, dressed, packed up with snacks and cups, strapped into car seats, and dropped off at my gym's daycare, and said silent prayers while getting in my miles on the treadmill that one of the twins wouldn't need a diaper change while I was mid-run.
Sometimes I ran in the pre-dawn hours of hot summer Saturdays, trying to beat the heat and humidity. I ran while the kids got up, ate breakfast, and began the day.
Sometimes I ran while closing the door on two screaming toddlers, who wondered where mommy was going and when she would be back. I returned to toddlers still screaming, swirling around my feet, begging to be picked up, whose needs allowed no time for recovery from 10+ mile runs completed at an 8:20 pace.
Their needs and mine were never compatible.
I trained minus support, in most cases. My sister is training for a half-marathon too, on the other side of the country. We shared running stories. Isabella expressed concern over my disappearing toenails, and always asked me when I returned, "How many miles did you run today, mommy?" And the people who work at my gym, all of them athletes, would ask me how training was going, offering encouragement and advice.
But everyone else in my family regarded my training with feelings ranging from indifference to disdain. No one got it. They thought I was selfish, stupid, and over-extending myself for no reason. There was resentment and anger and very little empathy when I got injured. I can count on one hand the number of people in my immediate circle who get what I'm going through right now.
It's hard to go through this level of disappointment alone.
My training was not easy, physically or emotionally.
I wanted to cross that finish line on Sunday with a time around 1hour, 50 minutes. I wanted to cross that finish line knowing I accomplished something many aren't able to. That I, with the utter insanity of my life, was able to run my race and meet my goal time in spite of everything that threatened to hold me back every single day.
I wanted to cross that finish line because running has always been the one thing I could control, in a life that spirals out of it daily.
Now this goal, this dream of the half-marathon, like so many others, has to be shelved too.
I know there are many races ahead of me. I know I will have another chance in seven months, when my city has its next half-marathon.
But right now it's hard for me to accept that it's over. I've fallen short. And while I accept that what happened to me was beyond my control, it does not make the pain lessen.
And there's not a damn thing I can do about it.