Month: December 2020

Arthritis

Yesterday I participated in Northern Colorado’s Annual Jingle Bell Run – the Virtual edition of 2020.

This weekend, Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Runners across the country have been coming together to attempt to break the Guinness World Records® title for the largest remote 5k in 24 hours.  To be included in the world record attempt, your virtual “run” must be logged on the RunGo app between 12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, December 12th and 12:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 13th

I started running/walking the Jingle Bell Run back in elementary school – though truly I only remember back to the walk I did in Middle School. I wasn’t really into running until college – so these ‘runs’ were always walks. They were also usually at the Oval on the campus of Colorado State University. I miss running in the snow on the Oval!

image description: a redhead wearing a blue jacket and a purple mask stands in front of the railroad transfer bridge in the water at Canton Waterfront Park.

Yesterday I walked down to the waterfront – Canton Waterfront Park – specifically and then back. There were TONS of people out in Baltimore yesterday as the weather was nice and in the 60s. I’m assuming it’s only worse today. Canton is particularly bad for lack of social distancing and mask wearing compliance.

Once I stopped at the waterfront, I immediately went northwards on a side street and made a point to avoid the main thoroughfares where lots of unmasked people were congregating. Getting outside makes a huge difference in my mental health but with my chronic illness I really want to avoid any exposure to the virus. My illness is on the list of particularly high risk – and outcomes of people who have it and get Covid are really bad right now so I am doing everything in my power to stay safe.

completed run image description: a redhead with a braid and a blue coat stands in front of a faux evergreen and ribbon wrapped light post on the street.

Dreams of Running

image description: Jennifer running across the finish line at a triathlon, she wears knee length leggings, a blue fleece jacket, and white sneakers.

I spent a lot of my young adulthood running. Running away from the terrors in my head, both literally and figuratively. I started training for triathlons in a practical sense during my senior year of college. I always struggled with sleep and running, or swimming in particular, was the only way I could sleep – I had to wear out my body so my mind would quiet enough.

I graduated into a recession – many of us in the mid 00s did. I had spent my whole life being told that if I worked hard, graduated from high school, went to college, and graduated with the best grades I could get, that I would be able to find a job that was reliable and steady and would overlook my disabilities. That was not the case.

So I ran. I ran to outrun the voice in my head that told me I was an absolute failure. That all my hard work was meaningless. I ran to get away from the fact that I hated myself for all of that – for the failure, for the disabilities that I could mostly hide but would never be able to ignore or forget.

When I finally got a ‘real world’ job, it was one of those places where I felt like a replaceable cog in the machine. I ran there too – I would take my lunch break, lace up my sneakers, and run around the lake just down the street from our building. I would cry as I ran because I was constantly feeling left out, not understanding or being included in office gossip even though our cubes all looked out to each other and I could see everyone talking and laughing without me.

I worked hard at that job. I loved working in filing and I loved organizing – I also loved the fact that it didn’t force me to sit on my butt all day. I coped with not being able to hear co workers by walking over to their desks to ask questions and get directions – rather than phoning them, which everyone else did. I knew I needed to lipread them to be able to follow so this was my way of getting my needs met without outing myself as a disabled person.

I woke up really early most days and I would either walk out my front door and run down the street – or I would hop in my car and jump on a treadmill. If I was at the gym and on the treadmill, I would lift afterwards. Every other day I would absolutely go swim laps before my brain woke up enough to complain to me about the cold water.

I don’t know how I managed to keep going like that either, when I finally quit that job and moved away from my home state I wasn’t running to get away as much. I was running because it made me feel good, because it was a way to get to know my surroundings, and it was a way to build a community in a new place.

Because things changed – I started processing all the reasons behind my running/workout obsession. It was a good thing in many ways, but it also brought to light a lot of really difficult internal processes. It’s something I am still working out to this day. Maybe you can relate.

What things have you used to cope or how have you run away from things in your life? Comment below!

❤ Jennifer