February 13, 2012

Gut feeling

Interestingly enough, after I posted yesterday morning about crying over ridiculous things, I spent a solid hour and a half of the day in tears. Understandable and justifiable ones, but tears nonetheless.

To backtrack.

The only thing I love more than running is racing, and so it struck me as odd that all of last week, I was dreading my race yesterday. When I signed up, I had been really excited - finally, a local race! I wouldn't have to travel to Chicago or a bigger California city in order to run with other people!

As the race grew nearer, though, I got anxious. It got so bad, in fact, that I started to lose sleep over it. I couldn't understand it. I love to run. I wanted to run. But I didn't want to race, if that makes sense. I wanted to run, just not there. I posted a message on Twitter, hoping for some feedback, and everyone said not to worry, that the race would go well and I'd feel better once I got there and started to run. I went to sleep Saturday night still unsure, and woke up yesterday morning equally as conflicted. The race entry was only $20, tough but not a huge loss. I'll go back to sleep and just run later.

I laid in bed for a solid half-hour before getting up, throwing my running outfit on, and hopping on my bike to head down to the starting line on Main Street. Per usual, I had my iPod on with one earphone; the Polyphonic Spree's Light and Day cheered me up tremendously as I pedaled towards the town square, where everyone was gathering. It's impossible to hear that song and feel anything but joyous and hopeful.

I locked up my bike on the rack to the side of the post-race food and water table, then headed over to the information booth to check my bag (all it had was my helmet; I kept my apartment key, ID, and debit card in the zipped pocket of my running pants). We sang the national anthem, watched the local high school mascots do a quick fun run, waited for the kids' 1K to be over, and then off we went - 5K to the left, 10K to the right.

The race went well, and I kept up an average pace of 9:49 for most of it ... until we got to the hills. There are only a few hills in this town, and we ran up them all. It slowed me down a bit, and for the first time ever in a race, I had to stop and walk for 30 seconds. I didn't want to - especially since it was at mile 5.5 out of 6.2 - but I also knew I would slow down even more if I didn't take a few seconds to recover. Up one last hill, around a corner, and finally, the finish line. The company they used for timing hasn't sent the official results yet, but my Garmin said 61:11 - or, 4:48 off my last 10K time. I was pleased, and definitely felt better about the 30 second walk break as I walked towards the town square for a drink and half a muffin.

When I finished, I walked over to the information booth and got my helmet, then went to jump on my bike and head home. There was one bike on the bike rack ... but it wasn't mine. In the spot where my bike had been was just the lock, dangling there. It had been cut through and left there, as if to say "No, you're not mistaken. This *is* where you left your bike." I shrugged and tossed the lock into my bag, and started to walk. The calm lasted about twenty seconds, and then the sobbing began. And it lasted the entire three mile walk home.

Someone stole my bike, and there's really nothing to say about that more tactful than "that totally sucks." The tears were for the loss, but also, for feeling like a failure. Biking isn't just recreational for me - besides walking or taking the university shuttle, it's really the only way I have to get around. There's a lot of glorious stuff to see in California, but I'm limited to as far as I can go on my bike. And now, I don't even have that.

I've had a few opportunities to learn how to drive. My dad was teaching me when I was in college - he worked near my university, so he'd pick me up on a Friday afternoon and I'd drive part of the way home. After his heart attack, though, the lessons stopped. I didn't seek lessons elsewhere, because I had a few fears about driving - some rational, some not. First, because if I was in a car accident, I was afraid I was too big for the paramedics to get me out of the vehicle. Second, because if I had a car, it would open up another realm of possibilities for my binge eating. And third, because I was profoundly depressed, and having a car opened up various life-ending possibilities.

I sought help for my depression, I walked to the places where I bought the food for my binges, and I avoided thinking about the fact that even as a passenger, I could be injured in a car accident and need a paramedic to lift me. And then I moved to Chicago, with an incredibly public transit system, and the non-driving was never an issue. I knew how to get around within city limits, and I knew a few people with cars just in case. In California, though, I don't have all the resources I need to get a license - namely, access to a vehicle. I can't get a license because I don't have a car with which to practice/take the exam. But I can't get a car because I don't have a license. Catch 22.

Walking home, I felt stupid. Stupid for using my fears as excuses for putting off getting a license for so long. Stupid for moving somewhere on a whim without seriously investigating the transportation issue. And stupid for not listening to my gut when it said to stay in bed that morning. I biked 3 miles, ran 6, was walking 3, and would need to make another 3 mile round trip to the bike store (not to mention coughing up a few hundred dollars I hadn't planned on spending). Tired and upset, I got to my apartment, dropped everything, and called Matt.

Something I both love and hate about Matt is his tendency to focus on negatives. He can be a total Debbie Downer sometimes, and it's tough to love someone and want to support them in any way you can when he or she doesn't seem to have the same faith and confidence in his or herself as you do. At the same time, though, I'm optimistic to a fault, and tend to only see silver linings, never the clouds. His focus on the realities of situations is necessary, since my focus is almost exclusively on the positive outcomes. It might not work for everyone, but the way we balance each other out works very well for us.

Yesterday, as I sobbed into the phone about what happened, he comforted me. Yes, this sucks. No, you are not stupid. And then he rattled off several things that are worse than having my bike stolen. The list of really terrible things made me realize that my problem could have been much, much worse. And it made me smile. It was exactly what I needed.

I posted about the bike on Facebook and then went to take a shower and cool off a bit before heading to the bike store, and in the meantime, a woman I met from the very small 5K I did when I first moved here commented, saying she had an old bike that I was more than welcome to have. In exchange, I baked her a few dozen cookies. I walked to the store and bought just what I needed for the recipe, and the rest of the flour and sugar went right into the trash. I had a few cookies that didn't fit in the container I bought for her, and I certainly ate some. One, then another, then another. And when I got the gut feeling that I wasn't in control, that even though I wasn't hungry, I was going to keep eating them until they were gone ... I buried them deep in the trash.

So, yesterday wasn't a total loss. I PRed at the race, I got a decent bike to use until my tax return shows up and I can buy my same exact bike again, and I threw out cookies instead of binging on them.

Learning, little by little, to trust that gut feeling.


Anonymous said...

Being stolen from really brings out some feelings and emotion that are strange. You feel so vulnerable and violated. It's tough to wrap your mind around why someone could be so low.

One time, someone stole my wallet and the only damage they did was to fill their gas tank. They then left my wallet with the cash and credit card in the bathroom of the gas station. The worker found it, tracked me down and I got everything back, minus the $45 to fill their gas tank on my credit card. I thought, 'Well, I hope they got to where they needed to be'. I guess you could use the same thought, it did help me in some way. I mean, I guess they needed it THAT bad that they saw no other option than to take what wasn't theirs. Low, but they can carry the guilt of theft too (assuming they have that capability).

I like how you quickly turned things around for yourself, called a friend to gain some perspective and just kept moving forward. I'm happy you found a bike to use.

Stay strong and just keep going!

Miss Carrie Ann said...

What an effing a-hole! I hope that person falls off of your bike and gets a concussion! I will never understand why someone would take something that doesn't belong to them! You spent YOUR money that YOU earned to buy that bike and there is no reason you should have to spend that money twice! It's so awesome that someone is letting you use their bike in the meantime.

Mrs. S. said...

I am so sorry! And so relieved that someone had an extra to gift you. I hoped your week is much better.

El said...

oh wow..... i canNOT believe that. im so sorry about your bike. but glad that you have wonderful people around you. "that gut feeling that you are not in control" i have had that and never put it in words before. hey..... soooo are you and matt "together" i know i am nosy.... you can just ignore my comment if you dont feel like answering.

Ann said...

Mary, I am SO sorry about your bike, but it sounds like everything ended up ok. Great job listening to your body and NOT continuing to eat. You are amazing.

Anonymous said...

It's hard when those gut feelings don't make sense until after the fact. Like not wanting to race and then having your bike get stolen.

It really does suck. I'm sorry that a lousy person would actually take someone's bike from a race. I like to think that people are better than that, but clearly they are not.

Good for you for turning the day around and listening to your gut for the rest of the day.


Unknown said...

Oh, Mary. You strong, beautiful, courageous woman. Moving to California was an incredibly brave thing to do. You have achieved so much in so little time. I know it's not always easy to see when you're neck-deep in the negative aspects of life, but as your readers - we see your strength with every post.
I am sorry about your bike, but so grateful that you were given one to use. That is so great. BIG hugs to you.

Taryn said...


I'm so sorry to hear about your bike. That truly does suck...although I probably would have used stronger language if it were me. I'm glad to hear that even though you haven't made as many contacts in California as you had in Chicago that there are still people you can count on to be your friend.

You are a very strong woman and you should be proud of yourself.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about your bike. Outside Magazine had an article about bike thefts recently, and it was astonishing to read how ubiquitous the problem is.

Tammy said...

Ug, my heart sank when I saw the lock. :( People have no idea how they can really impact another persona life.

Sounds like you turned it around with awesome flare!

No binge, useful bike for the "meantime", and cookies for someone else that will enjoy them.

:) You rocked the frown upside down.

h@wou said...

Hey Mary,
I just started reading your blog recently, but had yet to say anything. However, when I read the comment after getting your bike stolen about "feeling like a failure". You should NEVER feel like a failure because other people are a**holes. If every good person out there felt like somehow they were at fault when someone else did something wrong, the world would be an awful place. It's okay to get angry at other people sometimes! They can deserve anger, especially when you don't deserve any of the hate.
Nice getting an extra bike though.

Jessica said...

I'm sorry Marry. You and Matt sound much like me and Tommy...I am the positive and he the negative...and it is a good balance.

sheila said...

File a police report. You never know the bike may show up.

Katie Foster said...

Mary, I'm SO sorry that happened to you! That's such an awful feeling when you've been stolen from, and you keep saying, "What if..."

You're SUPER brave to have uprooted your life and move across the country! Not many people would have the courage to do that.

I hope things turn around for you soon.

kristi said...

God this sucks so bad. I am sorry this happened to you. My bike was stolen as a teen, someone cut the lock too and I was devastated.

Heather Forcey said...

First off, congrats on your PR! I was at the race as well doing the 5K. I haven't been to that town in quite a while, so I didn't realize there was an underpass/hill to deal with. I walked in the same spot on the return trip to the finish line!

Second, I am so sorry about your bike. That really stinks.

I hope things look up for you soon.

Hyla said...

WOW! What a day. HUGS, I am proud of you, you handle that very well.

financecupcake said...

Oh, Mary, I am so sorry to hear that happened!

Congrats on your 10k PR.

Bluezy said...

It totally sucks that your bike got stolen. I guess they have a professional cable cutting device? Yep a professional job. They probably knew that many athletic types leave their bikes at the event? I just cannot understand how nobody saw this? Of course a professional would be pretty good at it?

My binge triggers are alike to yours. You did good preventing the binge!

Angry Fat Mom said...

People can be really shitty sometimes. I'm so sorry this happened to you :(