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.
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.