It May Hurt a Little

I'm the one in the center front, wearing the fluorescent green shirt
and blue hat, focusing on not feeling the pain.

April 17, 2016

My husband is a runner. Not the few-miles-on-the-weekend runner. No, he's a serious runner. In fact, he's on his way to a big race right now. He'll be running in his first Boston Marathon tomorrow, despite a nuisance injury that brought his training to a screeching halt last month.  He's going to run Boston anyway, knowing he probably won't run his best time, and, frankly, knowing he'll be running through pain for 26.2 miles.

"It'll hurt a little, yeah, but it'll be worth it," he shrugs with a grin as he loads up his car this morning. He's heading north to do something he's dreamed of since he was in high school.  Finally, he'll get to experience the Boston Marathon.

I wasn't thrilled about his decision to go at first. I urged him to consult a doctor who then sent him to a physical therapist. He was told his condition wasn't serious, just uncomfortable and could be corrected with lots of strength training and stretching. He was given the "go ahead" so I stopped my objections. Plus, I knew he couldn't be talked out of it, anyway. For him, quitting isn't an option. Lance Armstrong said, "Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever." That is how my husband lives every day.

It is one of the many things I love about him. And it's one of the many ways I aspire to be more like him.

My husband who never quits, even if it means running 26.2 miles in pain.

As a kid, I was a competitive swimmer. But finding pool time as a working adult wasn't easy, so in my thirties, I tried to teach myself to run. It started out as mostly walking with a little running, but eventually, I was running the whole way. I even ran some 5K races and discovered that I almost liked it...or, more honestly, I didn't completely hate it.

For my fortieth birthday, I trained for a short distance triathlon. I survived it and found that I was almost enjoying myself. Almost. Then this past fall, for my forty-fifth birthday, I trained and finished a half marathon. And now, I'm training for another one.

Running for me isn't bliss. It isn't escape. It isn't exhilarating. Despite my husband's ever-so-patient encouragement over the years and promises of the possibility of a "runner's high," I still don't like running. I only do it because it feels good AFTER I'm finished. It's complete drudgery while I'm actually doing it.

But I must admit, that for my mental health, running is good for me. I suffer from bipolar II, which is primarily depression, but includes sporadic episodes of hypomania, as well. When I'm feeling especially blue, running is not something I feel like doing. I'd rather crawl into bed under the covers, turn down the lights, and settle into the darkness until it passes over me. I'd rather quit.

"Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever."

Depression pain doesn't feel temporary. If I feel myself slipping into the dark, the weight crushing me down and pulling me away from everyone and everything that matters, the last thing I want to do is go for a run. But I try to remember that running may hurt a little, but it'll be worth it.  I'll feel better if I can just get through it.

"Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever."

My husband knows that his 26.2 mile race tomorrow will likely hurt a little, but he isn't going to quit. I want to be more like him. A man who isn't afraid of a little pain. A man who is determined to finish what he starts. A man who sees pain as something to get through not to fear.

I may not love running. I may not even like it most days...but I'm not going to quit it.

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