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  • Writer's pictureMia Rose

Thoughts From the Road

I did it. Yesterday, I finished 13.1 grueling miles that have left my body honestly cussing me out a bit at the moment! I'm having to climb two flights of stairs about every 30 minutes today at work and IT'S KILLING ME! ugh! In a nutshell, I ran a race that my body wasn't prepared to run for reasons completely out of my control...but I went for it anyway. I'm tired of my "situation" dictating what I can and cannot do. Ok, I guess honestly I've never really let my cancer diagnosis actually do this because I'm stubborn and headstrong as hell, but I am tired of each day consciously having to remind myself that I'm not going to let it dictate what I can and cannot do. Does that make sense? Over and over I have to fight through challenges that are just hard. Physically, mentally and spiritually. I know this fight is only making me stronger, better and just wiser, but man is it exhausting sometimes! Case in point yesterday at mile 7,...9 (that was a burner),.... 11 and even 12! . I had actual tears of frustration at mile 9, which according to my running partner, were completely justified. It wasn't the pain in my legs that had me choked up, but rather the sense of sadness and failure I was feeling. I was running my 7th half marathon and I felt like a failure. Does this even seem logical? BC (before cancer), I was logging so many miles, running pretty fast and in such great shape. Today I'm lucky if I can run even a fraction of the miles I was accustomed to running without experiencing even more setbacks from where my body is still healing. And it's so slow....slow for me anyway. Yes, I realize that my body is still bouncing back from chemo, surgery, sepsis, meds, you name it. But, I am such a goal oriented person and I have very high expectations for myself, so not being remotely where I want to be has me feeling sad, angry, frustrated and a little hopeless. But then, at mile 9, I began to think about what my body has endured. Countless tests, scans, surgeries, meds, burns, side effects, loss of function, infection, reduced mobility, physical therapy, the aches, the pains and all the while constantly pushing through each day to work, run, parent and be ok so that everyone just sees the strength on the outside, not everything that is really happening behind the curtain. THAT is an accomplishment...and then the tears just kept a comin'! I realize this all seems like I was having a little pity party, but I'm pissed that I got derailed in life and ultimately derailed in my goals. I"m mourning everything I've lost in the last year. I've lost relationships, confidence, hair, strength, a sense of feeling even the slightest bit invincible and worse yet, I lost that girl. That girl that ran fast and didn't feel like she had the weight of the entire world on her shoulders. She is gone. (Yep, cue the tears...mile 11 here). By Mile 12, I wanted to give up. Who the hell gives up at mile 12?!!? But then, my playlist had a little gift for me. The song "Bird Set Free" by Sia came on. This is the part that I heard;

But there's a scream inside that we all try to hide We hold on so tight, we cannot deny Eats us alive, oh it eats us alive Yes, there's a scream inside that we all try to hide We hold on so tight, but I don't wanna die, no I don't wanna die, I don't wanna die

And I don't care if I sing off key I find myself in my melodies I sing for love, I sing for me I shout it out like a bird set free No I don't care if I sing off key I find myself in my melodies I sing for love, I sing for me I'll shout it out like a bird set free

Now I fly, hit the high notes I have a voice, have a voice, hear me roar tonight You held me down But I fought back loud

I am fighting back...hard. Even with everything I've lost, I truly am focusing on, for the most part, the person I am becoming. I am proud that I showed up for this race. I am proud that I showed up for all of the challenges that I've I've REALLY shown up! Not just by physically being there, but by working through the ups and downs and devoting myself to learning and growing from all of this. I'm proud that when my running partner said "do you want to stop and walk this hill", I said "nope" more times than not. I am proud that my doctors didn't really think this running thing would work out too well at this point of my recovery and yet I still did it/am doing it. I"m proud that my kids have witnessed me scared, struggling and still coming home with that damn medal!! In their eyes (and words)," Mommy won the race". Not even close, but in some ways I guess that fact that I'm still here means that I am winning. I am proud that my body was literally at the brink of death and somehow came back to life. I'm proud that with every shitty side effect, or med or anything that I had no choice but to just deal with, I found a way, my way. My way to make me feel good about it, or at least at peace with it. A way to feel beautiful even if I didn't feel like it on the inside. That is strength. I am tested over and over and yet this new me has been humbled, has more grace and is appreciative for just being alive.. I am proud that I still have dreams and goals. I desire authentic relationships and experiences that despite how crazy or extreme they might seem to others, I just see them as completely necessary and utterly doable. That is also strength. Maybe I lost that girl I was. Maybe she is gone. But this warrior, this woman that I am now? She is a force to be reckoned with. She has truly danced with fear and death and will continue to fight on no matter what comes her way. All of this is what explains the tears at the finish line. The first race I've ever shown so much emotion at the end (to date). Like Sia, "I don't wanna die".....I want to live! I'm challenging myself to put what is gone behind me, and focus on building myself back up. One footstep at a time. I am not a failure, not even close. Healing comes from our vulnerability and talking about hard things. Don't hide your struggle. They say running a half marathon is more than just running. Well, Amen to that! It really isn't just about the miles or the time, it's about doing something that will change you forever. Even though this one was a bit of a roller coaster, I consider myself changed...definitely for the better. -M

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