September 2018 was a big shift for me. And it took me a while to look back and understand what really happened. And to be hones, I’m not sure I still know 100% what took place. But let’s start a little further back.
In April of 2014 I made a lot of changes. I quit smoking, lost some weight, took up running and was taking control of some things in my life that I felt I needed to be controlled. I was in a good place. I was running 4 or 5 times a week. I had goals and was always working towards those goals. Over the next several years I was running races, taking on new challenges, setting new personal bests and was healthier than I had been in years.
I even took on some new challenges. I started Rucking and did a GoRuck Challenge, I was taking on more responsibility at work while striving to get promoted, and was looking towards some fitness goals that were much more challenging.
But all the while I was working through some of my own demons. I always had issues with anxiety, but when I was smoking I didn’t realize that I used smoking as a way to manage my anxiety. If I felt anxious I would smoke a cigarette and it would calm me down. But after I quit smoking I realized how much I used smoking as a crutch to deal with my anxiety. So I had to find new ways of working and dealing with my anxiety. Unfortunately, I used food to make myself feel better and didn’t even realize it. But a bit more on this later. Even though I was using food as a way to deal with my anxiety, I was still dealing with it, and I wasn’t smoking. So I didn’t really worry about it.
Then fast forward to 2018 and our family was dealt some tough news. My father had cancer. While this was tough, my father was strong willed and determined to beat it. So everyone around him carried that same mentality. And I used these circumstances as an opportunity to raise money for the Cancer Research Institute of New York and strive to take on my largest fitness challenge yet. A 50k.
So I had picked a foundation in CRI to raise money for and I picked a race. The Jim Thorpe Boulder Field 100k and 50k. I had decent training leading up to the race but also learned a lot in the process and especially on race day. But little did I know that this race would be a major turning point for me.
First, I realized that I have a bit of a control issue. I realized I couldn’t do anything to fix my father’s cancer. So in my head, raising money for someone that was out there trying to come up with a cure was my way of helping the situation. Now I understand we all have a control issue to an extent. But control really is an illusion and this was my way of feeling like I had a little bit of control in the situation.
Second, I didn’t know this race was going to break me. Both physically and mentally. We will start with physically first. So I trained on a lot of trails leading up to this race. But I live in south Jersey and our trails are packed down pretty trails. This race was all rocky and technical trails that my ankles were not prepared for. But other than that I felt pretty good. Until I rolled my ankle about 12 miles in. I managed to go about 4 more miles until the next aid station. At that point I realized that my ankle wasn’t going to make it another 16 miles and I needed to drop and get a DNF for this race.
Now mentally this messed with me. I had raised close to $2k to donate to CRI and my motivation for this race was for my father who was fighting cancer. And I felt guilty. I felt like I was letting my father down and I felt like I was letting everyone down that donated towards this cause. And I had no idea how long I would carry this guilt. But I carried it a lot longer than I realized.
This day and this race became a turning point for me. I allowed this failure to pretty much derail most of what I had worked towards over the previous 4 years. I pretty much stopped running and didn’t even realize that it had happened. I really just rucked. Running became non existent. And my relationship with food got worse. Now let’s be clear, I never had a great relationship with food. I used it to make me feel better when I was upset, I used it when I felt anxious, and I even used food to celebrate when I was happy. My relationship with food had become a pretty serious issue.
So now I had health issues coming back, I was gaining weight, and I wasn’t doing something that I truly enjoyed doing. Running. Well this brings me to today.
By no means have I resolved all of my issues or even repaired them. But, I am aware and that has allowed me to start running again. To start making goals and plans again. It sucks because I feel like I am starting over. But I am trying to take control again, in a healthy way. And I understand now that I can’t fix my anxiety. I can’t fix my relationship with food. And I can’t fix my problem with guilt. But I can be aware of these issues. And I can always be working on them. And I now know that I can’t let my guard down, because I did and completely derailed me.
So here is to new beginnings and reflecting so we don’t make the same mistakes we made in the past. This blog is allowing me to hold myself accountable so I don’t make these same mistakes again.