What I’ve Learned from a Pair of Blisters

 

I feel like I’m sitting down with a crisp piece of paper, a brand new ball point pen, a mug of hot chocolate and hours on end of free time to write a long, lazy, newsy letter to an old friend that I haven’t seen in over a year.

(That’s you by the way, you’re an old friend!)

While it’s only been 46 days (but who’s counting?) since my last post, as usual, with the way that things move around here, I feel like I’m a completely different person from the last time that I wrote. The real question, is where to begin my newsy letter to my old friends.

For starters: my brother is doing phenomenally well at home! He’s started working afternoons at my dad’s office doing IT related work, he’s put on about 6 or 7 pounds (moment to hate on the guy for literally struggling to put on weight…seriously, WTF), he’s hanging out with his friends, staying out late, taking shots at the bar, and otherwise acting like a normal 21 year old. Sometimes I get this frisson of fear that runs all the way through me because I just can’t believe that it’s actually happened. Like at any moment, someone or something might swoop in and take it away from us. Did we actually live this miracle? Has it actually happened for us? And if so, the question that keeps me up at night sometimes….why? Why us? Of all of the people suffering in that hospital, why were we chosen for the miracle? I rest my mind with the thought that for now, we are all happy, healthy and looking forward to what comes next. Worrying about what could come in the future is like worrying about the weather, or what might happen on the flight that you’re on. Useless and counter productive. You may as well sit back and enjoy the ride. Or so I’ve been told.

On the fundraising side of things, I cannot tell you how fabulous things have been going!! I’ve had a flurry of support come in from my friends, family, even perfect strangers have jumped in with both feet for my cause, and I am SO grateful. We held a fundraising event last Thursday evening at a local yoga clothing store (Lolë Atelier for those who may know if it – big ups to Lolë!!). I’ve been working on it for months, all with the looming fear that 4 people would show up, and it would be a big fat flop.

My fears were put to rest within about 5 minutes of the event starting. I have the best friends and family in the entire world. End of discussion.

The store was packed, filled to the brim with all of the people that I love and cherish most in the world. To say it was a special evening just doesn’t cut it; it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. People shopped, did yoga, ate baked goods (including this demon fudge that my friend Lindsay and I were up until nearly midnight trying to get right the night before), and just celebrated my brother and everything that he’s accomplished.

We raised nearly $2,500, but that isn’t what really matters to me. I think in the world that we live in, the absolute most precious thing that a person can give to another person is their time. I know that I cherish my time more than I cherish any money. Finding an hour in the day feels like finding a $50 bill sometimes (or so it feels!!). For so many people to take the time to come out on a Thursday night just to support my family….there just aren’t any words. I’ll let the pictures below do the talking!

IMG_1419 IMG_1422 IMG_1438 IMG_1468 IMG_1475 IMG_1486 IMG_1515

The last picture is my brother and I. Can you see the stem cell resemblance?

Sorry….that one will never get old 😉 😉

On the running side of the coin, it’s been a horse of a different colour. And the colour is baby puke green. Everything was going really well with my running, I had a couple of crazy beast runs on the treadmill while I was overseas in Lebanon (yes – I went overseas to Lebanon since the last time I wrote….jeez….this post could be 15 pages long…..), and in general, I was feeling fit and ready to rock for the Chilly Half Marathon on March 2nd.

Ready to “rock”……how ironic….

On the Friday before the race, I kicked a mother-effing rock. Sorry for the swearing, but I wrote that sentence without the “mother-effing”, and it didn’t really come across with the venom that I wanted it to. So “mother-effing” stayed in.

We’ve had this big decorative rock sitting with it’s butt-end jutting out just into the path of our driveway ever since we’ve moved in. I’ve dropped my iPod on it and shattered the screen, I don’t even know how many people have tripped over it on their way up the drive…but that son of a gun messed with the wrong person this time. The exact instant that the ground thaws, that rock is going off the highest cliff I can find. Or into a rock crusher. Or maybe an incinerator or a meat grinder………..whatever would be most painful for it…..*insert evil cackle here*.

cackle

I was innocently walking up the driveway, fresh off my massage, feeling like I was ready to run the half marathon right then and there…..and BAM. Rock to the top of my bare foot (I was wearing my flat work shoes at the time). I knew I was in trouble right away, not from the big cut and blood on my foot, but from how bad it actually hurt, and the way that it puffed up right away.

Sure enough, my foot bruised up like crazy, and there was a big and quite deep gash on the top of it that bled for a good hour straight.

(Sure, when I needed to donate stem cells to save my little brother’s life, my blood thickens up like gumbo. When trying to stop the gash in my foot from getting blood on my brand new couch…….it flows like water).

I instantly freaked out because I was concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to run the race on Sunday. I got through my Attack class on Saturday, but it was painful to have the running shoe on my foot. We came to the (expert) conclusion that my foot wasn’t broken because I was able to walk around barefoot with minimal pain…..I went to bed freaking out, not sure what the heck I was going to do.

Race morning was a disaster. I was all over the place, forgetting things here, there and everywhere. My bib wasn’t on my shirt, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to wear, couldn’t find my iPod headphones, hadn’t charged my iPod up in the first place, and my foot still hurt like crazy in a running shoe. I literally made the decision as I was walking out the door that I was going to do it, and be damned if I was going to let the rock win.

At the race start, I realized that I had forgotten my running jacket at home. #EpicFail. I decided to run in just my long sleeve top and my puffy winter vest. Anyone looking at me probably thought it was my first time running in my life, but that’s cool, I deserve the judgment for my sheer stupidity.

I ran into one of my class participants and chatted with him for a few minutes. It’s always nice to have a connection back to my classes when I’m at races for some reason. It calms me down a lot to see people from the gym for some reason. Maybe because they always seem to have this absolutely unfailing faith that I can do absolutely anything. God bless their hearts…if he only knew the morning I had had!!!

We finally got off and running, literally. It was cold. Let me repeat that one more time for effect. It. Was. Cold. It was also wet. My feet were soaked within about 45 seconds, but I was pleased to note that once my feet had frozen solid, I could barely feel the top of my foot anymore.

Hurray for silver frozen linings.

At kilometer 5 my iPod died. I actually laughed out loud when that happened, because I just couldn’t imagine anything else going wrong for me that particular weekend. Little did I know.

At kilometer 8, I realized that I was developing a blister on my left foot. A big blister. I could feel the skin rubbing raw on my inside arch and I thought to myself, oh boy. Here we go. I muscled on until I hit kilometer 10, where there happened to be a Saint John’s Ambulance tent. Pushing my “Mental Matt” out of my head, I stopped and asked the kind folks for a Band-Aid.

*Insert moment of zen breathing here before you read the next sentence*

They didn’t have a Band-Aid.

Saint John’s Ambulance. At a half marathon. Seriously. WTF. In front of my very eyes, there was a defibrillator, an intubation kit, a stethoscope and a little light that you shine in people’s eyes. I could have collapsed of cardiac arrest right there on the gravel and been in perfectly capable hands. But god forbid I get a blister.

I carried on, and made the executive decision that I was going to get there no matter what. I talk in my classes a lot about not giving up when things get tough. I’ve been fortunate enough in my running and my triathlons that I have never really had to suffer too much.

Okay, okay. I suffered a lot in the Half IronMan, like a LOT. But let’s forget about that for now 😉

Anyways, I’ve been pretty lucky that I’ve never had to suffer too much. I’ve not really been tested too strenuously to put my money where my mouth is and “not give up” when things get difficult. Damned if I was going to walk off a course and land my first ever DNF because my feet hurt. As the kilometers ticked by, I realized with a  sinking heart that I had developed an equivalent blister on my right foot. I could feel the blood starting to ooze inside my shoe. At one point, I wondered if it might actually soak right through my shoe.

I should mention that while all of this was going on, I was powering through kilometers like it was my job. I felt so super strong running. I just really, really wish that I could somehow wave a magic wand and eliminate the blisters from the race, because I really wonder what I would have been able to do had I been in tip top condition.

I got to the finish line really pleased with my race, despite the nonsense with my feet, the iPod, the cold, the wet and my less than ideal running attire. When I stopped running, I knew that I had hurt myself pretty badly, but just focused on getting home to get my shoes off.

When I finally did get my shoes off at home, the entire sole of my left sock was soaked in blood, and the right one had a pretty sizable stain as well. I had taken all the skin off about 2 inches of the inside of my left arch, and shredded up the right arch pretty decently as well. I couldn’t put any weight on either foot….which made walking interesting….;)

Long story (sorry, I told you it was going to be a long, newsy, lazy letter) short, the blisters have been so extreme that I haven’t been able to wear shoes for about 6 days. I missed an entire week of my classes (horror of all horrors), and am only just now (9 days later) starting to ease back into running shoes (still with pretty significant pain).

Back to the title of this post, what I learned from a pair of blisters. I learned that I’m a lot tougher than I think I am. I learned that even when things fall apart and everything is working against you, the only person that ultimately gets the final call on whether you give up or whether you don’t, is you. Don’t blame the blisters, or the cold, or the iPod. It’s you that gets the final call. You can’t always control what happens to you. But you can control how you react to it.

On the flip side, I learned a bit about race preparation, and what it can mean for your race. My iPod should have been charged, if I wanted it. I should have been wearing blister-preventing socks (since I know that I’m prone to blisters because I over-pronate). I should have been wearing the proper race gear.

I am now three weeks out from Around the Bay. My feet are just starting to think about healing a little bit, but I am hopeful to be able to run a little bit this weekend, and to do another big run next weekend to prepare. Is it ideal? No. But I’ve learned to roll with it. I’m starting to develop a little bit of faith in myself: I’ll get it done. It feels good. I look back at the girl writing this blog at this very moment last year, and she is hardly recognizable to me.

Anyways – that’s what I’ve been up to my friends. Please, please won’t you update me on what you’ve been doing the last couple of months?! I just know that you’ve been up to amazing things, and I want to hear all about them.

Lots of love – and I promise to check in before too long!

Work hard – train hard, and never give up. Least of all on yourself.

xoxo

 

 

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