Never Give Up?

Well it’s been awhile since I’ve written a post, and not due to lack of content—I’m just trying to adjust to life with a newborn! With that said, the addition of another person in my life has clearly been a major life transition for me and it seems like I’m constantly thinking about the, “never give up motto.”  As I’ve moved through the past few months, I have started unraveling what I believe is important about pushing through even when things are hard, and also when to call it a day. I want to be upfront, I don’t have the answer to the, “Should I give up” question in this post, but for me, in my own life, I am getting closer.

From the time we are small most of us are programmed to think that giving up is a coward’s life, and with that, no matter what the cost, a person should grin it and bare it.  Truth be told, I agree with this idea to an extent. Struggling through something that is hard can bring joy, and it certainly makes a person more resilient; but I also believe that there are times in one’s life that the struggle is more harmful than beneficial—and to me, that’s when it is a good time to throw in the towel. Throughout the course of my own life there have been many times I’ve given up that I regret to this day, and on a much shorter list, there have been times that I’ve given up and I knew it was the best decision for me either physically and or mentally (Santa Barbara 100 miler circa 2015—I called it a day at mile 70).  Regardless, acknowledging the reason behind quitting has been helpful for me to move forward.

Last year, almost to the date, I ran the 161 mile Valor Run (in honor of the 161 women who had, at that time, died in combat), which was 40 miles per day for four days. Prior to the run I underwent a small series of fertility tests, the last one being two days before the run was scheduled to begin. I won’t bore you with the details, but the test was painful and caused pretty significant cramping. My doctor cleared me to run with the disclaimer, “You’re going to be significantly uncomfortable.”  I decided to do the run anyway, partly because I had already committed to it, but mostly because I didn’t want fertility stuff to take over my life. With that, the first 40 miles of the run I was okay but at the end of the first day the cramping worsened. For the subsequent three days (totaling 121 miles), I was fighting the giving up thoughts constantly. I was so uncomfortable and because of that I was not able to eat and drink what I needed to maintain my energy. The night before day four I remember being by myself for a moment and fighting back the tears. I can’t do this, I’m too uncomfortable. It’s not worth it. I allowed myself a moment or two of pity before I taped up my blisters and took out my contacts. Around 4 am (two or so hours before we were scheduled to run) I was up and scared. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was going to get through another day feeling so uncomfortable. So, like many situations in my life that I can’t manage alone, I reached out to a friend. I called Bridget about 4:30 am. Since we were running from LA to San Diego over the course of this race I knew we’d be running by Bridget’s house in Encinitas, CA. She answered the phone and I said, probably fighting back tears, “Bridget, I’m struggling.” Her response, “Where do I meet you?”

Bridget, Kody, and my buddy Mark, all helped me get to the finish line that day (among many others).  Finishing up so many miles with such an amazing team, and three other amazing women, Becca, Maggie & Michelle, was one of the proudest days of my life. I wanted to give up so many times, but I knew, giving up wouldn’t help me get better (as an athlete and as a person), it would just make it easier for me to throw in the towel the next time around.

Similarly, I’ve had many giving up thoughts since the birth of my sweet little Ox two months ago. This year I have vowed to compete in and finish the Santa Barbara 100 in July. I attempted this race two years ago and was unable to continue after mile 70. Although this is an example of a situation that I don’t regret giving up, because I know physically it was not smart for me to continue, it has nevertheless been on my mind and on my heart nearly every day since. When I was pregnant, thinking about training for this particular race, everything seemed doable. I just thought that as soon as I had Knox I would start training…and even though I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I also knew that I could do it. But truth be told it’s hard getting in the miles. Fortunately, Ox is a trooper and he always wants to go either with me hiking or hang with my gym buddies while I run, but so often I am just tired and/or completely unmotivated. But I am learning to do it anyway, or if I don’t do it, I pick myself up and do it the next day.

Whether or not a person has a child, there are always a million things and reasons that keep us from pursuing our dreams. I am trying to figure out how to keep my dreams alive even in the midst of the constant pull of so many other responsibilities. Ultimately, it is important for me in my own life to continue following my dreams, not only because that is the example I want to set for my son, but also because it makes me a better person. I never want to be someone that has to remember life twenty years ago to find adventure. I want to keep living in adventure and doing things that challenge and scare me. I also want my son growing up in a house that promotes pushing oneself even if it’s hard, or uncomfortable, and even sometimes downright painful.  But with that said, continuing to pursue my goals is challenging, and it’s even harder with a child as everything takes more time and effort. Even just thinking about doing a ten mile hike with a baby sounds exhausting, but day by day we’re doing it anyway, and day by day it’s getting easier and much more rewarding.

Never give up-it’s such an inspiring motto, and it’s said and promoted all of the time, but do I believe it? Do I think that I am capable of living a life that exemplifies it? I don’t know. I don’t even know where I’ll be in five years, and sadly whether or not I will have lived up to my commitments. But I do know that yesterday I lived up to them and today I lived up to them. And, ultimately trying to manage a marriage, career, and a newborn, right now knowing that I can do it for even one more day is all I need.

**Two weeks after I completed the Valor Run, I found out I was pregnant with my little Ox.

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