My lungs are stronger now than they've been in a long time, but this is getting tough. Really tough.
One mile? Am I really tapping out at one mile? There's a little more than three months until my first scheduled 5K. I'm not progressing the way other people do who train for these...it's taking me three times as long as they recommend.
The other day I began to beat myself up mentally--angry and frustrated at my own limitations. And then I paused...
I take my mind back to early April...Then an active lifestyle had been so far from my line of vision. It was so far down on my priority list that my five year old sneakers looked as new as if they were out of the box. Shameful. I would gasp for air even attempting to run a couple hundred yards. That struggle is still fresh in my mind, yet there is so much mental distance from then and now.
Instead of bemoaning this stalled mile mark as a defeat-- I choose to see it as a victory.
So what if it took me this long to get here and so what if it takes me much harder work ahead of me to get to the next mile?
I'm a better version of me than I was 100 days ago and many thousand ambitious and quick steps ago. That's what counts.
We're all running our own race. That's a mantra that comes to mind from a friend's recent advice. In other words: I can't measure myself stride for stride with others who attempt the same thing. They may not have come through the same hoops. If it hurts, I slow down. I listen to what my body is saying that day. There are days when I can feel a gentle breeze lift me and it seems to whisper to push harder---and on those days I listen too.
Today my reality check came with a check-up.
Heading to my three month oncology appointment I walked through the sunlit hallway at Wilmot. I spotted a young woman with a colorful scarf wrapped elegantly around her head heading toward me. She was laboriously rolling an oxygen tank with a LiveSTRONG sticker emblazoned on it like a team jersey. She too is running her own race.
We exchanged smiles hello and when she walked past I realized that I had slowed my own gait and cut back the bounce in my step. It was guilt, the heavy pang, one that I feel as a now healthy young woman returning to the cancer center, a place where I cross paths with others still fighting to get where I am now.
So many people I know are currently running against this most cunning opponent in a most arduous race. It makes a 5K look like a piece of cake. It makes a marathon or any other imaginable athletic feat pale in comparison. Truly, it does. I don't say that from a place of disconnected analogy---I've been there and this will never be as hard as that time was. I have incredible gratitude that I can be here to bemoan what I can't yet reach.
When I see those wheelchairs being pushed or the weary looks on the passing faces my brain shifts almost instantaneously to just a couple short years ago. I see the me of the past where they stand or sit--the faint shadow of who I am now (back in vivid color and fully in focus). I am grateful that I am here...but silently wishing for them to get to "here" too.
We can't run the same race at the same time. This is the mystery and unique pattern of human lives. Some playing fields can't be leveled. Perhaps they see me and want to trade places, but could I have even imagined back then that I would be here? Surely not.
I am reminded that there is no place without challenge if you are always in pursuit of something else. Something higher...something deeper.
And so I'll just keep pushing on...