A couple of days ago I missed a race. It’s the unfortunate reality of being a racer. I had been really looking forward to it but when the time came, it just wasn’t an option.
There are so many things I love about racing. The route is preplanned; I don’t have to worry about bringing water or bear spray; medical services are available; there are bananas, energy gels, etc. So much easier than running on my own. For the $15 that local races usually cost, seriously worth it.
Sometimes though, life gets in the way. We can’t control every aspect of our worlds, no matter how much we (certainly I can guarantee me) may try. Even the things that we would usually be able to push through are suddenly just a little more than we can bear. I’ve raced on days that I’ve had seizures in the past. I’ve traveled on those kinds of days. Those are significant challenges, so why shouldn’t I be able to do it every time!?!
The thing to remember though here is that it is okay to miss races. There will always be more races.
Here are other “r” words that can be focused on in these circumstances:
It is so easy to let that drive to succeed, to expand, to power on, lead us to the point of exhaustion. That drive sounds like it’s a good thing, right? Something to take pride in. The problem is, when a circumstance comes along that takes emotional and/or physical strain that is literally or metaphorically traumatic, there may be nothing left in us to get through it.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Pushing through trauma is not necessarily a sign of strength; it may just be ignoring what your body needs. As a runner, as an epileptic, as a human being. Part of our ability is the skill set is being able to identify and acknowledge what is happening and what needs to be done to fix it. Blindly pushing forward will result in injuries and result in more missed races. So missing races (while personally disappointing) may be for the best.
To quote Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings films “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread”.
The last aspect of missed races: the medical aspect. Whatever the medical condition is (including epilepsy), that may be antagonized by pressure. The drive to be everything to everyone may not be a benefit. It may be a personal pressure. It may be an external pressure. We may be able to handle every situation that comes our way MOST OF THE TIME. Then suddenly something comes along that is just slightly more than usual. Then suddenly we are thin. Then suddenly we are stretched. Then suddenly we are butter scraped over too much bread. Then suddenly we are trying to pour from an empty cup. Seizures may become more than we can endure. Running and races may become more than we can manage. Returning a personal phone call is just too much. In the case of epilepsy (at least for me), more seizures might happen. That’s a combination of the personal pressure and seizures. It’s a cycle. I’ve probably experienced this cycle before but ignored it.
So on Saturday I missed a race. On Sunday I got to walk along the ocean in Victoria. I got to put my hands in the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes one missed opportunity is simply making room for another opportunity. All of those “r” words above are now something I can work on. I’m somewhere safe, with my family, so if seizures happen, I’m not alone. I love the ocean. And I can refill my cup while I am here. I will refill it with ocean water from the Pacific Ocean. Then when the next races come along, I will be ready to take on those challenges: and any other challenges that come my way.