Monday, March 04, 2013

Gotta Get My Head Right

Photo: life is good (pete), Flickr Creative Commons

I feel a little uncomfortable being a Chicago Blackhawks fan this season. See, I've always been a fan of Atlanta sports teams, which means in my entire life I've never once experienced what it was like to cheer for a dominant team, especially since I've only vaguely followed baseball. I only got a faint glow from the Braves' years of dominance. And to be honest, I'm not actually sure I was aware the Falcons played in the Super Bowl at the time. It was my freshman year of college and newly in love and wouldn't begin my obsessive sports watching for another four years. Even if I was aware, that game was such a disaster that  it throws the entire season back into the pit of mediocrity from whence it emerged.

You'd think that the last few years as a Falcons fan would have prepared me for the Blackhawks' success this season. After all, the Falcons, while they haven't won the championship, have consistently been one of the best teams in the league ever since they drafted Matt Ryan five seasons ago. Despite that, you at least have to assume with the Falcons that no matter how good they are in the regular season that they're going to fail at some point in the playoffs. The Blackhawks have proven in their recent history that they can win a championship. I'm not used to that.

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I had an MRI on my knee on Sunday. It was in the back of a tractor-trailer. I live so far from civilization that our hospital is actually served once a month by a travelling medical imaging company that parks a trailer in front of the hospital to offer MRIs and CAT scans to the locals. I finally caved in and saw a doctor about the knee injury that has kept me from running for two months after I first hurt it. Part of my reason was because I needed to get a doctor's note to get my money back from the marathon I had signed up for right around the time I got the injury. The other part is that it's starting to worry me that I still can't run despite having taken two months off. I've never needed more than two weeks to get over various minor injuries in the past. Despite the fact that I'm pretty sure it's just a bad case of ilio-tibial band syndrome, the doctor wanted me to first get an X-ray to rule out a stress fracture and now an MRI to see what soft tissue is being affected. I never mentioned ITBS to him to avoid biasing his examination and he never mentioned it to me during the exam. He mentioned stress fractures and a torn meniscus, but not ITBS. I really don't care what it is as long as it can be fixed. Not being able to run is surprisingly stressful. I'm constantly thinking about it, and it's keeping my time on the bike from being very satisfying. I'm so busy trying to beat back thoughts about never being able to run again that I forget to enjoy my time on the bike.

I think the stress is bad enough that I've slipped into stress eating. Either that or the appetite I developed during marathon training (when I needed the extra calories) forgot to reduce when my exercise level reduced. I'm riding my bike four at least four days a week the last month, getting up at 5 am most mornings to ride, and still I've managed to pack on 10 pounds since the trail run where I hurt myself. This is frustrating.

It's gotten bad enough that this morning I actually got out of bed at 5 a.m. to get on the bike, grabbed my socks and went into the living room to get the bike set up. Once there, I just said "screw it" and went back to bed. That's never happened before. I've fallen back to sleep before getting out of bed and missing a workout, but I've never gone back to bed after getting myself out. I've never felt quite as disgusted with myself after missing a workout.

Honestly, these last two months have felt a bit like a return to the time before I started running. I feel fat. My pants and shirts feel a little tight around the middle (although they are a smaller size than they were 4 years ago). I have the first class that I dread teaching since four years ago, and I'm not running. It's like I've been this year's Chicago Blackhawks for the last three years and as soon a something went wrong I reverted back to being a sports team from Atlanta. I may have churned out 207 miles on the bike last month, but in the end I know I'll blow it just like it feels inevitable that an Atlanta team will lose in the postseason. I need to stop it. I need to prepare myself for what I need to do if I can't run again, because that's possible. I'm still working under the reasonable assumption that I'll be fine before long and will be running again, but the good news is that even if I'm not running, I can still bike and there's no reason to think that I won't be able to swim. I may have to stop triathlons, but there's still aquathlons. There's that competitive jiu jitsu school in town that's a part of a respectable school of the sport. My son wants to take lessons. Maybe I could get into that. After all, competing has been the key to keeping myself in shape the whole time. I'm going to need something like that to focus my efforts.

The point is that no matter how much I joke about having to find a new hockey team this year because I'm uncomfortable cheering for a winning team, I really like being a fan of the Blackhawks. They make it easy. I need to get back to make it easy to be a fan of myself. This post is just to remind me of that. It'll come back to me.


Sid said...

"Not being able to run is surprisingly stressful. I'm constantly thinking about it." It's a horrible feeling, isn't it?

Hope your knee sorts itself out soon, and that you won't need surgery.

Julie said...

In working with sales professionals, I have learned that I rarely have to push the truly good ones. They push themselves the hardest and beat themselves up when they feel they haven't done their best. One of the reasons we have spouses is so we can have a cheerleader. Listen to K when she tells you how awesome you are.