The US economy and my own seeming inability to obtain a job do not scare me nearly as much as a rampaging pit bull.
Last year I ran an 8K, a 10K, and a half-marathon, all in the space of three months. I was addicted to the high and the pride of running: finally, it felt like I was accomplishing something. I’d completed a Master’s Degree and the equivalent of three Bachelor degrees and had never felt so proud or alive as when I finished those races. But that was Michigan and what seems like a lifetime ago (in reality, not quite 8 months).
After moving to Texas in January, I was worried about how to continue my training. There would be job applications to write, a house to keep clean, meals to make, grocery shopping to do, my coach was back in the mitten state, and there were a hundred other errands I would spontaneously have to do. The state budget in education, however, meant that the job applications were few, the opportunities to sit at home many. I finished everything I needed to do each day and had several hours each day without purpose. Still, though, I kept convincing myself that I was simply not able to run anymore. Call it “denial of the once-busy.”
Excuses poured out of me. ”It’s not safe outside”–the neighborhood we lived in had a good bit of crime and I would have to run by myself in the wee hours of the morning in order to beat the intense heat and humidity of San Antonio. ”I am worried about injury since I haven’t done this for so long”–true, I had no health insurance, but it wasn’t the first time. ”The only other option is to run on a treadmill in the apartment gym”–it’s just not the same and it wouldn’t adequately prepare me for running any races here in Texas. So I sat.
Until it dawned on me, when I could find no other jobs to apply for, when I could cook no more foods in advance, when all grocery shopping and cleaning was finished, I wasn’t proud of anything I was getting done, not like I had been proud of running. There was no self-confidence left, after being beat to hell by HR departments that had really already filled most of the positions they were required to post. I had no pride in day to day tasks because they just needed to be done. Running has always been something I chose to do; something I did for myself. I took a deep breath and headed out to run on San Antonio sidewalks at 4 and 5 a.m. and I felt as though I was doing something meaningful. Did it put food on the table? No. Did it bring in meager amounts of cash and vast amounts of anxiety? No. Did it give me a sense of peace, hope, and accomplishment when absolutely nothing else did? You bet your ass it did.