About three years ago almost exactly, we moved in with Steve’s parents for a month or two while we were trying to decide if we should buy a place. (Short story: we did, whether or not we should have.) I was also in the process of starting a new job at Patch and training for my triathlon first pro season, so things were a little nuts.
I had hurt my ankle and couldn’t run and, without a coach at the time, I was alternating drastically between blowing off workouts and stressing about blowing off workouts. Since I couldn’t run, I headed out for a bike ride one afternoon and the light drizzle turned into heavy rain pretty quickly. But, I was stressed about blowing off another workout and worried I needed to get my training in, so I refused to turn back or change my planned route — even though my planned route was a very poor choice in the pouring rain (lots of twisting descents) and I was unprepared in terms of gloves or appropriate clothing. An hour into the three-hour ride, I was hyopthermic and shaking, but didn’t turn back. By the time I got home, I couldn’t see straight and careened through an intersection unable to grab my brakes. I avoided get hit by a car, barely, but the whole thing was a nasty mess.
The next day, I had to drive myself to the ER after I slammed a weight-lifting bar into my mouth and bit through my lip.
A few days later, I finally got an appointment with a sports doctor in the East Bay, who diagnosed me with a stress fracture and stuck a walking boot cast on me. On the drive back to work, our car — which lasted another seven or eight months after this — started smoking, with great giant billows pouring out of the vents and into my face. There, on the side of the highway, I pulled over and started hobbled around the car in my boot.
Here’s the thing. I dealt with all of this. Just fine. No problem. I didn’t turn back or waste time being upset.
It was later that weekend, though, when I lost it. I needed to be at a high school track meet at a certain time and was supposed to go out with friends beforehand — supposed to have some fun, just a little — but plans got screwed up and our car was still in the shop to resolve the smoking issue, leaving me stranded with my boot. So, when friends bailed, I just started crying. I had taken as much as I could and no more.
I’m telling this story to illustrate a point: We go on, insisting on perseverance, until it’s just not possible anymore. At some point, it becomes stupid to continue on, blindly optimistic; that’s when you end up with hypothermia. This is not unique to me. It’s why the phrase ‘the straw that broke that camel’s back’ exists, because it’s not all the other burdens the camels carries that does it in, it’s that one last straw.
Lately, I can feel the straws building up. I know that things have been crazy. Floyd died; work is causing all kinds of rejection and money related worries; my foot joint is inflamed; I was in LA; I’m in Phoenix now; and then Friday I got sick. I’m not going to tell you I’ve been dealing with all that super well — Coach Mario could surely whip out a number of over-dramatic emails to dispel that notion — but I’ve been dealing.
Logically, I am aware that I have it great, that things are great, that in the grand scheme of things there are lots and lots of people all over who deal with way worse than anything I’ve ever had problems with. I know this. Even on a smaller scale, I also know that I will be ok, that I will run Boston and I will (hopefully) fix all my money and work problems. I will stop being sick. Things will go on. But, man, what I don’t know is what that last straw might be — I’m just pretty sure it’s coming.