Hindsight

They say hindsight is 20/20 - that when you look back at decisions you struggled with, the answer is perfectly clear what you should have done. That's true - to a point. It's really easy to say "oh, I should have done this instead of that." But that doesn't take into account the changes to how a different path then would have affected the present. Back in April, I wrote about identity and how I'd be willing to give up running distance if it meant I could still ride my bike. I was willing to change my identity as a runner permently if needed as long as I could completely reform myself into a rider. But it didn't take long to realize that even that wouldn't be enough if I wanted to let my eye recover without drugs. One ride off the drugs and I was losing my vision again. So back on the atropine drops - and I've stayed on the drops since then. One drop a day, new sunglasses and I've been able to basically resume all my normal activities.

It's easy to look back at the three races I pulled out of in March and April because the eye docs were hoping no running was the answer and say that it was a mistake. I should have run anyway given that I'm needed medication to manage my eye. Running the races shouldn't have changed anything. The eye doctors and I were all being overly cautious. Here's the thing - we didn't know that at time. There's so many factors at play with eyes and especially my eyes that being overly cautious isn't a bad idea. We also don't realize how important vision is until it's gone, and that's the scary part. I could have gone down to Salida for the Run Through Time half marathon - a race I've been wanting to do for years. I was trained and ready for the race and looking forward to a fun weekend with friends. There's a huge chance that nothing would have happened. But so many things might have gone wrong. I might triggered more bleeding and have elevated the pressure in my eye enough to cause permanent damage. Since the lense chafing against the iris was causing the bleeding in the first place (we think) there's a high likelyhood that might have happened. Or because I really couldn't see well out of my left eye, I could have tripped over something and severerly injured myself - taking me out of the rest of the events I have planned for year. Hindsight isn't 20/20 when there's so many different paths that could have happened.

And then the Rattler Trail Race in Palmer Park - again, one of my favorite places to run and a great event. By the time that race came along, it was pretty clear I needed to be on the drops. It wasn't clear if running would really affect things yet since I hadn't run much more then 2-3 miles at time over the weeks before the race. Not the way to prepare for a 25k race at all! Pulling out of that race had very little to do with medical concerns anymore - it was all about being intelligent. There's a huge difference between 25k and 5k and trying to fake a 25k after three weeks on either no running or minimal running just screams stupid. I thought about dropping to the 10k, but it was easier to drop completely from the race and not have the pressure of trying to run fast when I hadn't been running looming over me. I just wanted to get running comfortably again before doing any races. As for the final race I pulled out of? Well, I might have bailed on that one regardless - and anyone who showed up in the blizzard conditions the Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race had is a braver runner then me!

It's not all about the negatives though. The forced hold on my running provided me with several new opportunities. One - it made me rebuild my running from nothing basically. Just like with any injury, I came back slowly from the three weeks off. Shorter runs and more frequent runs each week. And because those runs were shorter, when I was ready and feeling like I could run hard again it provided me with the chance to rebuild my speed. While I know I may never get back down to the times I was running 10 years ago, it will be close. And the process will be just as much work - just different types of work - as getting ready for the 50 miler last year. I can honestly say that two years ago, I wouldn't be thinking about trying for a sub 13:00 time at the two mile Neilson Challenge. And I wouldn't have signed up for the Women's Distance Festival 5k. At least for this year, those 5ks and 10ks I used to scoff at because they were so short are sounding really appealing. Short is fast and fast is hard. I'm learning to embrace that a little more this year for sure.

And two - This year is all about the bike. I knew it would be when I was setting up my schedule, but was still allowing myself to be distracted by the running races. Part of that was the Meowler - when I was still planning on race that fun duathlon, I needed to have strong running legs as well as cycling legs. But that race got canceled - and the running events I'd scheduled as long runs and hard workouts were no longer needed. I could focus just on the bike and not be pulled in so many different directions. So far, that seems to be working. Sure, I had to cram my training into a short time for the Growler, but I had one of the strongest races I've had at that event. Maybe not the fastest, but strong when I needed to be. I also know that come August and September, I'll be happy I spent as much time on my bike as I did. Without the distractions of long runs and such...

It's the choices that you make and the ones that you don't that determine you are. What you are and what you'll be...



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