I went to the Harry Jerome Track Classic with my dad on Sunday, just like we do every year. The sun was out, the temperature was warm, and the sky was true blue. The wind took a leave of absence on the day, making for perfect T&F conditions. The athletes were incredible. The competitions were exciting and down-to-the-wire. I couldn't stand it.
Somewhere along the line, probably between the men's and women's Olympic development 800 metres, I went from loving everything about Sunday to intense, intense depression. Because, as much as I've tried to convince myself otherwise, that it wasn't in the plan for me, a part of my subconscience still holds onto the shred of belief that I belonged out there on the track, competing against the top runners in Canada and always moving closer to the goal of one day representing our country in a major competition.
Coming out of high school, I always thought that track would come with me. Growing up in the athletic shadow of my brother, track was where I truly found myself - found where I belonged. There were bumps along the way, of course - turning from a sprinter to a middie when my newly adolescent body refused to grow muscle like the rest of the white boys being a BIG one - but in my mind, I never really had any doubt about my abilities. Dominant races were expected; I looked down on most of my opponents with disdain. Even after a disappointing senior year in which a registration error kept me from competing in the BCs, I knew what I could do.
Of course, then I turned down university scholarship offers to go study journalism at Carleton, a great basketball school that doesn't seem to realize that the budget for a varsity track team is less than the cost of a new backboard. No matter... Ottawa U had a renowned team with which I could train, and the Ottawa Lions are the finest community track program in the country.
And then life started.
After injuring my knee last January, it's been a long road back. In fact, it's a road that I'm still on. The problem is that I've stopped moving towards a goal because in all honesty, I can't see one anymore. It started out with an IT band strain; painful, but common for avid runners. Then came the freak ankle fracture on the opposite leg that forced my right leg back to full action before it was ready. One harmless looking fall later, and the pain was back, throwing off my summer training plans.
The January 2009 MRI confirmed the lateral meniscus tear that doctors had said I probably didn't have, and debunked the general idea that all I had was a persistent case of PFS. Turns out my patella was just fine... the meniscus, not so much.
General opinion: "Wear your brace, do what's comfortable. If it hurts, stop."
What's comfortable? Everything: basketball, snowboarding, swimming, walking, driving, breathing, eating. What hurts? Running.
I'm not really sure what's next, to be honest. Surgery is an option for me come September when I return to school, but at this point, I'm not sure whether it's worth it. The recovery is three weeks, then a month rehab, and then what? I'll be the first to admit that I'm no longer the fitness machine that I was in high school. Reaching race shape will take me six months minimum... and then what? I have no guaranatees from the Ottawa U coach. I have no guarantees that my knee, post-surgery, will hold up to rigorous training. I have no guarantees that my body even remembers what it feels like to run.
For a long time this past year, I've been content. Knowing that God holds me in His hand was all I needed to get through the rough times when I couldn't believe what life had become.
Now, I'm questioning again. Talking to my friend Priscilla - who's training with Cheetahs and competes for McGill, in the Ontario East/Quebec division - hurts. Seeing track commercials on TSN hurts. Waking up to my bulletin board of race numbers and newspaper headlines hurts. Seeing my track spikes sitting atop my bookshelf hurts. The knee, when I test it out, hurts.
"I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure." - Eric Liddell
Right now, life hurts.