A Small Victory - Faith No More

Yesterday could have easily been a complete psychological disaster. And so, friends, here we tell tale of the small victory. The victory in which our heroine carries on, choosing to be a woman with head held high, teetering on numb pillows for feet in the quick rush of San Franciscans getting to work. 

The past few days I've been gripped by fear and sadness. The runs have been short but pretty quick, for me, and after seven months of sticking with it, I have finally come to enjoy it a good thirty of forty percent of the time. The enjoyment, though not as frequent as the feeling of toil, far outweighs the struggle. It feels for sure like the weird neon formaldehyde cherry people speak of as the prize at the top of a sundae. I would come up with a better metaphor, but I'm still not through my coffee yet, so just go with the weird cherry as though it matters. The sadness comes in as I realized my feet are destroyed when I get anywhere over ten miles. The fifteen mile day that found it's end in a delirious stagger around Chestnut Street was certainly a face slapper. The ache was seriously beyond what felt bearable, and with 11 miles left in a run for the ribbon, I began to focus on the idea that I might not be able to complete my goal.

I imagined I would be evolved (HA) enough to just accept it and move straight to plan B. Plan B looks like this: I call up my friends and family who are so ceaselessly supportive and wonderful and I tell them I will have to walk a good portion of the route. I will be setting out Saturday morning instead of Sunday, no crowds, no medals, no number pinned to my sausage outfit. No complimentary sports drinks, no encouraging strangers holding out cups of water, no public glory for my whiny Leo ass. But like this all started, Plan B is about finishing. In whatever time it takes. Even if it's a little bit slow. And there at my self made finish line would be all my people, cheering and appreciating my effort, loving me in the San Francisco sun just as I am. 

But fuck Plan B.

I want to run the thing, maybe a little walking, but I want to do it the way it is I dream about it. I'll be wanting to quit, and I'll think, right at that moment,  there will be a bunch of writers in Mexico, working on their books like I got to, because of all us supported that, and really believed that certain stories must be told, and people deserve the right to have a means to tell them. My little number will be crinkling on my shirt, and all those people flanking the route cheering us on, then me bringing up the rear of twenty thousand, the happiest caboose of all. My mom and dad waving wildly, Ginger with the camera to catch me certainly bawling like a hyena, Schaefer and Dana with their reassuring calm, believing in me the whole time, and Coach Cadwallader and her hot lawyer wife Tara beaming at me, proud. I can't NOT be a Leo. It's my astrological fate. So be it. It comes with big hair, and I like that. 

And after this week's runs, I had to start letting go of that image and I didn't want to. I couldn't. I got attached. My feet were fucked. Even with the medicine. And when that comfort began to fade, so did my confidence. The sadness began to crawl over me like a cloak. Maybe it's hormonal, but who can tell as my hormones are the most erratic little bitches around. And even if it is, the feelings are so real, the completely real sensation that even in the sun, I began to walk through life enshrouded in a dark thing, a heavy woolen cape of pre-emptive regret. I could not stop taking my mind walking in the neighborhood of impending failure. All of my tools no match for this disappointment. Mind you, I still hadn't actually failed at anything. It felt surprising to me how much my heart had taken in this goal. I don't know why it was so surprising because clearly, I've endured and kept with it, which is frankly, not like me. I like efficient. The shortest distance between two points is a line, not a twenty six mile run through a city of hills. It is painful to be attached to things. It is the nature of suffering, so I am told. And so I have seen. 

Yesterday I went to the doctor and had my heels both injected with cortisone. Friends who have had this medicine in other parts of their bodies all, unanimously, report that it's pretty much a miracle. Which is great, because I need one of those just to complete the task at hand not even including the pain factor of feet. I believe the distance will be providing me with plenty of pain anyhow. The shots hurt, but frankly, who cares? One short long heated pain versus every morning out of the bed in the body of Bilbo Baggins, a hunched over old Hobbit searching for a wizard. There I did it. I made a fantasy book reference. WHAT?

The doctor ordered two more valuable days off from the road, and my cloak got heavier. I sat in the chair staring at my gnarly feet, knowing they would not see a pedicure for over a month. Coach said no pedis. No flip flops. No summer fling feeling. My cute feet have always been a nice feature for me. Cross that off the list for now. I pulled my shoes on over the numb ugly culprits and meandered aimlessly through the streets, staring in shop windows at clothes I either wanted but could not afford, or could afford, but didn't want. Also knowing my brain was set to sadness and self loathing and trying on clothes in that state is really an emotional set-up. 

I called Kabuki Hot Springs and what do you know? It was women's day. I've never been there. I decided to actually do a kind thing for myself, finally congratulate myself on the hundreds, literally hundreds of miles I've already run, when I never thought I could even make it to three. I began to see the sun, take a hard look at the path, hardly believing me and the sausage outfit had seen so much together. It's fine for me to accept that I'm scared and sad, but I can have other feelings too. And so I turned the beat around, deciding to walk toward a nice serene oasis in Japantown. 

I signed myself up for an Abhyanga Massage. This is a traditional Indian style massage, very relaxing. They light the room with candles and you talk to your nice massage therapist, Trish in my case, about what your dosha may be and she selects the correct oil for your treatment, You are then exfoliated with a dry brush followed by a slather in warmed scented oil for about seventy minutes. Following this, you are left to yourself for a private soak in your Japanese tub flanked by hot herbal tea, a cold cloth with cucumber slices for your eyes, and organic apple sections to eat as you soak. Candles and roses surround you as you return to the world.  

Trish comes to inform me that the power has gone out for some reason and so my time in the bath house portion of the spa won't really work. The sauna and the steam bath are cooling too  much, and there's no light to see where the hell you are walking. After all the relaxation I've already treated myself to, that's fine with me. But not with Trish. She brings me a free pass to return to the bath house any time I want. It was really the nicest, most perfect morning with myself.

This morning is my last doctor ordered day off before I return to training. Although I can return tomorrow, she did warn me that the effects of the injections may not be felt for up to a week. That's cool, man. I actually can't wait. I never thought I'd be a woman to say that. But here I am. A woman who takes herself for a massage and likes to run. My office is half packed, my life is in boxes, and my feet are unsure of what's possible. I suppose the rest of me is too. But I'm really going to try not not be so attached to the outcome of all this and stay in the moment of it. Especially when the moment can just be a choice to be nice to myself.

If y'all can find that kind of massage wherever you are, it was like, for real, the best thing ever.

Sara Elise.


  1. Keep thinking like a champ Sara, and keep your eyes off my wife.

    Coach Cadwallader

  2. Kabuki is where I discovered what real women's bodies looked like - definitely go back for the communal soaking area. Love that place.

    I've often, during training for some race, teased myself a little and said, "You know, you really can just stop. Right now. Stop." But I don't and that makes it all the more sweet.

    Hope your tootsies are feeling better. Shots in the feet SUCK!