Tag Archives: failure

Mine to Mine Failure

I never thought my child misbehaving in school and lying to me about it would hurt so bad. I never thought it would send me into a crippling depression. I always knew these things would eventually happen; I just did not expect it to happen so soon or for it to affect me so profoundly.

Yesterday, my daughter got into a lot of trouble at preschool and broke my heart by lying to me about it. Then today, I blew the one race all year that I care about and train for specifically. I felt like a failure as a mother, so it was all too easy to accept being a failure as a runner as well.

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The Mine to Mine Challenge in Cripple Creek is my coveted race. I successful ran the distance two years ago, after I returned to living in Colorado. Hills are my nemesis, and high altitude only amplifies everything. Even after running two half marathons and a long variety of other races, I consider this one to be my most difficult. Completing it the first time was one of my favorite running accomplishments, one of the highest highs.

While I ran the first time alone (with a supportive driver), this time, I was joined by a contingent of Zombie Turtles. We gathered in the unseasonable sun outside the Heritage Center, waiting for the race to start.

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At the start, we took off down the introductory hill. Just like last time, I gasped for air at the thin mountain altitude of over 9,000 feet (3,000 higher than home). Even running downhill, I was winded. And, just like last time, it caused me to worry for the duration of the race, particularly the relentless hills I knew were coming this time. Yet I just told myself to commit to the breathing, pace down, and take it one stride at a time.

Once the hill spilled down into Cripple Creek and the route began yielding flats and inclines, the heat became painfully more apparent. A fall day in the mountains felt decidedly like the stifling summer that was supposedly behind us. The sun felt low, huge, oppressive, and the sky was wide and vividly clear. While this resulted in gorgeous scenery, my still-weighted body began to roast from the inside, the heat blooming in my core and roaring up into my face like a radiator.

Then the hill started. At this point, the 10 am sun stared me straight in the face as the hill climbed to the east. I could not deny the heat as the sweat poured down my face and into my eyes. I felt nothing but hot. My breathing struggled only against the cooking I suffered. My muscles were exerted but still functional. But that heat.

I pressed, panting and sweating, in deliberate strides. Trisha lingered at my side, sometimes dropping just in front of me, sometimes creeping just ahead of me. Phil blazed ahead; then we steadily crept back up to him. The Zombie Turtles moved around each other as we sluggishly climbed the hill.

After about a kilometer or so of the steady incline and the raging heat, a single tree emerged, casting shade across the asphalt. I ran into the shade, but I did not run out of the other side. Instead, I lingered in the shadow of that tree, basking in the cool.

In that instant, it was over. My goal of running the distance, the object of all my training and killing myself slipped away unconsummated. With the failure achieved and with the dream dead, I embraced the walk break. I resigned myself to it. It was too hot; the nausea was already bubbling up to my teeth. With failure already in my heart, I could not berate myself into stubbornness, into powering through; I could only feel sad.

Usually, when met with a running failure (like the zoo run), I react by becoming devastated and livid, equal measures. This time, I felt the amplification of my existing sadness; then I just went with it. I decided to walk the next kilometer then start running again. I watched Phil and Trisha wog away ahead of me.

Then Trisha waited for me. She joined me on my walk. She allowed me to be distracted from all the failure on my brain.

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My temperature did stop raging while I walked. After a kilometer, we returned to our wog, just as we approached the longest stretch of uncurved uphill. Halfway up the killer hill, the heat flared up again. It felt like the sun was actually pressing on my face, igniting every nerve. Since I had already sinned in walking, I walked again. No quams, no self-deprecation. Just more walking. Trisha and I admired the scenery.

My memory of the route after the huge hill from my first run was completely hazy. Potentially because I was near passing out when I successfully summitted it. I was thrilled to see that the last two kilometers were the gentle downhill, flat bridge, and the finish. A cool breeze lapped at my face as we started to run again. I found my rhythm; I fell into my pace; I felt like a runner again. Until I rounded the corner to scale the last tiny hill to the finish and the heat slapped me in the face again.

But I finished. My original time was :59. My goal for this attempt was under 1:10. I finished in 1:05. So while I failed to successfully run the entire distance, I still finished with a very acceptable time. I walked at least a kilometer and a half, so had I run the whole thing, I could have seen my previous time again.

Trisha kept me in perspective, on both the running and the parenting. She waited for me; she distracted me; she said the things I needed to hear against the sea of bullshit swimming on my brain. For that, I was grateful.

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Phil ran the entire course on a day I could not. Michelle did the hardest race I know to date when she has been struggling with her runner mojo. Trisha hung back to be just the running buddy I needed. On a day I could have classified a failure, I found myself exceedingly proud of all of my Zombie Turtles.

Next year, I want to run the full distance. I will hope for colder temperatures as my running seems to be entirely contingent on the weather. But this year, even this failure will do.

Christina Bergling

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Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

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TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com

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Threshold

I believe I have discovered my threshold. In nearly every aspect of my life. Physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally, personally, familially (I know, not a word), financially. This is it; this is how much I can do.

The most obvious and apparent area (and the only one in line with the theme of this blog) is the physical. It has been well documented in my series of annoying rants that I have been trying to kill myself since the doctor gave me her blessing after the birth of my son. And it has not been easy or successful. I am neither dead or back to my pre-baby state, be it in conditioning or size.

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I have waged a frontal, varied assault on my body for months. I dove back into running with desperation and unquenchable demands. I joined a gym on steroids (just like its members), started taking a barrage of classes, and participated in 90-day weigh in challenges (that made me want to kill myself weekly). I potentially spend more time at the gym than anywhere else than my home office. I changed my diet. And changed it again. And tweaked it once more.

I do not relent because I do not see results, and I do not know what other course to take. Healthy eating and exercise equals weight loss; I know no other equation. I have no ambitions of chasing the media manufactured definition of “hot.” Rather, I just want to be back to what I would consider myself, feeling like my skin is my own again, fitting back into the wardrobe waiting in my closet. I am changed, and that is ok, but I can still quest after something at least reminiscent of my remembered physical body.

However, my physical regime is not merely aesthetic. I use both routine and the endorphins released by exercise to control my own brain chemistry, to avoid the psychoactive drugs usually necessary for someone of my mind. This approach creates a strange conflict. Obsessive exercise can be rooted in a faded eating disorder, yet that same exercise keeps me sane against the more pervasive condition. It becomes a delicate line to walk, and with my sloppy lack of grace, I often stumble and fall all over it.

I feel like I live at the gym or on the trail. I fucking hate gyms, always have. The mass of bodies counting reps in front of their reflections just looks like sad masturbation to me. Who am I to judge what makes someone happy, but it most certainly does not make me happy. I try to sprint through to child care and into the classes, where I can lose myself in the group activity, most often dancing. I disappear into the music and shake it until I am red-faced, panting, and drenched in sweat.

This physical commitment is daunting, especially coupled with the lack of progress. Just physically, I am often exhausted or sore. I seem to be in perpetual recovery. Yet it is also a time suck. A 10 mile run takes me a significant chunk of time. Driving to the gym, picking up and dropping off the kid, plus the actual class eats up time. I feel like this devotion (read: obsession) is taking away from my performance in other roles. I worry that it affects my work, that it gnaws away at my time and relationships with my family.

I have absolutely no spare time. I keep my children’s social calendars full. We are constantly on the way to preschool or dance or swimming or playdate or another activity. I work from home full time. I (try to) work as a published author, both promoting my existing works and drafting my next. I exercise 6 days a week. And I am finding that not all of these things are possible simultaneously. Obligations and necessities are being compromised in the attempt to do it all.

As a result, I just feel inadequate in all aspects.

I feel like my arms are heaped in tasks, laundry is stacked on my head. And I’m doing squats. With my children climbing up my back. And my partner is asking me to spend time with him. And the empty page is mocking me. And the scale remains unchanged. And my customer is waiting for his delivery. And my editor is asking where my next book is. And my daughter wants me to just sit down and play with her. And my son is crying where I can’t see him. And I don’t even remember what it is like to sit and be with myself for a quiet minute.

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I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know what to sacrifice. For so long, by some twisted miracle, I was able to do it all, somehow magically make it all happen. I have reached the threshold of that. I have fallen and skidded across it on my face.

I know my priorities. Family first, the work that supports them second. But can I let go of anything else and keep the demons at bay? Can I be good at anything if I keep myself so torn in so many directions?

At the end of this rant, all I want to do is lace up my running shoes, push the door open, and sprint until I can’t feel my face, until I’m panting so hard I can’t think, until my body is buzzing so loud my thoughts have disappeared. But that might be part of the problem.

Christina Bergling

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facebook.com/chrstnabergling
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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


Half Failure

My running mates and I have been registered and training for a half marathon for months now. For two of us, this included training back up post partum.

Any distance under 10 miles can become routine for me. 13 miles never has. Every time I run it, whether in my one actual race or practice, I hit 10 miles, and I am done; those final 3 miles are a struggle. So it is a lot of work and effort, and it is a challenge.

However, we never even got the chance. Months and miles and many dollars later, we stood in line in the freezing dark for over an hour, and we were turned away.

The race, the Revel in the Rockies half marathon, was to be a scenic downhill route, snaking through breathtaking scenery as the sun rose.

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Instead, I woke up at 4 am, pumped breastmilk in a cold, dark car, stood in a .75 mile long line that never moved while I shivered in the dark, and left with all my training completely unconsummated and feeling utterly unsatisfied.

I have had races cancelled for acts of God. Both the Bubble Run and the Devil Dash were cancelled on the same day when Denver/Boulder/Lyons had such severe flooding a couple years ago. That happens. And honestly, what can you do? It is always disappointing, but nothing can be done but reschedule or refund (almost always just reschedule).

This was not an act of God.

We stood in line pointlessly because there were no buses. Per the email from Revel after everything unraveled, the 52 contracted buses never arrived, and they had to cancel the half marathon due to permit restrictions. Even considering that this failure was completely human error, after my rage and disappointment subsided, I could dig some understanding out from the back of my brain. The buses the event contracted did not show; what could they really do about that at 3 am (besides actually having a Plan B)?

Angry, confused, disappointed, and somewhat lost, a contingent of our team decided we were running anyway. We drove into Morrison, found a park, and just ran. We needed to do something with all that anger; we needed to satisfy some of our bodies’ expectations for the morning.

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We were not happy, but it was something more than just returning to camp fucking livid.

The run we found would have actually been quite delightful–on any other day. Compared to the beautiful downhill half we had been anticipating so long, it was instead a slap in the face. The park had a paved trail that snaked through some lovely fields and trees before winding along a creek. It was gentle uphill on the way out then downhill on the way back. Not as good as 13 miles of down but still so much better than the brutal hills we live among. There was even shade and breeze. The weather was wonderful, mild with cloud cover.

All the perfect conditions for a half.

And I felt great running. The anger lay heavy on my pace. We ran 8 miles, and I could have kept going. The sun even came out, and it got hot. And I could have kept going. I sprinted hard at the end. And I could have kept going.

My body wanted to run that half marathon. Everything was aligned for my 13 miles. Except access to the route.

We did our run. We packed up camp and left. As we moved on with our normal lives, I tried to just let it go, only getting riled up again when we explained what had happened.

However, then I got home and learned from social media and the internet that 350 participants did in fact complete the half marathon. And it was supported. And they were timed and had winners and an award ceremony.

How in the fuck is that cancelled?

Learning that, I was just as pissed all over again. I understand they had participants at the start; I understand they could not allow the 1500 participants in line to drive themselves to the start. I understand the logistics there. However, if you support the participants that did make it up, the race actually happened. It was not cancelled, and I was prevented from participating my factors under the event’s responsibility.

And that is bullshit.

My understand and empathy have vanished, and I want my money back.

I don’t know where to go from here. I have two awesome shirts that I am hesitant to wear because the sight of them inflames my anger and I feel guilty because I did not complete the race they advertise.

Completing a half marathon was supposed to cement my recovery from pregnancy; it was supposed to bookend childbirth and return me to the condition I was in when I ran my first half when I was in my first trimester. The fact that it did not happen just seems to confirm that I have not made it back; that I will not make it back.

There is no way back.

Now do I try to run a different half marathon? Do I abandon the idea and return to my favored 10 miles and under? I just don’t know.

As upset as I have been at different instances today, I have not lost perspective entirely. It is just a race; it is just a superficial problem. It is extremely disappointing after so much work and preparation, and the entire situation was even worse for my sister who flew out from Boston exclusively for this race. Even if they reschedule (which why would they since they did actually hold the race?), it would do nothing for her. But, in  the end, it is just a run.

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I am anxiously waiting to see how Revel intends to rectify this clusterfuck of a lack of a race.

**Update**

Revel sent out an email taking full responsibility for the chaos and promising the choice of either a full refund or a registration transfer to any 2015/2015 Revel event. That resolution seems perfectly appropriate and has quelled my anger. I have made peace with my disappointment and am returning to considering a replacement half marathon. It seems wasteful to squander all that training.

 

Christina Bergling

christinabergling.com
facebook.com/chrstnabergling
@ChrstnaBergling
chrstnaberglingfierypen.wordpress.com
pinterest.com/chrstnabergling

SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning, coming July 2015

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


Run to the Shrine

Failure.

Failure to run an 11 mile on Tuesday.

Failure to run the duration of the Run to the Shrine.

Failure to lose the baby weight.

I have been working myself to death for nothing. I have been starving myself and eating clean bullshit for nothing. I have been sacrificing my personal time and time with my family for nothing.

Fuck this.

I won’t be able to run Cripple Creek if I couldn’t even manage these two miles.

At least my new shoes didn’t destroy my feet again.

***

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The Run to the Shrine did not go well for me this year. Last year, I was pregnant, walking, and pushing my daughter in a stroller half the time. This year, I just failed to run the duration, which is always my only goal. My base requirement for my running.

I had no great ambitions for a stellar time or for it to be easy; however, my only goal was to run/jog/wog the whole way up. I did not even make it the first mile. Maybe 3/4 of a mile up the brutal mountain hill between the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Shrine of the Sun.

Heartbroken, disappointed, frustrated, livid, we walked the second mile to the turn around; then I unleashed my pace downhill. I was relieved to find all my downhill training seemed to show in my form down the steep grade. That consoled me a little but not much.

 With some finishing perspective, I can force myself to more objectively evaluate my performance and appreciate the race. It was a beautiful race, both the weather and the scenery. I went with a group of great (and supportive) friends. And afterwards, we enjoyed the zoo.

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It was a shitty race but a good day.

I believe my failure was amplified by my earlier failure in the week. On the previous Tuesday, we had attempted a downhill 11 mile route in preparation for our upcoming downhill half in July. I only made it to mile 9. Yes, it was because my shoes were all wrong and my feet hurt so bad I could barely walk. I had to be picked up by car. Yet, reasons and excuses don’t alleviate the failure for me.

So the failed hill 5K compounded the failed 11 mile attempt, which was already compounding the perpetual failure of losing the baby weight and returning to my previous shape.

I know this is a journey… bla bla bla. I know there will be failures and reattempts… bla bla bla. I was just unprepared for two (totaling to three) failures in so few days and to not be able to simply wog a 5K, no matter how steep.