Chill Girl, Chill

5.18.10 Intensity is great... Until it's not

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I was too injured to run this past weekend.

Last Sunday after my long run (8 miles) we went to an 80’s party at my friend’s home and I, of course, chose to wear four-inch heels (I have a history of always selecting the wrong footwear).

About two hours into the party, my Achilles felt wonky. The next day it felt worse. And by Thursday, I was unable to run.

A part of me seriously considered heading to the Poconos anyway, running hard, blowing the thing out and then taking off a few months to recover. But what is the point of that?

Qualifying for the Boston Marathon never cured cancer. It is not going to bring back the people I have lost or save the lives of dying children (even if I run “for” these causes). Let’s face it: It really doesn’t matter that much. Certainly not enough to risk surgery and permanent injury.

Perhaps many of you already know this, but for me, it is a revelation. I am an intense person (shocking, I know) who is always passionate about everything I do, who strives for perfection and control.

I have just a small handful of really close friends because when I love someone or something, it is so all-consuming that it hurts. There is not enough of that passion to go around. I would do anything for the people I love and I feel the same way about the activities I do.

Back in college, when I was 19 (the age I think most women go insane for a little while), I was briefly seeing a man who was very laid back. This was a match made in…. somewhere other than Heaven.

He and I went back to his apartment one night and just as things started to get hot and heavy, I got into it and he got freaked. “Chill girl, chill,” he said.

Setting aside the obvious question -- what kind of college man in his right mind says that to a girl? -- I knew right then that it was over and that he? Did not get me. After all, “chilling” is not an option for me. From then on, I vowed only to date men who liked that intensity. And ladies: they have not been hard to find.

Of course, sometimes this passion also prevents me from seeing things clearly. Sometimes I want something so badly; I forget that in the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I could probably just “chill girl, chill.”

This spring, I have learned that lesson. I don’t think I need to say that it has been a very disappointing season. I comforted myself by registering for the Bay state Marathon in October, but it was still hard to know that the marathon I was registered for on Sunday went on without me.

On the other hand, this is only my second marathon season. I am still learning. And everyone – even Scott Jurek – has a bad season. And for all the bad feelings, I also have to say, it is kind of nice to be injured, to step back from running, to take a few days off.

I have gone biking, done a lot of writing, spent some extra time with my delicious and amazing family.

I will be running again once my Achilles pain goes away. But I am proud of myself for making the decision based on good sense instead of blind passion. I made a grown-up decision and though my 19-year-old self is screaming NEVER SAY DIE, my 30-year-old self knows I need my Achilles. She knows I will run again. And she knows this is not the last marathon season of my life (knock wood).

I am not going to become a laid back, “just running for the fun of it” person any time soon. But this season, I have had a taste of something less intense and I have to say, it was kind of nice, too.

I will probably never lose my competitive edge and my drive to succeed, but sometimes it is nice to just “chill girl, chill.” Life does not always have to be 80 mph in a Ferrari; sometimes a leisurely Sunday drive in a minivan works, too.

Sasha Brown-Worsham is a writer, a mother and an unabashed, unashamed runaholic. Check her progress each week as she trains to qualify for the Boston Marathon.