Giving Fear a Workout

Fear and I have been inseparable companions since my doctor recommended I have an ultrasound of my thyroid on November 6. That’s 24 days and nights of worrying. I know that one of things that Dave likes about me — and, frankly, that I like about myself — is that I usually lead with my chin. I might be a big baby on the inside, but I pretend to be brave and act accordingly and most of the time, it all works out.

But for three weeks and three days, Fear has been dogging me, trying to convince me that this time, all the acting brave wasn’t going to make a bit of difference.
Fear said that I had cancer.

Fear said that my entire thyroid would need to come out and that I’d need to take thyroid hormones every day.

Fear said that I’d quickly re-gain the weight I just lost.

Fear said that I’d have a big, ugly scar on my neck.

Fear said that all of my friends were going to grow tired of me being needy and would forget all about me.

And the number one taunt of that bastard Fear: My recent fitness success was a fluke. This setback would be permanent. I’d never be strong, fast, lean, or happy again because deep down, we both know that I’m lazy.

That’s a lot of stuff to have buzzing around a brain, especially when there’s nothing to do but try to find a comfortable position, take medication on time, and decide between NCIS, CSI:NY, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Fear and I settled into a schedule. I tuned him out with TV crime dramas and every few hours, as punishment, he’d trick me into either a short crying spell or a brief temper tantrum.

Now that my prescribed 10 days of rest have passed, I’ve been simultaneously looking forward to and dreading (frexciting!) my return to my training schedule. Dave and I went around and around this morning on whether or not to hit the Town Lake trail; Fear told me to stay home. Dave and I eventually crawled out from under the snuggly blanket and put on our Under Armour superhero outfits.

I ran two minutes/walked 30 seconds around the 4-mile loop. I wish I could say it was one of those awesome, magical runs. Meh. There were a few 2-minute intervals that felt good — fresh air, falling leaves, cute dogs, easy breathing. But mostly, I was trying to get Fear to leave me alone. I couldn’t outrun the fucker, but he didn’t stop me either. After the first 2 miles, he settled in next to me, and we ran together. Fear still crooning threats and me drowning out the noise with my iPod and heavy breathing. Crisis averted; an uneasy détente reached.

After lying in the supine position for a week and a half, my lower body wasn’t prepared for running. My knees ached almost the whole way. It felt like my femur and tibia were smashing into each other with every step. But the pain lessened as I went along. It was like the laces of a corset gradually being tightened, making everything more compact and efficient until the moving parts were held in place just so. Luckily, my knees distracted me from worrying about my neck, which started to be a bother at about the 35-minute mark. The irritation on my throat made me worry about my incision and if it was going to pop open and start spewing important parts of my insides to the outside.

Nothing dramatic happened, however. My neck is intact. My knees feel normal-ish. Dave was with me every step of the way. I felt better when I finished than when I started.

I can’t really ask for more than that.

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