I miss my running coughing attacks in the age of coronavirus

The hour before road races start, my body develops what I call “my running coughs.”

My nose runs, I get into a fit of coughing attacks and it feels like my body attempts to vomit all my nerves out.

My coughing reminds me of John Coffee from the movie “The Green Mile.” It’s my way of vomiting up all my fears and nerves as a green mist, leaving my body.

It’s a mixture of excitement and fear pulsating through my body; the fight or flight syndrome at its peak.

I’m usually shivering at the starting line of each race paralyzed in fear, ready to vomit my guts out, screaming these 3 questions in my head:

  • Will I manage the distance ahead of me? It’s too far!
  • Will I come last & be humiliated? WTF am I so slow?
  • Have I done enough training? It’s too late now!

2020 has felt that way for me. The uncertainty. The self-doubt. The fears. The anxiety. The question, “why is this happening?”

Some things are certain with every race:

  • Water stops
  • Road Marshalls
  • Kilometer markings

That’s it! The rest is up to me.

I have no idea until I start running whether or not I’ll feel strong, or if I’ll trip on cat eyes or need the dreaded portaloo, or even hit the wall.

That’s why I get my running coughs. It’s the unknown which is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

I haven’t run a race since Bobbies in February. I miss the pre-race adrenaline. That addictive sick sensation pumping through my body.

My running coughing attacks remind me that anything can happen. Anything.

But what the hell, run anyhow!

Let lockdown anxiety run its course

Lockdown anxiety finally broke me. It stole the last flicker of hope I was clinging on to and I’m not the only one who has just about had enough.

But I’m a denialist. I deny that COVID is out of control. I deny that my country is burning. I deny that things globally are in a real fucking mess. But they are.

I’m tired of hearing about the government. Of corruption. Of failure. I’m tired of not having answers. I’m tired of not knowing what to do or say. I’m sick of the negativity.

So my only escapism is to head to track twice a week and run laps around a dry grassy field. Alone with my thoughts and possibly the only hour I have without checking into social media.

And then this happened…

Chatting to my running coach on Saturday put things into perspective. We always start each new month discussing (negotiating) running goals. But this time was different.

Without asking, she said this:

“Bron, there is no need to push. There are no races to train for. All I want is for you to enjoy your running. Take it easy.

This isn’t about PBs. It’s not about the distance. It’s about getting out there and being consistent. Let’s get to September and then relook things.

But for now, all I want you to do is hang in there and do what you can. Don’t put anymore pressure on yourself.”

And that’s all I needed to hear…

Just hang in there. Ride this wave. Let it happen. Let it wash over me and move on.

There’s no need to put pressure on myself. We’re all struggling. There are no prizes. Even though just getting through the day deserves a medal.

And to control what I can. I can manage 3km runs and track twice a week, and that’s all that’s expected of me.

I can’t control what’s going on in my country, and no one is expecting me to. I can’t control how people react. I can’t change how others deal this pandemic. But I can run.

We’re a month away from Spring. Let’s ride this wave …

Don’t overthink it.

It’s a simple sentence but one that stopped me in my tracks when I read it.

Don’t overthink it. What do you mean “Don’t overthink it?” How is that even possible? I’m a thinker. It’s what I do.

Weeping Buddha. Bought in Bali a few years ago & which sits on my dressing table. 🤎

My need for escapism is at an all time high. Especially since lockdown has my brain fried.

I’ve gone from days loving being locked up in the solitude known as my office, to other days when I can’t breathe and seek out any excuse to get in my car and drive away, music blaring.

I’ve started training again with running Coach Michelle. It’s been a lifesaver. My only constant in a world gone mad.

Running around a dry & grassy field alone over and over again gives you time to think. X8 laps worth. And my Sunday run turned into a walk when the weight of my thoughts were just too heavy to carry.

  • The COVID case numbers are out of control
  • The economy is shattered
  • Unemployment and desperation is rising
  • Anger. Blame. Hatred. Fear.
  • There’s no end in sight

The exhaustion of trying to live in a state of endless hope has taken its toll on me. I’m losing hope.

I’m tired. Tired of being hopeful on my own. Just for once, I need the freedom to vent. To be angry. To collapse. In safety.

The weight of giving up hope weighs heavily. Because if positive people, like myself, give up, then what?

Not overthinking it is impossible right now.

Dear Emma,

The house is so quiet.

I had no idea just how large your presence actually was. I had become so accustomed to your snoring under my desk while I worked. So used to your sprawled out body on the couch at night, making us uncomfy watching TV. Your barking at the top of the stairs until I came to carry you down.

Always under my feet

I’m a little lost.

My entire day revolved around you. The 7am wake up call for breakfast, the stare-downs for liver snacks during the day, the begging when you wanted a walk, supper at 5pm and then the 2am bladder call, again more barking next to the bed to be carried down the stairs.

Loved your little body on my lap

Guilty.

In the first few weeks I felt guilty. Guilty because I could sleep through the night. Guilty for having the bed to myself again. Guilty for being able to go out for a run and not have to worry about your anxiety levels soaring.

You had a major personality change when Annie left us. From being such a carefree happy little girl, you were alone and unsure. Your separation anxiety peaked and you never quite found your place in the world without your big sister.

Lessons from a dog called Emma nailed it.

But we bonded. And I loved our time together.

I miss these moments

Starting my own business meant we spent the whole day together. There were so many hugs, which you hated.

You listened to all my stories. You watched me laugh. You looked away when I danced. You’re the only one who saw me cry. A lot.

Even in those last few weeks when we knew you were ready to say goodbye, you taught me to take time to feel the sun on my face. To enjoy my afternoon naps. To get excited for chicken and butternut (just the way Oumie made it for you.)

You loved your suntanning

And when you finally fell asleep in my arms, you had such a beautiful peaceful look on your face. I even washed all the breakfast butternut off your beard and washed your face with a warm face cloth – you loved that too.

It’s taken me longer to say goodbye to you than when we said our goodbyes to Annie. She was strong. But you were the baby and you held all our memories of her.

Now you’re both gone.

Nothing really prepared me to say goodbye to both my girls. The house is so empty.

This face!

We talk about you often.

We still refer to you as our “little puppy.”

We miss you Emma. Thank you for the joy & love you brought into our lives. xxx

Kisses …
KK and his girl.