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I needed a win.

It’s probably sad to not only come to that realization but also to voice it aloud, but as I drove home from Derby Lite on Saturday, the seemingly massive amounts of happy pumping through my body confirmed it.

I hadn’t cranked up music in our car in so long.

Since the stress fracture, I’ve felt rather adrift. For as much as I work out to combat ass expansion, I do it to save my sanity. I think part of being a grown up entails understanding your triggers, your strengths, your shortcomings and your needs and honoring on a regular basis what it takes to keep those things living harmoniously. For me, this would be exercise. Without it, my brain sets back to this lazy default, factory setting of complete inertia, which sets off a chain reaction of absolutely nothing.

Sometimes I swear I catch myself drooling, I’ve become such a sloth.

For as much as I might gain a couple of pounds during these periods, it’s the mental toll that seems to cause the most damage. Linda wrote yesterday of what a no-brainer it is to commit to taking care of yourself, but that despite knowing and reaping so many benefits, getting caught in a weird spiral of sugar, fat and TV watching seems to happen so fast that you barely knew what hit you.

I think what scares me most about the stress fracture, as it relates to my life from here on out, is that there will likely be a time where I’m unable to do what I do now. Kickboxing, boot camp, running … any number of things that I’ve made so crucial to my life may be forced to take a backseat longer than the three months I just experienced. Why does it always have to be one extreme or the other? Shouldn’t I find a happy medium?

I do like yoga, walking and lifting weights, and do those things with regularity. Still, it’s not the same high. I don’t find my way to the clarity I do from a 30-minute trek around my neighborhood, clocking mile after mile with only my playlist and thoughts as company.

Anyway, I didn’t fall down once at Derby on Saturday. In fact, one of the instructors – Lollapabruiza, to be exact, man I love Derby names – fixed my trucks on my skates and I was magically transformed. Seriously. During the 20 minutes, pre-skate workout, I sped walked and lunged with ease, and then as soon as I strapped on my skates and gear, I was a quivering, shaky mess and was *thisclose* to just leaving. But two, 3/4 turns of the trucks later? I felt as though I could fly. Skills that seemed impossible just moments prior – things such as, you know, stopping while remaining upright – I did with ease, as though I’d been doing t-stops my entire life.

(Honest to God, I never, ever thought derby was going to be easy, but sweet Jesus are the simplest things tough to get your brain and body around.)

When I was 16, I took a part-time job at Wendy’s. It was the second of my two part-time jobs, and both shared a parking lot. On day one, I remember standing with the trainer at the sandwich station as he rattled off all of the various sandwich combinations. Big Bacon Classics, for reasons that vex me to this day, don’t get any mustard, but everything else does. Just make sure you put it all on a Kaiser roller, not the basic bun, and a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger gets only mayo, tomato and lettuce, which always seemed rather gross to me.

This all seems rather pedestrian and silly to me now – especially since mayo on a burger isn’t that bad – but the evening I went home from that first day at the job is one of the most distinct memories I have, and it’s symbolic of just about every challenge that’s been in front of me. I always joke that Dave Thomas visited me in my dreams that night, as when I got to work the next day, I seemed to be able to reproduce every item on the Wendy’s menu, up to and including the chicken varieties.

Truth was, of course, that it just took another day of being there, of practicing. More to the point, it also just took some sleep and some faith. I had to talk myself down off of the ledge and believe that I could.

Whether it’s roller derby or burger flipping, I’m easily intimidated by new endeavors.

I truly did think I was going to quit after this Saturday, mostly because I just couldn’t think how I was going to have the bandwidth to improve in the way I thought I’d need to in order to get through the Spring. I couldn’t see clearly, couldn’t think rationally and was reasoning that a woman of my age – 36 next month! – probably shouldn’t be just now learning an entirely new sport, especially one that requires her to be on skates to do it, so maybe just see about getting my money back.

I’m not going to say that anyone is going to want me on a league any time soon. I’m certain I must have looked every bit of the fresh meat that I am. But I felt like I could take on the world, and was ready to do so, and it had been weeks since I’d had that feeling whatsoever, and in a bolt it was clear that nearly every facet of my life reflected that. I went from thinking about quitting to wondering if they have more classes once this session is over, and really, what should be my Derby name?

Without a doubt, I need to find a backup the next time I injure myself.

I’m back to running, slogging my way through the Return to Run program my doctor has me on. Yesterday I hit the gym – still can’t run outside just yet – and within those one-minute increments of running – I walk 4, run one, for 30 minutes, and progress as the month wears on – I felt that joy once again. Something has been stuck in my craw all week, wedged so tightly that when I woke up in the mornings it was all I could obsess think about. By the time I got home from the gym yesterday, I remembered something my messy little mind had allowed me to forget, a small piece of information that, when reflected upon, dislodged all of the bad feelings and worry and allowed me to salvage what was left of my weekend.

Those things that keep us from being totally present suck. And by “things” I  mean “us” because it’s not as though I didn’t have the choice here.

All of this is to say that I feel myself coming back again. All of the synapses are firing again. Not all of my pants are fitting, mind you, but that’ll come in good time.

For now? For now it’s good enough to say that on Saturday morning I did not fall on my skates, that yesterday I ran in one-minute increments, six times and by last night I’d given myself a little bit of grace for not being perfect.

I am so thankful to be back.