Edit the Sad Parts: A Tale of Two 2014s

In one version of 2014, I am going through the emotionally draining process of fully separating myself from an extremely unhealthy previous relationship. I am interviewed for a faculty position in the town where I live, at the university at which I am already working - but don't get the job. Shortly after this rejection I am diagnosed with breast cancer, and spend the next 6 months in and out of tests, consultations, surgeries, and treatments - all the while grappling with this new reality and the impossible decisions and changes that come with it. All told, I need to take over 3 months off from running while I recover physically from two different surgeries, which is very difficult for me mentally because running is one of my foremost tools for coping with stress. During this period, I start a new job and try to pretend that cancer is not throwing my life into turmoil. As the year closes, I am educating myself on treatment side effects and the statistics of recurrence rates, and am finding 40 minute runs a challenge.

In the other 2014, I am nurturing a strong and loving relationship with my current partner. He, as well as my family, his family, and my close friends, are amazing sources of help and support. Brendan and I spend countless hours exploring the wilderness of BC, by foot, snowshoe, bike, snowboard, and ski. We take an amazing 3-week vacation to Bali to celebrate life and new beginnings. On this trip, and 2 weeks after my first cancer surgery, we hike for 3 days to summit, traverse, and descend an active volcano. Early on in this 2014, I successfully defend my PhD thesis. When I am turned down for the job at my current university, I apply to and get a different faculty position, at a university I have always dreamt of working at. I fall in love with trail running - and 2 months after that first surgery I run a gruelling and beautiful 50k trail race, my longest ever. One week before undergoing my second surgery, I run my last race of the season in a 25k that travels some of the most gorgeous alpine terrain I have ever seen. As the year closes, I have been back running pain-free for 2 weeks and am busy making short- and long-term goals for both my running and my life.

The thing is, of course ... these were both my 2014. In our online personas, we so often edit the sad parts (to borrow from Modest Mouse), because we want to show the world the shiny version of our year; of our life "timeline". This is human nature - but the truth is, the sad parts are what make the good parts so much brighter, and also what make us who we are. 

In running, the process of training and racing is full of challenges; it's the way we choose to deal with those challenges that makes us better runners, and ultimately paves the way for incredible experiences. In fact, the hardships, and our ability to persevere, make the overall experience all the richer. Life is no different. Embracing the sad parts, and learning how to move beyond them, is what makes us grow.

I am ending this year grateful for my wonderful partner, family, and friends; and feeling strong, happy, and healthy. This is not in spite of that first version of 2014, but largely because of it. 

And so I say, Welcome, 2015. I look forward to whatever experiences you have in store. In the long run, I will make the best of all of them.


  1. Wow, what a profound post, Tara. Best of luck to you. I appreciate your positive views and reminder that there is always a positive side to life. :)

    1. Thanks so much, Janet! Incidentally, your recipes are regularly a VERY positive part of my life :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

WAM 110k 2018: DNF (Do Not Feel sorry for me)

Squamish 50k 2018: A Finish Line 5 Years in the Making

Follow the Yaks: Trekking the Langtang Valley in Nepal