Going All Out

I’m back! Back to running that is. I’m almost afraid to make such a public announcement, afraid I’ll jinx myself, because I’ve been away from my running self for well over a year. That my slump coincided with the passing of my mother is understandable, on an intellectual and emotional level, of course.

But on the physical and cognitive level, I could not accept that this once happy activity flat-lined without my permission. While I faithfully moved my legs on the treadmill, I could not muster the desire to go outside for runs around town. Something had changed for me and my running life. I do not know when or why or how I lost my happy running self. All I know was this: that girl was long gone! And she left me to run alone!

I eventually came to terms with the change, and I settled into a solitary routine which moved my body, but not my spirit. I accepted the fact that I was doing my body good even though I wasn’t experiencing the familiar endorphin rush. I entered 5K and 10K races here and there throughout the passing months, but more and more I felt like I was running in someone else’s body. I continued to run because I could, but I was lost, disconnected from by best self.

During those long months, I found solace by reading about running, or about famous runner athletes; I read about sports psychology and the power of the mind to enhance performance. All these things kept my head and heart in the sport. Most importantly, reading about running gave me hope…hope that I would eventually rediscover my focus, my muse, my love for happy running in the near future.

And then as providence would have it, this past January, an email appeared in my inbox. It’s subject line singularily suggestive and ultimately sinister:

Apply Today for the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon

What sort of a joke was this? I don’t run marathons! Why did those people from New York send me this email. I almost deleted the email without opening it. And I’m not sure why I even felt compelled to open it. But I did. And before I could think the whole thing through, I actually found myself applying for the marathon entry raffle. It took me less than two minutes to complete my registration. With one final push of the SUBMIT button, I became a player. What did I have to lose? Nothing!

More importantly, what did I have to gain? First and foremost in my mind, I would have to schedule a trip to New York City for sure. A trip to the place of my birth, which of course I have always wanted to visit since I was raised on the west coast of southern California from the age of 2 onward.

But wait, if I won an entry, that meant I would need to TRAIN to complete a marathon: 26.2 miles of running in one day! I’ve heard myself say out loud, on many occations, and often in mixed company, that running a marathon is a crazy, over-rated amount of running to ask a body, especially MY BODY, to do! Good grief, what had I done? What was I thinking? I had potentially committed myself to run a marathon! 26.2 MILES! Oh my, that was and still is a frightening thought. But wait, what are the chances of my winning an entry? 1 in 16,000! HA! No worries…I am not that lucky. But what if I am?

If I am that lucky, then there is no time to lose! I can not waste a month, or any months, of unfocused running because 26.2 miles is a very long way! Wait a minute…I signed up to run a Marathon? Well, no… not just yet. That happens later. I would have a month of anxious waiting to do before I would know the outcome of the raffle.

You can probably predict the outcome of my raffle entry. However, I will not spoil that story in this post. In the meantime, though, you should know that during the days of waiting for the raffle announcment, I was pretending to be a runner again. I was running and pretending to train for a Marathon. And while I was pretending, a funny thing happened along the way…I met and found my happy running self again.

And I think I like this new, updated version of me. The reluctant marathon girl. I think I like what she has become; what she has done for me. She has given me a purpose for running. She has given me a goal to aim towards; she has renewed my focus which I thought I had lost for good. She has given me a reason to run (achieve) and a distance (fear) to overcome. Yippee! I have met my hero, and alas she is me!

Now all I need is a plan…but first, I will need to run…did I mention I’ve never run 26.2 miles at once…EVER?

Even though I may never know what propelled me to submit that fateful lottery entry, I am so very glad I did, because I’ve never felt so good, so alive since I’ve begun my training. I AM ALL IN! To be continued…

Nothing beats the inner peace of mind of knowing that you went all out with your best attitude and expended your full effort. Doing your best by discovering the borders of your physical limits is also your own true gauge of personal success.  Jim Afremow ~ The Champion’s Mind

 

ROAR

So this is grief and grieving? It is a strenuous process!!

Sometimes…like today…

I just need to do this one little thing ~ ROAR…

Yes, I roar; then, I run!

But this one thing I do,
When I run and roar…
I run towards…not away;
I run towards my life!
I roar for the fight of my life!

I have a life! ROAR!

I run towards life to embrace it;
To embrace it with
All my strength,
And hope,
And passion.

I RUN! I ROAR!

I am…
Better.

Thoughts Well Chosen

Run the Mile You Are InI do not know who quipped these wise words, but they have been especially helpful to me in regards to my run training of late. In fact, when I consider how useful this mantra has been for my running, I realize that this idea easily transfers into my non-running life too.

Whether putting in the miles for long road races or technical trail races, I often find I need to avail myself of this wisdom. Run training cycles can wear on a runner’s mind as much as the miles wear on the body, and I find I am most tempted to quit a run when facing those tired, anxious thoughts during long solo runs. However, now that I have added this mantra to my runner’s tool box, I have discovered a powerful implement to beat off negative run-thinking.

As many runners will attest, the power of a well chosen mantra can allay and repurpose unproductive thinking during a hard run. This mantra has become my new best-friend and a powerful antidote for run-weary thoughts. When I focus my mind on these words, I  am firmly re-connected to my body as it moves in the present moment. From this present perspective I settle my breathing and my pace and I find it possible to relax my grip on the unknown, which is measured in miles to go until I finish.

Savor the quest, not the finish. The Cool Impossible ~ Eric Orton

Thoughts of the unknown are always projected onto the movie screen of the future. The minutes, hours, and days which we cannot physically inhabit, become the playground for bullies who taunt our imagination with fearful images of ourselves as incompetent, inadequate school yard failures.

This driving need of ours, to know what we cannot know, has the potential to strip us not only of physical energy but also of happiness and joy for the journey we are currently running; whether it’s the next 100 feet of uphill trail or the next blank page of a manuscript which needs to be filled with narrative, story and conviction.

Every race is a question, and I never know until the last yards what the answer will be. Long Run Solution ~ Joe Henderson

It’s funny how this one little mantra has taught me something about thoughts well chosen; about how thoughts have no power over me except to distract me into believing them as true. And I have become keenly aware of the importance of choosing quality thoughts, because quality thoughts produce quality running and quality living.

When I direct my thoughts to inhabit the moments of now, they clearly have their effect on me. When I run in the present mile, I have focus and strength and breath for each step I take in the present mile. I do not, I can not, and I will not worry about whether I’ll have breath or strength for the miles ahead. I am training myself to just keep moving…for now.

From this perspective I am able to focus my mind and body on the powerful physical movements I am making towards my finish line, rather than wasting precious energy entertaining ideas of what I may not be able to accomplish.

My run training has taught me that as my body responds to the training effects of physical repetition and practice, my mind likewise improves its ability to inhabit and reflect on the current moment rather projecting itself into the future.

I feel silly admitting that at 50+ years of age, I am still learning how to live positively in the reality of the present, fully inhabiting all the moments which make this time now.  But here’s the beauty of learning how to live in the land of now: with every step and stride I take, I grow in confidence that my breath and legs will be adequate for the journey…to carry me through the mile I am already in.

Why Do I Run?

Why do I run? I run because it makes me feel so fully alive…in my body and in my mind. It is a spiritual, mystical experience; it is not something I fully understand, this feeling, this need to move my legs and feet. Nor can I easily explain or define why running is so meaningful to me. But run I do, because it magically makes time slow down and with every breath I deeply breathe I exist and am firmly rooted in the presence of now.

And running gives me so many choices…I may propel myself forward in any given direction at any given speed or effort. I may run lightly as a leaf blown about on the morning’s gentle breeze. Flitting here and there…gliding, tumbling, or plodding…it doesn’t matter which way I go, up or down, my feet follow one after the other, traversing the hilly streets all around my little town…until they wish to run no more and then they walk me safely home again.

While running, we can use the body as another language in which to express our longing for God. Running artfully, our bodies become a beautiful liturgy of the physical. Running the Spiritual Path ~ Roger Joslin

I run to remember, to remind myself that I am alive; older with each passing day it’s true, but alive and awake enough to breathe deep so as to expel the staleness of the moments just past; I move toward each new moment with purpose; I chase it down with great anticipation for what will appear; for what will arrive and for what will depart. To run is to strive for all that I am and all that I may be.

Why do I run? Because I can; because I must; because I love to feel so fully, so painfully alive…in my body and in my mind. It is a spiritual, mystical experience.

Wind and Rain

I had to kick my butt out the door this afternoon for today’s run. Not having a race on my calendar to train for really makes it easy to stay indoors, especially when the weather is threatening rain with gusty winds. It’s not that I haven’t run in the rain before or that I’m afraid of getting wet. I ran earlier this week on a morning that looked less rain-ful than today and I ended up getting hailed on before I finished the 4-mile out and back. Rain is one thing, hail is much more hurtful.

Thankfully, the rain held back for me this afternoon, and the temperature was perfect (50 degrees +/-) even with the gusting wind. Today’s run put 30 miles on my legs this week, and they felt a little weary and my breath too came in heaves because I was running at mile high elevation this afternoon. But all in all, I am glad I got over myself, and got out the door and moved myself down the trail and back.

Running…How To Do It

“I told him I’d started running, and I wasn’t sure if I knew how to do it. He said there wasn’t all that much to it, aside from remembering to alternate feet.”
Step by Step ~ Lawrence Block

This quote made me laugh when I first read it and I knew I wanted to share it on my blog one day soon. I just finished reading this book and enjoyed Mr. Block’s memoir; running and walking was (and I hope still is) a prominent feature of his life’s story.

Tomorrow I’ll be running my first 10K of 2015 and I’ll probably be smiling while I think about this silly little quote about alternating my feet. The Dr. Gann’s Cinco de Mayo 10K is in it’s 35th year, but tomorrow will only be the second time I’ve run this race. It’s an out and back mixed, hilly route which thankfully ends with the last 2 miles downhill. Should be nice and warm too, around 70 degrees at 7am.

I’m not as trained this year as I was last year, my schedule was full of work and caretaking for a sick parent, so tomorrow’s race is for the pure pleasure of running, simply because I can and I have no where else to be at 7 o’clock in the morning. I hope to at least run the same pace as I did last year, but if I’m feeling fresh and strong you can count on me to push the pace up a bit too. So here’s to tomorrow’s race and to how to do it!

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving. ~ Anatole France

Racing or Running?

What is your intention? Your intention for the day makes all the difference to how you will rate the finish line at day’s end. Will you race through your day? Or will you run through it? By definition, a race is a competition or contest in which there will be a winner with many runners’ up. Likewise, a run indicates quick forward momentum, when for a short moment, both feet are off the ground.

So what is your intention for the day? Will you treat it like a race and gut out your day, heaving with great sighs of breathing and straining with an intensity and focus that tramples every obstacle in your path? Or will you instead lace up for your day with careful pacing of your energies and metered awareness of the passing moments so as to accomplish those chores and duties you encounter through the day.

Racing through your days can wear you down and leave you feeling defeated if you don’t finish the day ahead of your to-do list. However, if we can run through our days with attention to our pacing and purpose, then we may accomplish what is most needful for today and be satisfied with no more or no less.

Kara-Goucher