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

 

On Fire!

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
Jennifer Lee, filmmaker

What sets my soul on fire? Wow…what a question to wake up to this morning! I found the above quote in my inbox compliments of the Runner’s World daily newsletter. Honestly, I am surprised that this quote received such a reaction from my 5am, pre-caffeinated mind. Why does a soul on fire intrigue me so? Does that intrigue you?

So intrigued, I continue to wonder…what does a life (soul) set on fire look and feel like? Have I ever experienced such a thing in my life? Have I ever pursued such a condition for myself? Does a soul on fire burn slow and steady or rage flaming? Surely a fire must be continuously stoked? How does one keep or find the combustible material(s) for said soul fire? Do I fearlessly pursue anything? So many questions…not so many answers; but it is early in the morning!

I just don’t understand people not being passionate about something. Just have passion in what you do, and do it with all your heart
Jon Sutherland ~ run streaker (17,721 days straight of running)

Okay, so with a little more caffeine in my system, I begin to see that perhaps I do have a few things I pursue with some amount of energy and frequency in my life. When I consider how I gravitate towards several activities repeatedly, on purpose, for personal satisfaction or enjoyment, and that I am not easily discouraged or distracted from engaging in said activities on a daily basis (running, writing, reading, motivating others to become more active, etc.), then I realize that I may indeed be living as one who has a fire kindled at her center…maybe not a raging conflagration, but a fire burning is a flame by definition regardless of its burning intensity.

Human beings are so made that whenever anything fires the soul, impossibilities vanish. A fire in the heart lifts everything in your life. That’s why passionate leaders are so effective. A leader with great passion and few skills always outperforms a leader with great skills and no passion.
John C Maxwell

Fully awake now, I feel the warmth from center ooze into the extremities of my mind and body. I am beginning to understand my initial attraction and resistance to this morning’s quote in my inbox.

The light switch just flipped on when I realized that I resisted the idea of passionate pursuit because it just sounds like so much hard work and effort. A fearless pursuit of anything requires dedication, determination, drive and singularity of purpose. Considered from this perspective, it sounds like another job…ugh…who needs more work? Not I!

BUT WAIT, when I go about my day engaged in those things which I’m passionate about, these things are not like work to me. HELLO! My PASSIONS = My FUN and fun is not hard! Fun is easy! I love to do my fun things! Isn’t that true for all of you too? Oh my, but I am finally, fully alert. Now I see why this morning’s quote caught my attention. Now I understand how and why I must fearlessly pursue those things which kindle my soul to fire.

Coffee anyone?