Day 144 – When I Run Alone, I Prefer to be By Myself

Today I had a revelation: it’s only when I’m alone that I can focus on me. As I ran twelve miles today, I thought about why I prefer to run alone. My Love is always there but usually way ahead of me and I prefer it that way…

Today I realized why…I am a natural empathizer…I feel this makes me a solid friend, a good mom, and a caring wife…but not so good at being in tune with myself…

If anyone else is around, I immediately tune in to them instead. For the most part this is all good for me. However, when I am struggling emotionally or physically, I tend to want to be alone, although others want to support me and I love them for that. I find that in alone is the only place I can truly find me without being influenced.

Maybe I am a bit of an introvert after all…mind blown 🙂

Day #140: Sometimes Frozen Yogurt is a Spiritual Experience

She placed her hand in mine as we walked from her school to the truck, “Are we going to Goody’s?”

“Of course,” I smile, “It’s play practice day.”

Sometimes routines are nice, I think, especially ones that include frozen yogurt! But honestly, it all felt so good…the familiarity of this afternoon.

We went to the gym after dropping her off, and cross trained. I did a newer elliptical machine for 45 minutes. It was different, so different, from running. I had no pressure on my knees, my shins didn’t feel like they were on fire, and my lungs were operating with the wheeze breathing that often accompanies me on a run. And I giggled to myself as I realized, “Different is okay too.”

Life really is an oxymoron. Just when you think you have it all figured out, a curve ball comes and you haven’t a clue what to do with it! Sometimes it curves toward you, hits you square in the shin, and hurts like hell. Other times, you swing at it anyway, make a solid connection, and knock it out of the park. The aliveness comes in the breath in between the knowing…the dash where hope clashes with reality and we hide our face but peek between our fingers, because in all honesty…we need to know what happens when our familiar grinds against the unknown…it is both thrilling and terrifying–but it’s all the business of living…

“Close Up Strawberry Ice Cream” by rakratchada torsap via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Day #138: Strength is Beauty and Sometimes Your Legs Fall Off

Today we ran five miles…a maintenance run at this point in our training…I huffed and puffed a little…had some water…and cranked it out in about an hour…like its no big deal…

Little love got a new bike today. Her old bike was WAY too small and so let her pick out a new one for Easter. She was SO excited and wanted to immediately ride it to Mimi’s house to show it off.

Oh how she struggled…up the hills was hard, steering was “iffy”, and I about had a heart attach every time she almost didn’t stop. She was a little discouraged and a lot tired by the time we got back home.

I reminded her…”remember when Craigy and I first started running?” She nodded her head, “I could barely go a mile without feeling like my legs were going to fall off!” She giggled a little, “But now we can run 12 miles without stopping!” She looked at me like ‘Get to the point, lady.’ “You practice riding your bike like we practice running and you will be going all over in no time!”

Later, I hear her reporting to her Craigy, “I just have to practice so I can get strong legs.”

And that, dear friends, is why I run, why strength is beauty, and health is vibrant…because I have one little human that sees all that I do and trusts that it is good enough for her too…

Day #134: The Race is On, but Sometimes One Must Stand Still

Today I ran five miles. It was extremely humid and I have not (for whatever reason) had my best runs this week…my heart is full of emotions about my present life and my mind is in overdrive with everything that has to be done (but more about that at a later date).

This slow, determined, measured run reminded me of my life right now. I am feeling overwhelmed which generally makes me feel less motivated…with every new bill, project, and responsibility that stacks up, I dig a little further back into myself. I guess this is where the introvert comes out in me…

I’m working hard to break down the huge into small steps…trying to take a few each day…but the race seems to be running in all directions and I stand paralyzed with indecision about which way to go…

The gun has sounded though…and so begins my slow, determined stride…hopefully in the right direction! 

Day 119: Sometimes the Inner Voice is a Bitch

It’s Wednesday and I have a big weekend ahead. We are leaving tomorrow after school for Little Rock. Which means I need to get things washed and packed and bought and organized and and and…

So I went running instead. It was again cold and wet so we went to the gym. I started on the treadmill but immediately felt my calf muscles knot. I tried running through it but a mile in I was still in a lot of pain so I hopped on the track. I hobbled through the next mile but eventually the pain subsided to a dull ache. But today I figured out something very exciting, I can listen to audible books when I run!

I’m a book nerd at heart so it as beautiful to get immersed in a story (actually a rather funny memoir) while I did my laps.

She talked in the book about the demon who comes to live with us all at some point. You know that says you are never enough, you are too much of something, or you will fail…

It made me wonder when that voice started for me…I control that voice pretty well and have for as long as I can remember not because I’m awesome but because I find self-loathing unproductive. I’m rather type-A, so most things require a logical, concrete outcome for me to be too interested. But occasionally I indulge in my own inner critic. It usually sounds something like “You should eat healthier, live with less of a foot print, be a better mother.” “You could be a better therapist, spend your money wiser, be skinnier.”

Oh the list that never ends…

But really, then what, would it ever be enough for this world? This voice in my head? My own expectations? Probably not…nodefinitely not.

So again I find my self left with only me, with only this moment…six miles strong and one silly secret smile…

Woman in blue with hat pulled down over eyes and a sly smile.Blonde-colored dog curled up sleeping in a deck chair.

Day #117: Obey the Run-Master

Today I feel like a slave to the run-master. I feel my life revolves around miles and workouts, gym clothes and hydration. I feel like I spend every day looking for GUs, headphones, hats, and clean socks. I feel hungry all the time, tired most of the time, and sore all the times in between. I feel like I am constantly reading about running, talking about running, or, you guessed it, running.

This is not entirely a bad thing. While I sometimes get overwhelmed with the technicalities of it, sometimes bored with the repetition of it, and occasionally frustrated with the difficulty of it. I always feel proud and strong and clear-headed after a good run. I sometimes feel like I’ve got the art of running down and occasionally I enjoy the runners’ high. But mostly, I run because my body impresses me, my mind is silenced for a little while, and my heart is always engaged while I run. Running forces all of me to be present and I love it so much for that quality alone.

So here’s to the seven miles today and all the miles to come. May they be easy, may they be hard, but may they always be with every piece of me.

Red handled spoon in oat cereal.
Late night carb snack.

Day 115: Now is the Time to Thrive

This morning I looked out the kitchen and was pleasantly surprised to find new growth in my very dead-looking strawberry pots. They have sat out all fall and winter with no protection and I was sure they would all be completely un-salvageable. But look at this little guy, beating all the odds, and growing anyway…

I was dreading the run today. It was ten miles but due to the rain, rain, and more rain… we were doing it in a humid gym… staring at the wall from the treadmill or running small circles (14 of them makes a mile so you can do the math on the ten mile mark!) was less than appealing… but ready or not here I go!

I broke it up into two mile increments hoping that would trick my brain. Two miles on the track, two miles on the treadmill, one mile walking, two miles on the treadmill, two miles on the track, one mile walking. Roughly two hours later, I finished…

People ask me frequently, “How do you do it?” The honest answer is “one foot at a time.” But as I ran today, I thought about my little sprig of strawberry plant at home. How it has defied all odds to survive and now thrive again. And I imagined that this is my season too, my season to run, my season of strong, my season to thrive

Day #110: Cupcakes and Handshakes Change the World

Today I ran alone… it was weird… like running without my left foot… and although it was only 3.75 miles it seemed to take forever without my Love beside me…

He was there at the gym but his foot tendon was sore and he forgot his running shoes so he didn’t want to chance it…

I watched him shake hands with my uncle who also happened to be there. I imagined their conversation… him explaining why he wasn’t running… my uncle sharing a similar experience… and it made me think how we work so hard to be connected…

I had a mother in my office today practically begging me to hear her story. I met with a teenage boy who shuts down every time his story gets told on him.

We witness it all the time… in person… on Facebook… people desperate to connect to someone, anyone. And while that leads to a lot of dysfunction, the overall purpose is important. To really thrive, we need community, connections, nurture, love…

How many times in the rush of the day, in the haste of our agenda do we miss the most basic of our human connections… a steadying hand for an elder, a sincere compliment to a cashier, or surprising our spouse with their favorite “treat.” For my Love, it is a cupcake so– we neutralized the Monday blues with salted caramel heaven.

It makes me wonder, gentle reader, how many small kind things I could do if I just weren’t so into myself all the time? Maybe enough to change the world?

Or my world at the very least…

A vanilla cupcake with white frosting piled high, drizzled in caramel and rock sugar.

Day #108: Running is Teaching Me to Be a Better Me

We ran 10 miles today… and I didn’t even feel like I was going to die…

It was the first time I could picture me making it to the finish line at the half-marathon with my mom and little-love waiting there to cheer me on, I felt the pride of accomplishment, the joy of relief, and could see the big, cheesy grin on my face. It felt good to visualize it, to anticipate it. It made the training, the money spent, the hours invested–worth it.

We are half way through the training and it feels good to look at myself and see strength. Running is very therapeutic for me in that it forces me to come face to face with myself on almost a daily basis. I spend a lot time in my head while I run and I have been amazed at the amount of self-doubt and irrational thinking I have found there. Every single run I have to clean house so to speak. The whining, the “I cants”, and worse, the “I don’t wanna.” The critics and the doubters like to reside up there too. Not to mention, the physical pains and difficulty breathing.

At some point in every run, no matter if three miles or ten, I want to sit down kick my feet and pound the ground with my fists, I want to cry or yell or throw something, or I just want to lay down and simply refuse to get up ever again. No lie. Every. Single. Run.

What I found in my running is I am not always a very likeable person… or particularly brave or enduring… but I find myself in those runs. I see me. It is teaching me to be mindful of my thoughts, my breathing, my bodily form. Running is teaching me to be a better me.

That’s a good enough reason for me.

Day #105: Stay in the Moment, It May Be Magical

Snow happened again today and as surprising as that is on March 4th, it was beautiful. In the midst of watching the world glow white again, I was offered an opportunity that brought such hope to my heart. And I thought, “This moment couldn’t be more perfect.”

And it made me think about moments… how the same things can happen, words spoken, routine done… but every once in a while it’s like a moment get injected with magic… it comes alive… it breathes life. And it’s impossible to know when it might occur that way and even if you try to recreate that moment later… you may never feel that sparkle of energy in it again. For instance, Saturday I ran five miles on the track at the gym. About mile four, I suddenly got chills, my legs felt light, the right song came on, and I soared through the mile… smiling and almost giggling to myself. Tuesday, I ran five miles on the track at the gym. I survived it.

I say words to my Love all the time, sweet words, encouraging words, loving words. But the other morning, I rolled over, snuggled up and whispered. “I love this man.” He groaned under the weight of the moment. The magic of being at peace in a moment–settled into each other.

So there, gentle readers, another reason to stay in the moment because you never know when the magic will appear.