What Next?

A few weeks ago I wrote about my amazing experience running and completing the Marine Corps Marathon. Since then I have been medically advised to take a step back from running as well as any truly vigorous exercise. To heal. Though the recommendation is medical based and relevant to my GI tract, I believe it’s also about me healing emotionally. Time seems to have sped up in a way that the days get ahead of me. I literally lose words. I am exhausted. While I try to process the marathon or rather hold tight to the liberating emotions of that day, I find myself struggling to keep up.

And I am trying to figure out what next. Yet, slowly opening myself to allow “what next” to find me. Somehow that seems more romantic.

Long walks and heated yoga classes, good books, new recipes, and pauses to look out the window are all part of my current prescription. Oh, and keeping warm under a cozy quilt.

When the moments seem to be on fast forward, what do you do to find the calm amongst it all?

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It Changed Me

26.2 miles. Sunshine. Music. Runners. Posters. American Flags. Helicopters. Marines. Family. Strangers. Cheers. Clapping. So much inspiration.

It. Changed. Me.

For the first time in my life, I was PRESENT for it all. Immersed in all of the experience. The energy melted into my being. Like being transported to another place, another capacity of time, I was completely in it. And it felt amazing. My legs held me strong, propelling me forward. My lungs happily exchanging air. My breath so rhythmic, it was calming. “I’m doing it,” I smiled, high-fiving my brother at mile 18.

This was beyond a runner’s high. This was a transformation.

The disabled war veterans competing, the hundreds of marines lining the fuel stations, the race course and greeting all at the finish line with a medal was humbling and inspirational. Gratitude doesn’t quite capture what I feel for all servicemen and servicewomen.

This race was a test for me. A test of my mental capacity and ability to push through. I needed to do this. I needed to get to the other side. And the relative ease in which I accomplished this feat, was exhilarating. More than a race, it was a marker for me of where I am beyond any physical measure.

Running and completing a marathon requires dedication, commitment, perseverance, flexibility, desire. Running in the Marine Corps Marathon requires all of it…but then humbles you in a way that is uplifting and motivational.

Well, I think I just might be a runner!

Marathon Training

It’s almost here. My second marathon. Honestly, never thought I’d be here. Actually, never thought I’d be at the first marathon. Which by the way, I did approach mostly with confidence..but left a bit broken and defeated, crossing the finish line much later than anticipated. However, with reflection, realized in hindsight what an incredible day it had been. So this year….it’s about “setting the record straight.”

And then came my 20 mile run last Saturday. Ugh. I was perfect, in the groove until about mile 16. The humidity was high, the temperature and dew point combined was not ideal. I had fuel, water, change of socks, support (D!). But I faded. And it brought back a bit of fear and anxiety – I don’t want to feel this again the day of the race as I reach these impending miles. I will have a chance to run the 20 miles again and have some tweaks to my nutrition that I intend on making. However, it’s my mindset, my Self that I know I need to tweak just as much if not more. And this is the real challenge. Ironically, it’s the long runs I have come to really enjoy. I have a comfortable pace, my breathing is so rhythmic, my feet supported by what feels like clouds (I LOVE my Brooks!), and I’m in my mind for a longer time. Just me. The shorter runs have become a bit more intimidating as I feel I need to push a bit harder, my breathing is more pressed, my mind a bit scattered. I suppose I feel less in control?

And maybe that’s a metaphor for my life right now. As I feel overwhelmed, pushed, compressed in a way, definitely scattered and certainly on many levels alone, I move quickly but not in a way that benefits my mind..or my body. When I take pause, literal deep breaths, read, practice yoga..when I am moving at a comfortable, yet conscious pace, I am more at peace.

What is it that makes you more at peace? Gives you peace? Fosters peace inside of you?

Filling Up My Cup

Just the other day I wrote a post mentioning I was strongly encouraged to discover what fills my cup. Tending to be the type of person to push myself, activities I choose to do fill my cup, but they take away from my cup as well. Balance. How this idea of balance needs to come to fruition in my life. I am the girl who signs up for a triathlon to take her FIRST swim lesson just two months prior to the race. The one who joined only about a hundred people in total (at that time) who had traversed the Via Ferrata at the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.

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Right about here I am cursing myself “Why do you do this??!!”

The girl who would have panic attacks while running, but managed to find the finish line of a marathon. The girl who was told “you can’t bike 100 miles” and made sure less than a year later that statement was proved wrong.

I push myself. All the time. And I think it’s because I don’t feel worthy otherwise. I feel week. T and I watched Hidden Figures last night – my new favorite movie! – and it is so inspiring to witness women pushing beyond limits, despite being told “you can’t” they proved they can. They defied what was perceived as possible at that time. They were strong and bright and determined. And they weren’t going to allow anyone to hold them back. Granted their pushing beyond limits was for something far greater – equal rights and basic humanity.

But this is where my line blurs. The line of balance. When does pushing yourself become too much? Where does that sweet spot lie – the exact spot where you have pushed just the right amount. I haven’t discovered it yet. It’s a constant back and forth in my mind…a struggle to prove myself maybe? What am I trying to prove? That I am strong? Capable? Anything but week? Or am I “running” away from something? Is my constant push actually an attempt to avoid? All thoughts to ponder I suppose.

These past few days I have discovered a few ways in which I can fill my cup – without simultaneously depleting it.

  1. Walking – through my neighborhood, with my son, with my dog. Just walk. And notice.
  2. Watching an inspiring movie – fosters motivation, some clarity, and honestly..joy
  3. Sitting on the sidelines of T’s sporting events – listening to all the sounds…the birds, referee’s whistle, the cheers, the clapping, feeling the energy

I intend on adding to this list. But for now this is my start. Drop by drop.

Faith

This is long overdue. An examination of my marathon. Writing, with my left hand, about each mile. What I was feeling, thinking, seeing. I did it. And now I am having a hard time with the “results.” At the advice of my yoga teacher, I named the race. Faith. Each mile I needed to somehow relate to faith. Mentally working through each mile may just give me my life lesson she had said.

And this is where I am struggling. It was mile 16 I saw my my sister-in-law, nieces, T, my dad, and my mom. My interaction was mostly with my mom however. T and my dad where standing back and up on some stairs. I wasn’t feeling very strong at this point or at least not as strong as I had in training. And from here it went downhill. After I saw my family, it went downhill. And honestly, I think it was more after I saw my mom specifically. Ugh. I became weaker. More in my head. Weak. Beaten. Defeated. Up until seeing my mom she had been sending me supportive texts. When I saw her, she was proud. She yelled out as I ran off “How are you feeling?” and T just happened to snap a picture the moment I turned to respond. The look on my face says it all.

So why after this point, the point where I should have felt an extra boost, did I lose energy?  I can still feel what it felt like now – the lack of energy. It was a gross feeling. It was so hard to keep moving. And truly I didn’t know if I could. I became my weak, old, self full of anxiety and panic. And that turns into a downward spiral. My brother was running also. He had been a few miles behind me. I called him to say I didn’t think I could do it. He told me to keep going, he’d catch up with me. I kept looking back, looking for him. He never caught up. But, the fact that he tried so hard still warms my heart. He was there for me.

I crossed the finish line that day. Not even close to the time I had trained for and expected. It wasn’t until hours later, I could reflect back on the race and notice the many gifts.

So faith. Faith in myself. In my strength. In my abilities. Trust in who I am. And probably most importantly, feeling confident in doing what I know is right…for me. Not doubting. Yes, faith.

Purpose

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

Ok so T and I have been reading daily quotes. And I absolutely love this one by Mark Twain. It gave me an excitement, almost sense of adventure. And one I have been so eager to embark on since I was a child really. I remember thinking strongly I had a purpose. A significant purpose. I’ve resigned myself to thinking it may not be some internationally known figure but simply a mom. Specifically to D and T. And the work I attempt to master with them will have a trickle down affect. And there lies my mark in this world.

Actually in yoga last week during shavasana, we listened to a commentary of sorts. The woman speaking asked “Who are you? And why are you here?” And this is where I am at. Facing this question. With sincerity. And purpose. And curiosity. And wonderment. And excitement.

About a month ago my yoga teacher – who I have known for about 15 years now – challenged me to write about each mile during my marathon. She felt truly examining where my mind was at each of these markers would lead me to the answer of what happened at mile 18. Why did it all change for me? Interestingly, she suggested I write with my left hand (I am a righty) because it would tap into a different part of my brain. Then she stated “I believe you will discover your life’s lesson.” Wow. I am ready. So ready.

What is your purpose in life? Have you pondered this before?

What Are you Running From?

A marathon. 26.2 miles of running. Endurance, perseverance, mental toughness. In less than four weeks, I will complete (I hope!) my first marathon at the MCM in D.C. Please someone tell me what I was thinking when I agreed to do this? Wasn’t a year of divorce and being diagnosed with SIBO enough? Aah, but that is not my style. Never has been. I tend to push myself to limits. Why? I don’t want fear to prevent me from moving forward. Pushing myself through thick mud allows me to see and experience the other side.

Yes, my yoga teacher has stopped me several times now asking “So did you figure out what you are running from yet?” But I’d like to think I am running towards something. “Ha,” she said, “keep telling yourself that….” While running the other day, the question popped into my head. From the divorce. That is what I am running from. The divorce. But….I think that is too much the obvious. Although I think it’s a piece of the pie, it’s not the whole pie. Anger, sadness to the point of tears, and even elatedness surface during running. So what am I running from? Maybe it’s all those feelings and where they stem from? Maybe it’s from my old self? Maybe it is simply from the divorce? Memories? Hurt? Disappointment? Maybe it is from fear? Could it be that this time it is fear that is holding me back, holding me in? Interesting right? I push myself throughout my life to basically give the middle finger to fear, yet, right now I may be running away from it?

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
– A.A. Milne