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?

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Smiles and Stress

“With fond remembrance of your amazing smile, the one that took over your face seemingly sponsored and wattaged by Edison bulbs.”  A message – to ME – from a long lost friend. How that stirs up all that is good thinking I reflected an obvious sense of happiness. We all know how things aren’t always what meet the eye…but…there’s always a grain of truth regardless. And these words artistically phrased and meant for me, well, it made my day. How nice is it to be remembered for something so utterly positive?

Only days after receiving this message, one of my yoga teachers was crouching in front of me at the beginning of class and remarked rather simply “you have a great smile.” And again I felt good about myself. Like a reassurance that I am ok.

And the cherry on top? The song played at the end of yoga class tonight – Smile by Nat King Cole

 

So smile more it is!

These two occurrences have led my thoughts to laughing. And how laughing automatically brings you into the present. I still firmly believe a good old fashion belly laugh is medicine of the best kind. I know I need more of this. Being told by one of my healthcare providers just yesterday I need to make sure I find time to do something that fills my cup once again brought light to my life…the dark corners I like to avoid. Running fills my cup but also empties it, she said. She is right. So what is it that I can do that will rejuvenate, balance, de-stress, make me a better me? I’m still actively pondering this. But I will admit, my initial thought is putting on my comfy pjs and watching my most favorite sitcom. And hey that might be it. Just slowing down, sitting down, and just simplifying.

……Although, it’d be nice to have someone rub my head too.

And…She…Let…Go

Read during shavasana last week….I hope it speaks to you like it did me.  Namaste.

 

She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

– Rev. Safire Rose

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.

Connection

During yoga today, the teacher read an excerpt at the beginning of class and then once again at the end of class. It resonated.

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” – Brene Brown

The search for the quote when I got home, led me to it’s original author and a talk she presented on vulnerability. It was lighthearted but thoughtful. It’s about being authentic, and true, and of course vulnerable. I think it’s worth watching maybe even more than once.

 

During this talk she spoke of courage which reminded me of a quote that also resonated with me on Instagram about a week ago. How ironic that she was the author of the quote as well?

Being able to tell all the chapters of my heart can lead to connection when the person they are presented to has the capacity to open the chapters, read the chapters, and love me all the same. And of course vice-versa.

Here’s to courage, vulnerability, and connection.

Gratitude

It’s been awhile, I know. While  much to say, I just couldn’t find the time to sit and write. But I have been processing…a lot. After four years of contemplating meeting with a counselor, I finally made the decision to talk with one. And she is perfect. Funny, she did ask me “So why are you here? You seem to have it all together?” My answer “Guilt. I don’t want to feel guilty anymore.”

With my meeting Ellen (that is my new counselor’s name), my runs, my now daily sun salutation practice, my now daily meditation practice, and my overall being a bit more present, I have found a new place inside of me. However small, it’s new. And one strong realization of this place, is that as much as I feel more present, and I am able to think clearer, I am still very aware of my avoidance of feeling. It’s a blocking actually. Surely, it’s a defense mechanism. It’s an unhappy place and reminiscent of my past. And I so don’t want to go back to that feeling.

Which brings me to the purpose of my post today…gratitude. In the words of my yoga teacher “Find something to be grateful for, we are all fortunate people,” I am doing just that. Every time she speaks these words, my mind immediately thinks of my two boys and my lips curve into a smile. Gratitude does not have to come from something momentous. Find it in the smallest of spaces – like a cup of hot chocolate or a vase of fresh wildflowers or a warm fuzzy blanket. So much surrounds us, so many itty-bitty miracles. The only thing preventing us from seeing them is ourselves.

So in no particular order, here are 10 tiny, itty-bitty parts of life that hold space in my tote bag of gratitude…..

My adirondack chairs that welcome pause…my handmade tea cup molded with my manager’s hands and so thoughtfully given to me…my Runner’s Magazine for all it’s inspirational stories and words of motivation…my camera to capture so many amazing moments that I can reflect upon…my new sneakers because they make me feel like I am running on clouds…my barn door because other than being exactly what I had wanted design wise, it was built just for me…my thieves oil for starting my mornings with a calming smell…mason jars for their versatility and simple beauty…the candle in the window I plug in every night as a small gesture for our soldiers…my hair elastic for just simply pulling my hair back.

What are you grateful for?

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?