Friday, August 31, 2012

Running Away: Part 3

So I have officially registered for the Austin half-marathon. It's far enough away that it seems like it will never get here, which means it will get here before I know it and I'll find myself freaking out, wondering why I ever agreed to do this to myself. But then I remember how it all began...

Let's go back about a month-

Me (IMing Bri): Too bad we don't live closer together. I've been wanting to get back into running.

Bri: I know! That would be awesome.

Me: Maybe we could meet up every once in awhile and run together.

Bri: I would love that.

Me: We should definitely do that.

Bri: We could also have a goal to work towards...

Me (thinking along the lines of a 5k): Yeah! I'd be up for that.

Bri: We could train for a half marathon!

Me: ... That sounds like many miles.

Bri: Yeah, 13.1

Me (thinking !!!!!!!): Oh, okay.

Bri: Wanna train for it?!

Me (not wanting to look like a wimp): Sure! Let's do it!

Bri: Awesome. I'll send you the link.

Me (whimpering inside): Yay, sounds great.

Aaand that's how I got involved in this half-marathon. Since then I've gotten seriously excited about it. Every time I run, half of me feels amazing, like this was the best idea in the world, and the other half of me takes note of my weak knee and is like, "Are you sure about this?"

Yes, I am sure. Like I've told Bri, I'm doing this whether I have to walk the whole thing, whether I come in dead last, or whether I have to cross the finish line on my knees (or on a stretcher). We're doing this together, and every mile will be dedicated to something we've had to overcome this past year. It's a testament to the fact that we don't give up, and we won't give up. We may cry, I may complain, but we won't quit.

Besides, this is turning into quite the family affair. My sister just decided to train with us, and I found out I have some other relatives running, too. Now if I just convince my dad (who runs religiously and even has one of those crazy winter running masks that makes you look like a burglar) to join... Dad, if you're reading this - join the race!

Anyway, I'll end this blog with my last running trip. I got up at dawn and ran with the sunrise yesterday, and it was one of the most beautiful mornings I've ever experienced. If I could always run in that condition, I'd be a happy camper. Well, a happy runner. Now if I can just get my knee to keep cooperating...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Running Away: Part Two

My alarm went off at 5:45am, and my first words went something like, "Uuuhhhhnnnnn.... Nooo..." And I went back to sleep for 5 more blissfull minutes. Then I dragged out of bed, got ready and walked outside to see a sky still full of stars. I said, "Oooh!" and then immediately registered that I felt queasy and my side hurt, like my body was already anticipating the imminent pain that was to come. I told my body to suck it up and went running anyway. As with most of my runs so far, it started out painful, but got better with each stride. It helped that I was running with a good friend who can amazingly keep up funny banter while she runs, whereas I'm still at the stage where I wheeze-breathe my way through the whole thing. But by the end of the run, I felt like I could have kept going which is a good sign. My left knee was unhappy with me, but the rest of me felt strong and energized. Not bad.

So now, my running enthusiast readers, can you give me any pointers for protecting/strengthening a weak knee during training? I hurt it 6 years ago (dislocated the knee cap), so it occassionally likes to complain when I run too long. I've gotten some tips already, like using a wrap, icing it if it swells, etc, but I'm open to more advice. My bum knee can't be the reason I don't do this race!

"My body tells me no, but I won't quit 'cause I want more." - Young the Giant

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Nestle, don't wrestle.

So, I think a lot. Now these thoughts aren't necessarily brilliant or even coherent, but they're there nonetheless, spinning about and making a ruckus at times. For someone with such a liberal arts, anti-math/logic type brain, I tend to analyze and re-analyze things. It's hard to turn off.

Most of the time, this thinking is good for the type of work I do. Other times it is tiresome and I wish I could venture into that foreign place that my guy friends call "the nothing box". You know, the place you go where your thoughts stop and you just zone out for awhile? Yeah, I've never experienced it either, but it sure sounds nice.

Awhile ago, I was talking with a good friend about my thought processes, and she said, "Well, you certainly know how to wrestle. Maybe it's time you nestle." I blinked a few times, "Do what now?" My genius friend went on to explain that I wrestle with problems, curiosities, and the like, going over them again and again hoping to make sense of them. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it just gives me a headache. "That's when you nestle," she said. "Quit wrestling with yourself."

Huh. She had a great point, a point that reminded me of some other advice given to me by a fellow counselor. He told me, "Brittany, you can't be in the problem and the solution at the same time. Stop thinking so much."

Now the first part of that advice was useful, whereas the second half seemed as absurd as telling me, "stop listening to music" or "hey, you know that breathing thing you do? Cut it out". That absurdity aside, the advice was quite good. I needed to let go of the swirling thoughts, step away from the stress and nestle...

...Which is how I found myself spending this weekend alternating laying in the sun and playing in the rain. When life amped up again this afternoon, I got swept up in the wrestling, and had to remind myself, "Hey! Go nestle." So after finishing my latest wrestling match, I threw on my running shoes and ran in the peaceful quiet of my dark neighborhood. I ran past deer, saw the 5 stars that are visible in the city sky, and let my thoughts slow down. And guess what happened after that? I actually found some clarity. Yay!

Balancing wrestling and nestling is an art that I'm still working on, but it is oh-so necessary. I'm very thankful for all the ways God gives us to nestle - prayer, fellowship, meditation, nature, reading - and hope to strike that balance between work and rest.

"Nestle, don't wrestle." Hmm... maybe I should get that stitched on a pillow. Or tattooed somewhere. Or put on a t-shirt? Bumper sticker? Oh, dangit. I'm doing it again. I think I'm going to go nestle in that great unconscious gift known as sleep. Buenas noches.

No one can get inner peace by pouncing on it. ~Harry Emerson

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Running Away: Part One

Today marks Day 1 of my half-marathon training. Yes, you read that correctly. Half-marathon training. Me, the girl who hasn't run more than a couple miles since track in 8th grade, is doing a half-marathon. I mean, I've worked out since 8th grade. I once boxed so long I almost fainted. And once I even hiked 11 miles (5.5 of which I wouldn't have hiked had I had another way of getting back to my car, but whatevs). But running 13.1 miles? Yeah freaking right.

Top Three Reasons Why I Shouldn't Do This:

1. My knees are weak. I once dislocated my knee cap three times. That was fun.

2. I'll have to train in the winter, a time when I walk around the house wrapped in an electric blanket and 3 layers of clothing. If they made footie pajamas for adults, I'd have several sets. But for this marathon, I'll be running outside sans electric blanket. Brrr....

3. It's going to hurt. And I might get sick running for 2 hours. And I might come in dead last and no one will be there to cheer me on and I'll look like a loser and then I'll have to get carted away in an ambulance because my heart implodes. Okay, that's really like 1 real reason and 5 irrational fears. Yikes.

Top Three Reasons Why I Should Do This:

1. Running encourages good brain chemistry. I need my serotonin.

2. Running clears my head and strengthens my heart. Since I need both of those organs in top shape, this is a good thing indeed.

3. Accomplishing this goal after the stuff I've gone through this year with one of my good friends will feel AWESOME. Like "hey, look I've climbed to the top of a mountain" awesome or even "I've defeated my worst fears and came out smiling" awesome.

So, I'm going to do it. I started my training today and ran for 15 minutes without stopping. I just have to do that 10 times over and I'll be set. It didn't suck as bad as I thought it would, and I actually feel pretty good right now.

We'll see where I am in a few months when my coach amps up the workouts... Bring it on!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Love is free.

Sometimes we walk away from love, be it romantic, platonic, or familial. We walk from it because the pain is too great, or because we feel enslaved by the other. Somehow by giving our heart to another person, we give them the power to hurt us, and this is dangerous because they so often do. So, we run.

This is no small reality; it can break connections that never should be broken, or it can break connections that should never have occurred in the first place. My question is, how do we love freely despite this?

I believe that true love is free. It is a gift freely given, with no expectation. No expectations! This seems to me a difficult, if not impossible, task. We spend our whole lives collecting expectations, consciously or not, and when they are not met, we get angry, hurt, disappointed, et cetera. I'm still trying to figure out how to love without expectation, and so far what I've discovered is that 1. it's hard, 2. it takes daily recommitment, and 3. it involves the oh-so-fun process of letting go. (Ah, letting go. Yet another task that we're supposed to know how to do without any specific instructions.)

Anyway, I also think that free love is given with the idea that the one being loved should have the freedom to be themselves, to make their own choices and mistakes, and to pursue their own heart's desire... Even if their heart's desire is not you or what you want for them.

Ouch, right? This is the fuel that makes people run from relationships because it just freaking hurts. If those we love don't meet our expectations, causing pain or disappointment, we may walk away to protect our hearts. I'm not saying this is always a bad thing to do. Sometimes the best way to love someone is to walk away from them. Sometimes we do have to force separation to save ourselves. I've done this myself.

But sometimes I wonder, what if we're not supposed to run every time? What if we let go of our expectations long enough to see that true love thrives without them? Who would still be in our lives?

If love is truly free, we must love without the expectation to be loved the same way in return. The point of love is not to receive, although that is the hope. The point of love is to love, even if we have to love from afar. Distance doesn't dilute its existence or purpose. Love has only the boundaries we place on it.

... Of course I could be totally wrong about this whole notion. I've got a lot of loving and learning to do.

"The success of love is in the loving - it is not in the result of loving.
Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done." - Mother Teresa

"And the person who loves wholeheartedly feels free." - Paulo Coehlo