Tag Archives: half marathon

Nothing

“We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing.  We worry too much.  We don’t allow our bodies to heal, and we don’t allow our minds and hearts to heal.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

So, I’ve recently discovered something about myself.

I don’t do enough of Nothing.

(Hush up, grammar police, that was NOT a double negative.  I capitalized Nothing, so therefore it becomes a something.  See?  Seeeee?  Ok, now if you will let me continue….)

I have always been someone who is continuously on the go.  Sometimes by choice, sometimes not.  My life is one of constant movement.  I have a job that is over an hour’s drive (one way) from my home, so work alone keeps me on the move for much of the day.  Then, in the few hours that I have remaining of the day, I spend my time trying to squeeze in picking up one child from dance, one from cross-country practice, and even…(gasp!) making time for my own activities.  I know, right?  A mom with her own activities?  Trust me, I know how unheard of that is.  I have gotten the lecture from strangers and family alike.  I get it.

But that’s a blog for another day.

The point is this – I’m busy.  And I like it that way.

Well, until I don’t anymore.

Lately, I’ve been noticing that I’m not handling stress well.  It’s like I’m in constant “chaos” mode.  Whenever anything negative happens – no matter how small said something may be – my brain signals the “catastrophe” alarm.  All hands on deck!  Snap to attention!  This problem MUST be solved. Now!  It’s HUGE.  The world itself will stop spinning on its axis if this problem is not attended to RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND.  Even if said problem is…oh, say maybe I’ve run out of milk at the house?  MY CHILDREN ARE GOING TO STARVE, PEOPLE!!  Milk must be procured IMMEDIATELY!

Good grief, I’m tired just reading that paragraph.

As a friend of mine posted on Facebook recently:

mess

Yeah.  That.

I think it’s finally starting to catch up to me.  So, I’ve made a conscious decision to stop.

Yep.  That’s it.  Just stop.

Now, I’m not going to stop everything of course.  Some of the things I do can’t be stopped.  (There would be some angry, hungry teenagers sitting outside dance studios and cross-country tracks if that were the case.)  And some things I do, I don’t want to stop.  My hobbies are more than just “hobbies” really.  They define me.  I’m a writer – so yes,  I want to keep writing.  I’m an actor, I want to keep acting.  I’m a runner, I’m going to keep running (I’m even training for my second half marathon right now).

But here’s the difference….

I’m going to chill out a little bit.  Or rather, I should say, I’m going to allow myself to chill out a little bit.

I have started to cut back quite a bit on my blogging.  If you’re a regular follower and you’ve noticed, please allow me to apologize.  (Oh, and if this fictitious regular follower person exists, let me extend my deepest gratitude for reading my stuff so often that you actually noticed I was gone.  How cool are you!?)  Being a writer, I never really stop writing exactly.  Phrases and ideas are constantly going through my head.  And when they do, I write them down somewhere.  But the difference now is that I’m not in such a hurry to get to a computer (or a notebook – yep, I still handwrite things sometimes, can you believe that!?) and put those words and phrases into a story or blog entry.  They’ll still be there when I’m ready – when I have time.  There’s no deadline.  There’s no need to push myself to the point of exhaustion to keep up with some imaginary quota that I’ve invented in my head.  That’s ridiculous.

As for acting – I mentioned in a previous blog that it’s time to take a break.  Auditions came and went for the next show at my theatre and I didn’t attend.  That alone was a source of pride for me – I was actually taking a stand for my own sanity and health and forcing myself to rest a little.

But then something happened that made me really have to put my money where my mouth is.  I received a message asking me to consider a role.

Whoa.  Ok, now that’s different.

I didn’t even go to auditions…I did what I said I was going to do, right?  I stuck to my guns and tried to take a break. But to be asked to play a role?  How flattering, right?  Acting is what I do.  And this role – man, it sounds perfect for me.  Right up my alley.  It would be ok to accept it just this once and rest later, right?

Nope.

I politely declined and thanked them for the consideration.  Wow.  I turned down a role.  I can honestly say that as an actor, this was a first for me.  Acting is so important to me – I would jump at any chance I got to play a role like this in the past.  But now?   Well.  Right now I’m tired.  Bone tired.  I don’t want to see something I love turn to something that I feel like I have to do.  I just can’t let that happen.  There will be other shows.  When I’m ready.

Now, as for running….yes, I know I just mentioned that I’m training for my next half marathon.  I know what you’re thinking.  That’s not “stopping,” right?  What the heck is up with that??  I thought this chick said she was going to chill out.  How is training for a half marathon chilling out?  Well, you’re right.  It’s not.  Not really, anyway.  But see – this is something that I really want.  Yes, it’s hard work, but the feeling I get when I finish a run – no matter how slow the run happened to be or if I met any ‘goals’ or not – is one that is hard to beat.  It is a relaxation in itself.  It’s a purging of all that’s wrong with the world.  If you’re a runner, I know you know what I mean.  Before a run, you can be weighted down with all the worries you can possibly carry – and then after the run, you feel lighter.  You feel free.  I need that right now.  I need to create a better me.  A calmer me.  A more controlled me.

A me I can live with.

Yesterday, my daughter and I were sitting in the living room at home.  The errands were done, homework finished, work and school day complete – and there we were.  Just sitting.  I looked over at her and said, “Is there something we’re forgetting?”  She replied, “What do you mean?” and I said, “Well, I just feel like there’s something we should be doing.”  Her response?  “I guess it’s all done.”

“I guess it’s all done.”

Yeah.

At that moment, I’m sure there were other things that could have been done.  I could have went over my sad budget one more time.  I could have washed another load of clothes.  I could have exercised, I could have laid out my clothes for the next day, I could have forced myself to start on my next blog.  But I didn’t do any of that.  At that moment, sitting in my living room in the silence with my daughter, it really was “all done.”  Everything else would be there when it was time.  But for right then, I allowed myself to bask in the nothingness.

There’s an Italian phrase that comes to mind: dolce far niente.  This means, the sweetness of doing nothing.

And it was perfection.

Time to start creating more moments like that in my life.

More dolce far niente?  Why, yes, thank you.  Don’t mind if I do.

***

The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of room, not try to be or do anything whatever.”
– May Sarton

Advertisements

Happy Badges

So, I’ve decided to give this whole ‘running’ thing a go again.  I haven’t officially signed up for it, but there’s a half marathon in November that is calling my name.  Eventually (maybe next year?) I want to work my way up to a full marathon, but I’m not quite ready to think of that just yet.  So, for now, another half it is.

Next week, my 10-week half marathon training plan will officially start, but I decided to head out on a 4-mile run yesterday to start prepping myself for the longer distances.  (Lately, with my time constraints I’ve only been able to work in 2 and 3 mile runs, and those have been few and far between, to be quite honest.)  And even though this run was only 4 miles – not even a third of what I’m signing up for – this thing seriously kicked my butt!  I had to stop and walk a few times, and maybe even got a tad frustrated with myself at times (shhhh… Miss Positive Pants here can’t admit that, right?  Pretend you didn’t hear that.)

So, when my run/walk/curse fest was complete, I hit the ‘save’ button on my MapMyRun software that tracks my routes and times, and I noticed a new option pop up.  I saw this:

happybadge6

Hmmmm.  Rate my run, huh?  Ok, let’s see what my options are.

First up, was this one:

happybadge5

Finished with a Smile.”  HA!  Well, I suppose we can mark that one off the list.  NEXT!

happybadge4

Crushed my Goal.”  Hmmmm.  Well, I suppose if my goal had been to survive, then I could choose this one.  Barely.  But, alas, it wasn’t.  My true goal was actually to run 4 miles without stopping.  And that didn’t pan out so well.  Well, poo.

Next.

happybadge3

Kicked Butt.”  Aha!  Ok, now we’re talking!  Check!

Oh, wait.

Crap.  I think this is saying that I kicked butt with the run.  Shoot.  My bad.  I thought it was saying the run kicked MY butt.  I thought I finally had one I could choose here.  *Sigh*

Back to the drawing board….

happybadge2

Took it Easy.”  Hmmmm.  We’re getting warmer.  Ok, I guess I could choose this one.  But that would be a lie.  Because I didn’t really take it easy.  Yes, I walked some.  But it wasn’t because it was my intention.  It was because I was mad at myself and I was tired.  And I sure didn’t “take it easy” on myself, that’s for sure.  So….  Close, but no cigar.  Looks like there’s only one option left.

Here we go….

happybadge1

Grew Strong.” Ok, what?  That’s it??  No matter how much I jammed my finger across the screen on my smartphone, the stupid thing wouldn’t scroll anymore to the right for more options.  Seriously, that’s all I’ve got to choose from?

Oh.

They’re called “Happy Badges.”  Somehow I missed that at the beginning of the instructions.  “Pick Your Happy Badge.”

Ha!  Happy Badge?  Really?  I was miserable.  I was lazy.  I was out of shape; out of breath; out of patience.  How the heck am I supposed to pick a happy badge?

And that’s when it dawned on me.

Everything that happens in your life – everything – whether it’s running related or not, falls into one of these categories.

Think about it.

I mean, yeah, it would be great if we could always pick those first four options.  Crushing goals, kicking butt, and finishing with a smile are always good things.  And sometimes you’re not going to get the absolute best results because you chose to “take it easy.”  Nothing wrong with that, right?  A life filled with those first four options would be fantastic.  Perfect, even.

But unfortunately….  Yeah.  Unfortunately, things don’t end up that way all of the time.

And that’s ok.  Because you know why?

Sometimes that fifth option is necessary.

If life weren’t filled with things that make you stronger – failures, disappointments, life lessons – I don’t think we’d ever have the opportunity to pick those other options at all.  How could you feel the thrill of finishing with a smile or kicking butt if you hadn’t worked through the tough parts to get there?  Where would be the sense of pride in crushing a goal if you had never known those times where you fell short, and had the courage and perseverance to get up and try again?

You see what I’m getting at here?

So, no.  No goals were crushed this time.  No butts were kicked other than my own.  But did I grow strong?  You darn right I did.  I got my butt up off the couch and I started the process that is going to lead me to another half marathon, and that will eventually lead me to a full marathon one day, and that will ultimately lead me to where I’ve been headed all along.

A place where I am proud of myself.

‘Grew Strong’ happy badge?  Don’t mind if I do.

“Check!”

***

“The race does not always go  to the swift, but to the ones who keep running.”
 -Anonymous

34

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.”
– Voltaire

Today, August 1, 2013, is the last day that I will ever be 34 years old.

As you get older, birthdays don’t seem to hold the same significance that they did when you were younger. Have you noticed that? You don’t really “look forward” to them anymore. In fact, at some point, they become something that you even somewhat dread. (Another year older!? Really??) But I have decided that, starting this year, I’m going to put a stop to that nonsense.

As I prepare to turn the page to 35, I’m going to take a moment to look back over the year I was 34. The good, the bad – everything notable that took place during my time on this earth as a 34-year-old. Each year holds special moments that are gone in the blink of an eye – moments that we will never get back and can only be relived through memories. They should be cherished and appreciated and yes, even celebrated – the bad, along with the good. But most important of all, they should be noticed.  For these are the moments that make us who we are – the moments that shape and mold us into the awesome, unique individuals that comprise humanity, and that give each of us our own story to tell.

So, here’s mine.

Please join me as I look back over the 34 most notable events of my 34th year (in no particular order):

1. I started a blog.  I had toyed with the idea for years, but I finally got up the courage to do it this year.  And it has been AMAZING!  If you’re reading this, you’re one of the reasons why.  I’m blown away by how many people read this thing and by all the responses I have gotten from it.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

2. I got my first writing award (and check!).  I got up the nerve to enter a local writing contest and was shocked to get a letter in the mail saying that I had won first place in the essay category.  Woohoo!
checkpic

3. I got my first rejection letter. Yep.  A real-life “your stuff isn’t what we’re looking for” letter.  And you know what?  I actually thought it was kind of cool.  Really.  You’re not a real writer until you get a rejection.  Initiation complete.

4. I saw Niagara Falls.  And it was AWESOME!
388893_3851669933053_1593858915_n

5. I saw my first marathon.  A group of us traveled to New York for the Wineglass Marathon.  Many in the group were running the marathon, some running the half marathon, and some, like myself, were just there to watch.  There was NOTHING like it.  One of my favorite running-related quotes of all time: “If you lose faith in humanity, go watch a marathon.” – Kathrine Switzer.  There is so much truth to that.  The feeling of camaraderie and “oneness” between the runners and spectators alike was something that I don’t even know how to put into words.  This was definitely one of the highlights of my 34th year, hands down.
285151_3844595996209_18568332_n

6. I ran a 5K in New York, and got my personal best time of 30:55.  The day before the marathon, there was a 5k as part of the festivities surrounding the event.  I decided to run it in, and ended up getting my best personal 5K time.  My boyfriend captured this picture at the very moment that I looked up and saw the time clock at the finish line.  I just love it.  The picture says it all.  It was nice to feel so proud of myself.
255410_3844597916257_182634293_n

7. My son joined the cross country team at school.  This was such great news to me.  I was so proud of him, and felt like my running had made an influence on that decision.  Since joining the team, he has gone on to race in a few races with me, and place in many of them (including a 3rd place overall finish for one of them!).  I’m such a proud mom.
jefftrack

8. I ran my first 10k.  Shortly after returning from the New York trip, I knew that I couldn’t stop at 5Ks.  It was time to start training for longer distances.  My first 10K was a trail run, and I ran it with my son.  I wasn’t fast, but I was very proud.  And it was the first time that the thought entered my mind that I might even be able to go further than that.  Which brings me to #9..

9. I ran my first half-marathon.   Wow.  All of my hard work paid off and I crossed that finish line with possibly more pride in myself than I had ever felt before.  Not too shabby for a 34-year-old, if I don’t say so myself.
racecollage4
(Here’s the blog entry about the half marathon if you’d like to read more: https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/05/04/i-did-it/)

10. I watched my boyfriend Richard be inducted as the Master of the Ashe Masonic Lodge #594.  This was actually very, very cool.  I had never seen anything like this ceremony (I’m a chick – we’re not allowed, ya know), and I admit that I went into it thinking that the rituals and secrecy were somewhat silly.  But I came away with a deeper understanding of how much this fellowship means to those men, and what good, kind, noble men each and every one of them are.  I was so incredibly proud to be Richard’s girlfriend that day.  I won’t forget it anytime soon.
Master Mason Ceremony

11. I started attending a new church. My boyfriend and I, along with our kids, have started attending Bethany United Methodist Church.  It has been nice to feel like a part of a church family again.  I needed that.

12. I moved. I finally took the plunge and moved out of a place that I was unhappy at.  It has made all the difference in the world.  It’s such a great feeling to actually look forward to going home for a change.  Definitely a noteworthy event from my 34th year.

13. We lost our pet, Chicago.  Little Chicago was something else.  While just a kitten, my daughter found him in an old trash can outside our home.  He had been hurt badly (we still don’t know by what – or whom), and could not move his hind legs.  Kelly carried him around like a baby for weeks, feeding him milk from a tiny measuring spoon and giving him little kitty pain pills that an animal-loving friend of ours had provided.  I just knew the little guy wasn’t going to make it, but alas – he surprised us all.  He was with us for four years.  I pretended like I didn’t like the little guy (he had THE MOST annoying meow in the world), but I feel his loss more than I ever thought I would have.  We miss you, annoying little Chicago.  You were loved.
chicago

14. I saw my grandma turn 83. Such a spry, spunky little Grandma she is too.
IMG_20130721_184315_126

15. I lost another grandparent. My grandpa, Paul Pridemore (who we all referred to as “Mr. P.”) passed away during my 34th year.  Mr. P. lived a long, happy, healthy 96 years on this earth and will be missed by everyone who knew him.  I’ll bet he wasn’t the type to dread another birthday.  He served as a good example to live life to the fullest while we’re here.  I hope I’ll live to make him proud.
421622_10200172984750150_828719165_n

16. I ran the path that my other grandpa, Greene Halsey, had walked to school.  This is something that I had wanted to do for a long time, and finally did it during my 34th year.  I’ll post the link to the blog if you’d like to read more about it.  I was very proud to have finally done this.   https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/uphill-both-ways/

17. I sang in public for the first time (sort of).  Ok, so technically, I had done this before in musicals.  And at karaoke.  But getting up and singing with my boyfriend at one of his gigs was SO nerve-wracking.  I couldn’t believe I had the courage to get up there.  It was hard – and I was shaking like a leaf – but I did it.  And have done it a few more times since.  Definitely a noteworthy moment from age 34.
735146_4318994015863_1974010880_n

18. I lost Richard. Definitely not one of the happiest moments of age 34, but noteworthy nonetheless.  Richard and I split up for 2 months.  We both tried to move on, but we found our way back (thank God).  I think we both grew up more during those 2 months than we had in a long time.  Sometimes you just have to travel alone for a while (whether you want to or not) to find out what’s really important.  And I definitely found out what was important.  Him.  I’m so glad he’s back.

19. I witnessed two little miraclesI saw the tiniest babies I had ever seen in my life – and they belonged to my sister.  Her twins were born 10 weeks too early.  Not many things have affected my life like seeing those tiny little healthy human beings.  I’m so amazed at the technology that we have now that allowed for these two to survive.

Here they were then:
twins

And here they are now:
twins2
(Again, if you’d like to check out the blog post about these little angels, here’s the link: https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/week-old-miracles/)

If the 33-year-old Melissa didn’t believe in miracles, this 34-year-old Melissa sure as heck does.

20. I was the subject of a blog. My boyfriend and I were interviewed for a very public blog that was read by tons of people.  How cool is that?!  Definitely the first time that has ever happened.  I was famous for a day!

Links:  (Here’s the link to the actual blog: http://www.8womendream.com/55851/improve-womens-self-esteem / And here’s the link to my own blog post about the blog: https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/self-image-part-2/)

21. I was on TV. Yep.  My first TV appearance.  I was interviewed for an art segment of a local channel regarding the role I was playing in an upcoming production.  Awesomeness.  Another first occurring in year 34.  (blog link: https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/fear/)

22. I starred in my first lead female role with Ashe County Little Theatre.  I was so proud to have been cast as Mother in the show Life With Father.  It took me a long time to become a part of this theatre, and this was such a monumental moment for me.  I will remember it always.  (Plus, my boyfriend’s son Riley got to play as one of my sons. Added bonus.)
150470_4735269062479_550350894_n

23. My daughter starred in her first lead role ever.  I have been involved in theatre for pretty much my whole life, but I never knew the meaning of “nervous” until I felt what I felt just before the curtain rose on opening night of Annie.  Watching my baby girl stepping on to the stage in the title role was beyond anything I’ve ever felt before.  I was so incredibly proud of her.  Not only for her ability, but for her poise and humility throughout the production.  This kid is going to go places.  Mark my word.
print8
(Related blog post: https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/tomorrow/)

24. Lost a friend.  Although I don’t count this as one of the highlights of my 34th year, I had a falling out with a very close friend.  Looking back, I’m not so sure the problem was worth ending a friendship over (is it ever?), but it happened nonetheless.  And it should be noted in this list.  Perhaps I can come back with an update in year 35 that this has been mended?  Perhaps.  Either way.  Friendship lost – duly noted on the list – moving along…

25. Mended a friendship.  While we’re on the topic, I might as well mention that I regained a friend in my 34th year.  This is a story that I hope to tell in a future blog, but for now, I’ll just say that it’s nice to have found my old friend again.  And to know all is well.  Everything always works out ok in the end, right?  Chris, I’m glad you’re back.
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

26. Ran my first obstacle race. The Warrior Dash.  *sigh*  I don’t even have the energy to talk about this one anymore.  If you want to read about it, I’ll post the link.  You probably don’t though.  It was NOT the best experience.  But good or bad, it made the “34” list, so I guess it was notable.
warriordashpic3
(Blog link: https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/warrior-dash-or-as-i-like-to-call-it-hell/)

27. Richard and I introduced each other to the fam. That’s a big deal.  We were each thrown into the big, loud, happy mix at each other’s family get-togethers over the holidays, and then in a few events (some sad, some happy) since then.  Nothing makes you feel like a “real” couple more than getting included in the family (dis)functions. 😉
382139_540268712652980_1785226771_n

28. We took our first ‘family’ trip to the beach.  Richard’s family has this super cool tradition that spans the years (starting even before he was born) of all getting together to go to Myrtle Beach once a year.  It’s a glorified family reunion, if you will.  And this year, my kids and I were included.  And that’s awesome.  It meant so much to me to be included in something so special, and is definitely noteworthy in my 34 list.
1009771_10200346858776892_1300652980_n

29. Made it through a cancer scare. I was a basket case during the fall of my 34th year.  We found a lump on my son’s neck that wouldn’t go away.  17 years ago, the same thing had happened to me when I was just a few years older than he was.  And I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  After excruciating weeks of waiting and worrying, a surgery was finally scheduled to remove the lump from his neck and have it tested.  And – thank God – it was benign.  There is no worry like that of a mother for her child.  I gained a new appreciation and understanding for my own mother through this ordeal, and I hope to never have to go through anything like it again.
111612075620

30. Got a standing ovation – mid-show.  Now, THAT was cool.  Of course, I was playing Elvis (sort of).  And I sang Heartbreak Hotel.  And I looked like this:
543807_4352012561306_365026006_n
But still.  Standing ovations mid-show just don’t happen.  That was definitely one for the 34 list.  Hands down.

31. Went to an AWESOME wedding. Now, you know if a wedding made the list, it must have kicked butt.  Well…it did.  That was the most fun I have had in a while.  It was theatre-themed and full of people I love – how could you go wrong?  I even blogged about it. (https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/completion/)
melissa2
Thanks Jim & Rebecca for giving us these memories to cherish.

32. Visited the house Richard lived in when he was born.  We took a little detour on the way back while we were in New York for the marathon, and swung by to take a look at the house that Richard lived in for the first six months of his life.  It was the first time he had seen it since.  That was a pretty cool moment.  Very sentimental.  I was proud to be able to tag along for that moment.  That was a good “age 34” memory.
155251_4689990732439_1359561351_n

33. 4-mile Abingdon race with my son.  Now, why did this make my list?  Sure, I’ve run plenty of races by now – and quite a few of them with my son.  But there was just something about this one.  Most notably, when my son finished the race (well ahead of me, of course), he turned around and came back on the track to find me, and finished with me.  It would be pretty difficult to leave that moment off of the top 34 list.  Have I mentioned that I’m a proud momma??  (Blog post: https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/favorite-race-so-far/)
raceblog3jeff

And finally.  We’ve reached #34.  I saved what I felt was the most notable event for last.  (And incidentally, if you’ve made it this far – I’m impressed.)

34. I was in a car accident.  In April of my 34th year, I was in a pretty bad car accident.  I totaled my car but, miraculously, walked away with only a few scratches.  You don’t come away from something like that without some sort of “indention” on your life.  It leaves a mark.  The only thing that remained intact from my accident, besides myself, was my drivers side mirror.  I found the mirror at the accident site days later, and took it home as a reminder.  True to my word (as I mentioned in a blog post shortly after –  https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/reflection/), I keep this mirror beside my bed on my nightstand.  I feel like it serves a reminder that I’m still here.  I’m still here.  Life didn’t stop at 34.  And there’s probably a reason for that.

And I fully intend to spend the rest of my time here on earth figuring out exactly what that is.

891739_4792287767911_1087211727_o

So, thank you.  Thank you, reader, for taking this trip down memory lane with me.  You know – you would think that it would be hard to come up with 34 things over a year that were notable, wouldn’t you?  But I actually found myself having to weed some out. Isn’t that crazy?  It’s amazing how much you realize actually happens in your world when you sit down and take the time to pull each event out and shine a light of remembrance on it.  We should do this more often, shouldn’t we?

Goodbye, 34.  You were awesome.

Hello, 35.  You ready?  We’ve got a lot of work to do. Let’s get started.

***

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
Oprah Winfrey

Burnout

“Take a rest.  A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
– Ovid

I just remembered something.

I’m a runner.

Did you remember that?  Because I didn’t.  I’m tellin’ ya – I seriously think I forgot about that for a while.

I have these little ‘categories’ set up on my blog.  Not sure if anyone ever notices that you can search for writings under the categories, but I thought it was a cool option when I was designing this thing, so I went with it.  I set up four categories – Freestyle Writings, Poetic Musings, Running, and Songs.  When I first started out, I was afraid that the “running” category would be jam packed, and that my readers who were non-runners would be bored senseless.  I was at the peak of my running ‘career’ at that point – training my tail off for my first half-marathon (which I successfully completed in May, by the way).  I was full of wit and wisdom for new runners and amateur runners like myself – hoping to show everyone that anyone can do this running thing and that you just have to push through and believe in yourself and persevere through the obstacles…..yada yada.  So on and so forth.

But then – well, I don’t know.

I just kinda just stopped that.

I just clicked on my own “Running” tab to see the last thing I had written about running.  It was this:  https://missyspublicjunk.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/time-to-chill/  Oh.  An article called “Time to Chill.”  Well, that explains it.

At that time, I was all prepared to purchase this t-shirt and hang up my running shoes:

runningsucks

Yep.  I was done for a while.

In other words, I had been….

running-on-empty

Hehe.  Get it?  Running on empty?  Oh, the wit.

But I digress.

So, yeah.  I had achieved what many of us have achieved in many different areas of our lives at some point.   Anytime you’re passionate about something; you spend all your time doing said something; you dedicate your heart and soul and spirit to the something – there exists the risk of running into that little devil who is always waiting just around the corner to put a stop to it all.  What is this little devil, you ask?

Burnout.

“Burnout is nature’s way of telling you, you’ve been going through the motions – your soul has departed; you’re a zombie, a member of the walking dead, a sleepwalker.”
– Sam Keen

That’s just it.  I had become a sleepwalker.

So, you know what I did?  I took a break.  And I think that’s the smartest thing I could have done for myself.

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that I’ve started feeling the pull again.  I started with a few short runs – a mile or two here and there.  And slowly, I find myself inching my way back up.  A 4-miler here.  A 5-miler there.  And yesterday – I did my own little 10K just to prove I could.  Little by little,  I’m making my way back.  I saw a post yesterday for a 7-mile run up and down a mountain road here locally.  Hmmmm.  I have two months to train….

My point is this.  Burnout is real.  No matter how much you love something, no matter how much a part of your life it becomes, overdoing it can be problematic.  It really can.  It’s ok to take a break.  You know?  Chill out a little bit.  Let things settle.  Let yourself remember why you love this thing so much and why you ever started it in the first place.

Are you a runner?  Well, there.  Apply this lesson literally.  But if you’re not?  Well then, I’m sure there’s something you can apply it to.

Maybe even someone?  Now, there’s some food for thought.

But see, here’s the thing.  When you want it bad enough, when it has become a part of you, it won’t disappear.  I promise.  Taking a break is not going to un-do any progress you made.  This thing you love is not going to go away.  Not when it’s real.

Rest easy.  Stop worrying.  It will be back.  You’ll see.

***

“”Sometimes in sports there are times when it is best to wait for another day and try again, at least for me. I see life as the race and I see no honor in reaching the finish and passing out or crawling across the finishing line. In Costa Rica, we have a saying: It’s not about being the first to finish, it’s about how you get there.”
-Roman Urbina

Time to Chill

takeabreak

I’m about to do something that I have never done so far in my “career” as a runner.

I’m backing out of a race.

I was scheduled to run the Bear in July.  For those who missed my blog about it, this is a 5-mile race straight up a mountain.  When I signed up for this thing back in February, I knew it was going to be quite a challenge.  I was prepared to put in the training and do what it took to be able to run this bear of a race and be able to say that I did it.  Nothing was going to stop me.

Well.  February was four months ago.  A lot has happened since then.

I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses.  But frankly, I am.  Since February, I have

  • trained for and ran a half marathon.  (Go me!)
  • My daughter has been cast as the lead in a local theatre production (and I have been cast as a chorus member), which means the theatre is our second home.  It takes a great deal of our time and attention.
  • I have made the decision to move into a new home and have had to tackle the stresses that come along with any move.
  • I have hurt my foot in some phantom way (no clue how it happened – but it’s definitely getting better!), which has slowed my running down a great deal.

Oh, I could keep listing things, but honestly, it doesn’t matter.  Because basically?

Well.  Basically, I’m just tired.

I’ve noticed that ever since my half marathon has been over, my thoughts keep going back to this dreaded Bear race in July.  It has been a constant worry in the back of my mind.  Through everything else I’m doing in my life, there’s the undercurrent of, “I should be training for the Bear.  I should be training for the Bear. I should be training for the Bear.”  To be quite honest, it has become a nuisance.  So, after some soul searching, I have decided to back out of the race.

For a while, I struggled with that decision.  I called myself a quitter.  Told myself that, whether I realize it or not, other people are watching me through this process because of my blog articles and my Facebook posts.  By quitting, I am sending a message to my readers that giving up is ok.  That running is not the awesome thing that it is and that you shouldn’t push yourself to try bigger and better things.  I didn’t want this to be the message I conveyed.

But finally, I just decided to stop beating myself up.

I decided to look at it a different way.

Here’s what I want this decision to show you.  No one is perfect.  NO ONE.  If you’re a beginner runner (or maybe even just someone thinking about running), I know how intimidating it is to see these “experienced” runners do all the things they’re doing – the half marathons, the 5Ks, the 10Ks, the mountain-climbs.  Believe me, I know.  I was you just a little over a year ago.  I didn’t think that these runners were human.  I thought they weren’t like me – they didn’t have life stresses that get in the way, or days when they just felt too tired to run.  They were machines, not a flawed, tired human being like me.  Well, guess what?  I was wrong.  They were just like me.  And I’m just like you.  We all need a break sometimes.  We all need to go easy on ourselves and not push ourselves to the brink of exhaustion.

I mean, after all, when it ceases to be fun – then what’s the point?

I enjoy running.  I enjoy appreciating the new, healthier person that I have become because of it.  Nothing will ever stop me from being a runner.  But for a little while, I think I might hold off on pushing myself to the next limit.  I’m just going to enjoy where I am now, maybe enter a few local 5Ks here and there, and just relax for a while.  No pressure, no training, no pushing – just running.

I’m taking a little break from the stress.

And that’s perfectly okay.

***

“It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. We have a better chance of seeing where we are when we stop trying to get somewhere else. We can enjoy every moment of movement, as long as where we are is as good as where we’d like to be. That’s not to say that you need to be satisfied  forever with where you are today. But you need to honor what you’ve accomplished, rather than thinking of what’s left to be done.”
– John Bingham

Now what?

nowwhat

Ok.  The half marathon is over.  I have officially achieved the goal that has been in the back of my mind ever since I started running about a year ago.  I put in the training.  I put in the sweat.  I put in the fear and worry.  And now here I am.  I did it.  I’m a half marathoner!

Sigh.

Now what the heck do I do with myself??

I’m telling you, I was barely home from the race before I was doing an online search to try to find another one.  This girl is hooked!  Now that I’ve felt that euphoric feeling at the finish line, I want to feel it again and again and again.  And I don’t just mean more half marathons.  Yep, that’s right.  I’m even looking into a full marathon.  If I can do a half, I can do a full, right?  Let’s do this!  I’m stoked!

But……I have to be patient.

Sigh.  The biggest dirty word in my vocabulary, and it starts with a “P.”  Patience.  Blech.

I have oftentimes made reference to how running and relationships have a lot in common.  Especially for me.  And I think this is going to be another good example.  (And, as I’ve discovered since I’ve started blogging…this will probably ring true for a lot of you as well.  I’ve never been more aware of how alike we all really are until I started this blog and got so much feedback from all of you about how you’ve identified with so many of the things I’ve said.  Isn’t it nice to know we’re all in this together?)

So, I have often felt myself feeling this same feeling of euphoria at times during a relationship.  You have a good night out together…a sweet, tender moment…a milestone of some sort, and suddenly, you start to get a little ahead of yourself.

“Look how well we look in that picture…we are PERFECT for each other!”

“Look what a good weekend we had…I want to spend every waking moment with him/her!”

“Look how much we enjoy being together…we should get married!”

Whoaaaa now.

I’m not the only one who has been guilty of these thoughts, and I know it.  I have female friends.  I’ve heard them echoed from them as well.  Why the heck do we do that?  Why do we get in such a hurry to push past the happy moments of “now” into what we think will be the happier moments of “tomorrow”?

Chill!

Ya know?  Just chill.

Bask in the moment.  Enjoy it for a while.  Enjoy this stage and celebrate this victory, this success, and don’t be in such a hurry to get to the next stage.  Because you know something about that next stage?  That next stage is hard.  Getting to this point you’re at now wasn’t all that easy, remember?  There were tough times where you thought you wouldn’t make it.  Obstacles that almost stopped you.  Outside influences that almost kept you from your goal.  Am I talking about running or relationships here?  What’s the difference really?  Whether we’re talking about sore muscles and sweat in training, or awkward misunderstandings and arguments with dating, this same thing stands true.  Each phase takes work.  Hard work.  And yes, the end result is rewarding and it is worth it.  It’s wonderful.  But there are no shortcuts.

None.

So, rather than being in such a hurry to jump to the next phase, maybe it’s ok to hang out here for a while.  The next phase will be there when you’re ready.  In fact, the more time you decide to wait to start that next phase, the more prepared you’ll be.

And the more prepared you are, the more glorious the result.

***

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
Beverly Sills

I did it!

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
– T.S. Eliot

racecollage7

Well, it’s official.  I’m a half marathoner.

And let me tell ya…it was HARD!  This course was definitely no walk in the park.  (Ok, admittedly there was some walking, but there was NO park. I swear.)

I really am so proud of myself.  Somewhere deep inside of me, I truly wondered if I could do it.  During my long training runs, my legs were so heavy and so weak.  I never made it up to a full 13.1-mile run in training (11 was my furthest), so I was so scared that I might not actually be able to make it that far.  Especially on this extremely tough course.  It helped me though to see quotes like the one by marathoner Alberto Salazar:  “I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.”  Made me feel less alone.  Made me realize that what I was feeling was what most everyone feels or had felt at some point in their running process.  Even elite marathoners.

But, alas, I did it.  I made it!

And here’s a short list of awesome things from the race:

  • I made a running buddy along the course.  He was an older man from the Winston-Salem, NC area.  Silly me – I didn’t even ask his name. Nor did he ask mine.  But we leap-frogged each other throughout the race.  Kept each other company at times.  Chit-chatted about our jobs, our families, etc.  It was nice running a half-marathon and having a conversation every so often.
  • I saw a shirt that said “Slow and steady, my ass! This is my top speed!”  That made me giggle.
  • I saw a shirt that said “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1).”  That made me smile.
  • I saw my friend Kelly who broke her foot during training for this race, out there running anyway after only having been out of her cast for about 2 or 3 weeks now.  I was in awe.
  • I got “I love you” and “You got this!” texts from the man I love during the race. Priceless.
  • I got “Run Forrest Run!” texts from my coworker during the race.  Sigh.
  • I got close to the finish feeling like I might not make it, and rounded a curve and saw my boyfriend Richard’s friends (ok, my friends) standing on the side to cheer me on – the same people who I cheered on during their half marathons and marathons in New York last year. That made me cry.
  • I got to the finish line and saw Richard and my son Jeffrey waiting for me (after their own 5K race) with smiles and cheers.  And saw my son (who never ever EVER remembers or cares to take a picture of anything) poised with his camera waiting to snap a picture of me crossing the finish line.
  • I got this from my boyfriend as a post-race gift:

meshirt

The shirt says “13.1 wuz worth it.”  And yes, it was.  Awesome gift.  Awesome man.  Lucky girl.

And probably my favorite moment from the race:

  • My son’s dad called him to see how the race went.  And without missing a beat, Jeffrey immediately began telling him my finishing time and details from the half marathon.  Momentarily forgetting that he himself had just finished second in his age group in his own 5K and won an award for it.  Talk about a proud mom.  That definitely started the waterworks flowing, and I’m not sure he even realized what he had done.  In fact, I’m sure he didn’t.  Feeling my son’s pride in me was like nothing else.

I know there are a million more things I could list that I loved about this race.  But those are the highlights.  Point is – this was a beautiful experience that I won’t soon be forgetting.

So, in honor of all that I have overcome in training for this race, and in life in general – two divorces, two bouts with cancer, a bad car accident during training, a breakup at the beginning of training (which ended up in a glorious reconciliation mid-training), and just a general past filled with doubt and uncertainty about myself and my abilities – this race is for you.

I can do anything.

And so can you.

***

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
-John Bingham