Whole Hearted.

“I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from.” — Lisa Bu

Over coffee last week, my running coach and I redefined my relationship with running. We chose a new lense for my view of my training plan. I want to run. I need to run. I love to run. But every time I have put on my running shoes lately, I wonder if my run will be a success. I cross my fingers and hope that it turns out to be a good run. Every time I put on my running shoes lately, I feel a little broken.

For the past two years, I have used running to repair the broken things in my life. After having Chet, I used running as a way to reclaim my identity. After I went back to a job I didn’t love, I used running as a way to fix a long work day. After my father-in-law and my aunt passed away, I used running to heal my broken heart. When marriage hits a rough spot, I use running to heal my frustration. When the boys become too much, I use running to fix my sanity. Running has always fixed my broken spots.

As my life heals itself, running has become the broken piece. It’s time to heal my relationship with running.

The only way to heal what is broken is to highlight and enhance all the aspects that I love.

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Last Thursday, my first run back after my stitches were removed, I joined two friends near and dear to my heart for an evening boardwalk run. We ran our favorite route – over the Rudee Inlet bridge straight into the crowd of tourists on the boardwalk. When our feet hit the boardwalk, it felt like the start of summer. We haven’t done this in two years! Three miles into the run, we made a happy hour pit stop for orange crushes and lots of girl talk. The run back to the car was filled with laughter and happiness.

On Sunday, I headed out for my long run. I headed to my favorite running route. I left my garmin at home. I just ran. I ran the Cape Henry Trail into our State Park to some of my favorite back trails. It’s been a while since my running shoes had real trails underneath them. I ran up and down sand downs. I ran alongside water. I skipped over tree roots. I don’t know how far I ran or how fast, but when my feet finally hit pavement again I felt like I was flying.

As I ran down the trails, trails that have held so many of my tears and so much of my laughter, I felt myself picking up all the pieces I had left scattered over the years. I ran these trails, the day the world said goodbye to my aunt. In the middle of a winter storm advisor, I found my refuge in the tree-lined path. On these trails, I spent an entire summer running with my friend Heidi as we both tried to figure out how to be new moms again. Every time I ran with a broken heart down these trails, I left some of myself behind. Every time I ran filled with hope, I left some of myself behind.

Sunday’s run was a declaration. Sunday’s run put an end to broken running. Sunday’s run reclaimed my favorite place.

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There was no stop button to hit when I got back to my car so the run continued. My heart was filled to the brim, and it followed me home.

Last week’s run and all my runs going forward need to be a reflection of my life right now. I’m bring my heart, my whole heart, back to my running. Life is constantly changing. There will be more phases of heart ache, but right now, my whole heart needs a chance to shine. My whole heart needs a chance to run.

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A Seed.

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonder.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

As I opened the cover of my newest book to read, From the Ground Up by Jeanne Nolan, this quote jumped off the page. I knew I had just discovered a wonderful new book.  It has floated around in my head. It’s words have settled somewhere deep inside me. This quote seems to perfectly frame this stage of my life. I am 33 years old and deeply rooted to the life that I have created, yet I feel like I’m just beginning to sprout. I’m just beginning to stand tall, to stretch out, to reach towards to sun, and to grow.

This past Sunday, I ran 14 miles. I was running solo. I started late. I was starving. I was well on my way to learning more “what not to do before a long run” lessons.  The first 5.5 miles were along the ocean with a brutal head wind. The next 4 miles were along a very muddy trail. The miles back to the car had me clenching my stomach because of hunger pains. When I got back to my car, I felt slightly defeated by the run.

I got some food in my stomach. I showered and changed into my comfortable post-run clothes. I updated my coach on my run. He called my run a success, so I moved on. It was just one of those runs that wasn’t great, wasn’t fabulous, but really wasn’t all that bad. I put in check in the box for my long run on Sunday.

My husband was out-of-town all weekend, so there was no time for rest after the run on Sunday. I was up and down the stairs, chasing Chet back and forth, chatting nonstop with Cole, and in and out of the house. It was busy which kept my head busy. There wasn’t any time to upload runs, analyze mile times, or overthink why 14 miles felt so hard.  There was only time to put a check in the box and to move forward.

“Plants grow best, I had learned, in loose, well-aerated, nutrient dense soil: The thin, filament-like roots of most planets can extend at least this far, and every extra inch of root extension in air-rich soil allows a plant to take in more nutrients.” ~ Jeanne Nolan

Before you think I’ve lost my mind in the marathon training process or perhaps my life process, let me explain. I believe that I am just another living being on our planet. My life and the life of all living things are so closely intertwined and dependent upon each other. A plant, an animal, and all living things all need the same things to thrive. We need nutrients, air, and the warmth from the sunshine. We need breath.  I have a seed inside me that wants to bloom. I know what it will grow into with proper care and I know it’s running that makes me feel alive.

If I want to feel alive, if I want my running seed to blossom, I also need loose, well-aerated, nutrient soil. I need to stay light in my heart and in my head. I need to relax and find my breath in each run. I need to support my seed and my body with the right nutrient dense soil.

This marathon training cycle has brought so many doubts to the surface. I’ve considered dropping back to the half marathon. I’ve considered waiting until Spring. I’ve considered waiting until my weekly mileage base is stronger and more established. When I take a step back, I know the root of these doubts is coming from a place of not meeting a self-imposed goal. I want a sub 4 hour marathon. I may not have that in me yet, but that is not a reason to step back. This marathon, whether I run it in 3:55 or 4:15, is part of the blooming process. If I can keep my head and my heart light, the strength I have inside me and in my legs can take over.

A garden doesn’t grow over night. Seeds don’t blossom into established plants while you’re sleeping. A tree doesn’t become a wonder of nature for many, many years. My 14 mile run may not have been spectacular on Sunday, but it showed me that I can survive the elements. The wind and the mud didn’t break my spirit. This training cycle and the Richmond Marathon aren’t about reaching my peak. It is about growing, breathing and finding the warmth I need to thrive.

Two years ago, when I started this blog, I wrote down my life mission. I wanted to be rooted to my life. My roots grow deeper every single day. Now it’s time to grow from the roots I’ve established from myself. The sky is truly the limit.

Columbine flower along the trail on our Utah Honeymoon

Columbine flower along the trail on our Utah Honeymoon

Sunday’s Run:

14 miles in 2:11:24

9:22, 9:32, 9:29, 9:30, 9:03, 9:36, 9:52, 10:10, 9:22, 9:05, 9:03, 9:25, 9:39, 9:49