It’s the holiday season. As much as joy and cheer define these few weeks, busy might be a better description. We’ve rushed to get the Christmas tree while trying to slow down and enjoy the process of picking it out. We rushed to hang the lights and the ornaments while trying to savor the time we made to decorate it as a family. This weekend started the holiday celebrations for our family. Cole will be with his dad in Nashville this year, so we are rushing to celebrate with him before he leaves but also doing our best to really grab hold of the holiday spirit.
This Saturday our agenda was full. Included on the list: a 15 mile run, a swim meet, cleaning, cooking, and celebrating Christmas with my Grandpa, parents, siblings and nieces. We were hosting the celebration at our house.
As the sun rose, I rushed out the door. I had planned on leaving before sun rise, but after a scary phone call from Cole’s school on Friday (a white van has been spotted in our neighborhood trying to give rides to middle school kids) I couldn’t make myself leave the house while it was dark. I wanted to feel safe even if it was a false sense of security. Leaving later meant I needed to hustle. Cole had a swim meet at noon. I rushed out the door and did my best to settle into my run.
15 miles. I broke the run up into three 5-milers. The first five miles felt sluggish. I could feel the pressure to finish my run so I could get home and really start the day. My feet hurt (I’m running in minimalist shoes. I think I need a pair with more support now that miles are getting longer). My knee ached (I blame the shoes). It felt weird to be running on a Saturday morning since all my most recent weekend runs have been rearranged based on family needs. I quietly ran and didn’t see one face for miles. The second set of five miles felt much more comfortable. I’d relaxed into my run. Cruise control had kicked in. My watched beeped for Mile 10 as soon as I hit a turn around point and was ready for the final stretch of just getting home. Mile 10 was the only mile where I felt like I was really struggling. At mile 11, I knew I’d pass my in-laws street. From there, I just wanted to get home and run strong.
15 miles on my neighborhood streets passed marshes, passed houses decorated for the holidays, and down sleepy street after sleepy street. The neighborhood was asleep yesterday. I saw only a handful of faces on my run. The sun, even though it was waking up the earth, never fully shined from behind the clouds. It was a quiet run. It was a peaceful run. And at some point during those 15 miles, it hit me. In a few months, I will run a marathon. When you run 15 miles by yourself before the world wakes up and without any music in your ear, there is a lot of time to think – or to not think. I often find myself processing thoughts or emotions only to realize I left the thought and emotion behind me at the last mile marker. I love the quiet. I love that no matter what is going on I always can find that peaceful place where there are no more thoughts to think.
15 miles. 2:38:27 (10:35 pace) …or 15.49 miles if you use my endomondo.
As soon as I got home, the rushing began again. Rushing to take an ice bath. Rushing to get cleaned up. Rushing to eat. Rushing to get to Cole’s swim. Slowing down to enjoy the swim meet. Rushing home to clean. Rushing to cook. Slowing down to enjoy our Larson family Christmas.
While I am still busy rushing to squeeze in the last bit of Christmas between now and next Saturday, I’m doing my best to create the peace that I find while I’m running. I can rush through the planning details, but I want to slow down through the process. I want to find the quiet while I share our Christmas morning with Cole and Chet. I want to find the peacefulness as we bake cookies. Perhaps this is why I crave long distance runs. Ten miles isn’t enough anymore. I want to use the first half of my run to think and the second half of my run to just be. And perhaps this is why the holidays always make me anxious. It’s too much “go” and too little “just be”. Stretching it out over a week has made it much more peaceful.
I’m hoping I can find the balance: Rushing now so I can slow down for what really matters. Rushing through what needs to get done so I can enjoy the important stuff.
At the end of the long fulfilling Saturday, Cole curled up on the couch next to me and read to me from one of his new books. Perfect ending to a perfect day.