Life is back in full swing. The boys are in school. Work is back on a Monday – Friday routine. It’s a new year with the same schedule, same responsibilities, and same life. Except it feels different. It is never the change of the calander that causes me to reflect. It is the ebb and flow of the seasons. It’s the cycle of the moon. Life always seems to follow their rhythm regardless of what the calander says and my routine dictates.
We are making our way towards light. Between now and June, we will see more sun. Although we are currently in the midst of hibernation, we are preparing for the hot days of summer.
I’m not like most. Summer leaves me depressed. Winter is when I come alive. Even if January 1, 2017 feels the exact same as December 31, 2016, it is an opportunity to take a inventory of life. Where am I? Where do I want to be?
This year I’ve held on to more anxiety than I’d like. My nervous system never seems to take a break. I’m alive and frantic or I’m sitting in a sad solitude. This isn’t my norm. Winter is my season. In winter I thrive. I feel alive and calm.
As I start writing 2017 on all my work correspondences, I’m taking inventory. What layers of my life have caused this pulse of anxiety.
Instead of running errands on my lunch break today, I’ve decided to pause. It’s a gorgeous winter day. The air is brisk. The sky is full of fog. Rain (and maybe snow) is in the forecast. I’ve bundled myself up on my lunch break. I need air. Fresh air. Cold air. The air that settles my nerves and blankets me with peace.
With chilled hands, I’ve doodled. I’m making a visual mental inventory. What is at the center of my world? What is my priority?
Add a layer. Create a ripple.
What comes next? Outside of the very heart of who I am, what is next?
Add a layer. Create a ripple.
And next? Another ripple. And next? Another ripple. Until my life feels both alive and relaxed. That center of my world, that’s where I need to throw my rock. It’s what needs my attention. It’s why my heart whispers Let me Mother. Let that be my ripple.
When you throw your rock, your energy, at the right place, your life will become filled with all the right ripples. Throw your rock in the wrong direction, and the things you love get washed out and pushes away.
I needed this exercise today. I needed this moment with my notebook and my words in the weather that is made for me to continue to ebb and flow with life.
It’s a new year. I need to make sure I’m throwing my rock in the right direction.
It’s race week. The lead up to this race has had its own story to tell just like every other race except this one feels different. This one belongs only to me.
With a brand new blank slate to write my own story, I’ve been left with only my wants, my passion, my desire and my fears. It’s been a tug-of-war battle between all the voices in my head.
With five days until race day, today may forever be marked as the day I wrote the draft for the next phase of my life. Of all days, today should be the day.
At 7:13 this morning the sun rose. At 7:13 tonight the sun will set. Today is the day that my tiny piece of the world is perfectly balanced. To celebrate, I went for a run. Three easy miles down a favorite trail and up and over a bridge that’s crosses the point where the Chesapeake bay meets the waterways inland. I was surrounded by beauty and balance. The trail is becoming green as spring makes itself know to our coastal city.
Today is the day that there is equal amounts of light and dark. Tomorrow the light takes over.
The run felt fluid. My legs felt strong.
After my run, I indulged in a lunch date with two powerhouse ladies. We discussed race plans and dreams. We shared fears and life stories. During the three hour lunch, my brain ran circles around possibilities. This race is different than any other race I’ve run for one simple reason.
Running has always healed me. It’s always pieced me back together. Every single time I’ve run shamrock, I was piecing myself back together.
2010 – the year I ran to prove I was capable
2011 – the year I cheered from the sidelines with a stress fracture
2012 – the year I ran to prove I could be more than a newborn mom
2013 – the year I ran my first marathon with a grieving heart (cancer sucks!)
2014 – the year I ran to prove I could come back from injury
2015 – the year I ran to fall in love with racing again
I always perceived myself to be broken.
2016 is different. 2016 is the year I write my own story. This blank slate is giving me the opportunity to launch myself down whatever path I choose. There is no heartache to overcome. There is nothing to heal, fix or piece together. I am whole.
All I have to do on race day is show up, silence the fears in my head, and run myself to finish line. Every year I’ve ran broken and got to the finished feeling healed. This year I’m showing up to the finish line whole, and I will finish the race whole.
This year I’m giving myself permission to be unbreakable.
“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.
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 dunes. 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.
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.
“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.