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    Peaceful Action, Open Heart - Thich Nhat Hanh*** Eat, Pray, Love*** Peaceful Living - Mary Mackenzie(daily reader)*** The Vein of Gold - Julia Cameron (this is a read a chapter a week type book)*** Dubliners - James Joyce*** Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring - Jean Watson*** The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Volume I***
  • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.
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Musings on a Second Half

Despite the paucity of blogging data to support it, I am still running. Last week, my confidence in my running was pretty shot. Well, really it has been since middle July. I started working at night – which has meant many bodily woes – too tired to run, 15 lb weight gain, change in routine. I generally just felt like garbage being slow-roasted in the sun for most of my runs through August.  I still run when I first wake up, but now that is in the evening, and when evening running I just hasn’t seemed to have the umph I did when running in the morning. Negative umph. Then to top it all off, 4 weeks before raceday, I sprained my ankle. Pretty significant crash (the booboo on my knee is still pink and scarred looking).  This meant that my training schedule was shot all to hell, and that my longest long run was 4 miles short of the 13 I had hoped for.

All this added together made me pretty much feel like a loser. I had wanted to really ramp up my speed and get my time to 2:30. I wanted to lose more weight and run smoother. I wanted to feel really confident going into this race. Been there, done that, easy peasy.

That is not the way it happened at all. I am heavier. I felt like I was running so much slower and less efficiently. My get up and go, well you know.

 I even considered backing out of the race. But dang it, my pride just wouldn’t let me do that. Plus I really wanted the nice shiny medal with bright and shiny girl runner charm that I could put on my necklace with the charm I bought for the last race. Pretties almost always get me motivated. That, and I didn’t want to accept defeat.

I felt really nervous about this race. Really nervous. The kind of nervous that I used to feel on the first day school as my mom was driving me in. Those days were also wrought with lots of “what if I can’ts and self-doubt).  I kept telling myself, and anyone who would listen, that I was just going to finish. It didn’t matter if it took me 4 hours. I was going to finish. I told myself that I was probably going to take longer than the first time, but it didn’t matter. The accomplishment would be finishing. Even if I walked the last 4 miles, as long as I finished, it would be success.

Deep down I didn’t believe any of that garbage. I felt like a loser. I envisioned myself floundering in pain at mile 10 and having to be carried off the road on a stretcher. Oh, the shame! I envisioned myself limping across the finish line at a crawl after 3 1/2 hours. Lots of visions, none of them very nice.

The morning of the race, the excitement I felt at the CMM wasn’t there. I was just nervous. I grabbed my requisite cup of coffee and headed out to my front porch for some serious prayer. “Help me  finish today. Help me feel good about this. Help me really believe that it is okay if I finish at 3 1/2 hours”. Then I did something which I had done before the April 1/2. I envisioned myself running this race joyfully, and joyfully crossing that finish line.

Now I won’t say that I went to the starting line with no qualms, but I got that sense of excitement back. I felt eager with only minimal qualms. Nowhere near  the level of first day of school, but still not a day at the park either. Just the right number of qualms.

Joyful is what I was. I felt good. The race felt very different. It was all women, with the exception of a few random guys…very few. The energy was great. There were  not so many people cheering at the sidelines…and I liked that too. The day was beautiful. I settled into a pace and I took my time. I tried to keep myself moving, but I walked when I needed to (which was predominantly going up some of those monster hills that downtown Nashville is notorious for). I didn’t even wear a watch, so I couldn’t even keep a good measure of my time. I am not much for mathematics in my head, so when I passed the mile signs with the clocks, it seemed like I was making pretty good time, but I felt certain that I would slow down and that was okay. At mile 12, the clock said 2:33. 2:33!!! Only 1 more mile left. I soared. Well, my heart did anyway. I walked long enough to text my hubby and cheering partner, because I knew he wouldn’t be at the finish line yet. I had told him at least 3 hours!

What the heck happened.??? I let go of expectations. I allowed myself to be in the moment, to just enjoy the process, and once again I was amazed by the results.

I crossed the finish line at 2:48. My official time was 2:46 minutes. 19 minutes better than my last half.

 I am just going to keep getting better.

Maybe I will run a whole next year.


double marathoning

Two major things happening in my life right now that are my “extracurricular” activities. Meaning, they have nothing to do with work or family and are just for the enrichment of my life. Funny how they both involve the word “marathon” – my “creative marathon” of which I have most recently been journaling about. And of course, the women’s half-marathon in September for which I am training. Marathon, by the way, is named such because this Greek runner messenger ran 26 miles to deliver his message of Victory at the village of “Marathon” and then fell over dead.

There is irony here because I am not trying to kill myself, but am rather trying to better myself. It can, however, feel at times as if it is indeed my death that I am plotting. Physically and emotionally. While I am feeling very successful….hmm, successful doesn’t accurately describe it…rather to say that I am very pleased with my painting efforts. I have even decided to keep one (mile #11 – the whimsical blue flower). My running efforts however, are feeling….well unsuccessful. Words like failure and inadequate come to mind. Very discouraging.

But I digress, as first I wanted to discuss my experience with my “book”-club the other day. We decided to do this creative marathon together and forgo books for the time being. We met last Sat to discuss our journey so far. They are very very talented women and their works thus far were very inspirational. I must admit, that prior to meeting with them, I was worried and feeling a bit self-conscious about my attempts at art…especially sharing the images with others doing the same thing. What if theirs were Better? Prettier?…Better?

What I found was that it didn’t matter. I wasn’t there to compare, and they weren’t either. I didn’t feel so self-conscious once we became engaged in sharing and discussing. I didn’t feel like comparing. I did learn a lot about myself. I was very delightfully surprised by their interpretations of the “miles” – the drawings we had been sent to work from. They were interpreting! You could see their individual spirit in each painting, and they were all beautiful…even when (maybe especially when) they wound up looking very different from the example.
I think my paintings stayed closest to the examples. I remembered how, as I was painting, I would try to paint my images a little different…but…**light bulb!!!***… I realized that I was very strictly adhering to “rules” that I created for myself. Those rules said I had to do it like the example and that I must follow the instructions. I gave myself only the tiniest bitsy bit of wiggle room to be a little “different”. Perhaps because I am not trusting my process. Not trusting that I could have original ideas or unique interpretations that can still be beautiful works of art. Not trusting that I have ability, that I do have an inner artist locked inside that really wants to get out. Only I keep hemming her in with rules and straight and narrow rows that she must follow in order to express herself at all. Rules that are about other people’s art, and not about my own.

Perhaps it was “fate” that this last mile didn’t give a concrete example. The instructions were to draw a “cave painting”. So I did. I did research some images that I wanted to use. And then I made up my own. It isn’t perfect. I wouldn’t hang it on a wall. But it is all mine. And I like it.

I intended to write more about my current struggle with running (yes I am running, but it seems harder than ever, I feel slower than ever, and my hip hurts). I don’t much feel like moaning about it any more. As I wrote the above, I realize that perhaps I am having the same problems with both marathons. I am trying to hard to fit into someone else’s mold. I run the way I run. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t fast. Its messy. And sometimes it hurts. But I am doing it.

Phenomenal things (including discovery of the armpit-hollow)

A lot of awesomeness is happening in my life right now and I am truly truly thankful and joyous. There are some rough edges here and there, but they are beginning to smooth out nicely. This new job, as with all new endeavors, has resulted in a retreat from blogging as I immersed myself in acclimating to my new role and especially new hours. Well, considering that I only slept 3 hours last night (off day), the switch back to nights is likely going to take a considerable amount of time to adjust fully. But in the meantime, I am beginning to feel a little less brain benumbed and able to focus on other things (like blogging) once again.

One of the phenomenal things that I am going to start this Friday is Creatively Fit Marathon. NO, it has nothing to do with running….although I think it will gel very nicely with my actual running training for my next 1/2 marathon in September. This “marathon” is all about painting. 26 paintings or “miles”. It is supposed to be a highly transformative process and I plan to blog about my journey along the way. (gosh, saying that makes me cringe a little bit, as it seems that every time I say I plan to blog about something, it kind of goes by the wayside….time to be different and do what I intend!!!)

Another phenomenal thing I just discovered is that I have an armpit hollow. This is how your armpit hollows when you hold your arm a certain way and there are muscles and tendons on either side of the hollow. The armpit actually recesses a little bit. I hope this is making sense, as I am not sure how to describe it clearly, and it is such an important discovery. You see, I have never ever had an arm pit hollow. Well, surely I did as a small child…but not in my memory anyway. Before, I just had, well fat, filling up the space. This new hollow  is most exciting, and speaks to a level of fitness and healthy changes in my body that I have never experienced before. Armpit hollow. So simple and yet it is bringing me so much joy today. I discovered it quite by accident in the shower when I went to shave the pit today. I had just finished weedeating and my arms felt like limp noodles so I opted to shave my pits in a very lazy fashion that didn’t require raising of the noodle that was my arm and I propped it instead on the little scallopy thingy that protrudes from the inside of the shower for just such a need. When I went to shave, there it was! A hollow!! Amazing.

Lots of other phenomenal things to write about (like my awesome new job and the fact that I finally ran a 10 minute mile [10:05 actually])….but I think I shall stop here, heed the growling of my stomach and go eat some phenomenal Indian food with my phenomenal husband. Life is good.

My First 1/2 Marathon

Okay, so I am going to try to get a start on how very behind I am on posting about this major event in my life. Everything  was happening so quickly, that I really didn’t have the time to savor the experience and to ponder the depths of meaning of this experience for me. Literally the week before I wrapped up one months worth of work into one jam-packed final week. The day after was packing to go to Turkey and tying up loose ends and then I flew to Turkey for a month. Lots of exciting wonderful things, but I fear that what happened is that the momentousness of this particular day got swept away in a lot of hurry and flurry.

So, My First 1/2 Marathon. I say first, because I fully intend to run another in a few months. I want this one to be the first of many.

Anyway, back to my experience of the day. My husband went with me to the starting line, and there we met up with a friend of mine, who also has been running for weight loss, though this was not her first 1/2. The energy that morning was indescribable.  There were so many people…I knew the numbers, but that was very different from the reality of the mass of people on and around Centennial Park. I was so excited and nervous that I wanted to hurry up and get started, but at the same time, I wanted to slow everything down as it was all happening too fast. I got in my corral, which was pretty far back, and it felt amazing. I was standing there with all these athletic looking people, and then all these other people that didn’t look so different from me…and we were about to embark on this amazing journey together. It just felt good. I could see my husband waiting out in the sidelines, cheering me on, and that felt good too. I realize now that support and cheering on was so important to me because I had never had that before. Never been involved in any sort of “competition” (though the only person here I was competing with was myself) like this and knew that someone was out there rooting for me. That I was supported. On an aside, I was also a little greatly encouraged by the bystanders along the way who had signs cheering on various people running. I was encouraged and I must admit,  I was also a little envious of those runners. This was such a BIG DEAL for me, and those people really got what a big deal it was for their loved ones and were out there supporting themt. I wanted that outpouring of support from my loved ones and throughout the race, I received it somewhat vicariously through these strangers. They got it, this was important.

Back to the race. Much of the race is a blur now. I paced myself and ran pretty slowly, but I ran for most of the race. I only walked when I was getting water, because I find it impossible to run with water in my hand without just throwing it all over myself. I also find it impossible to gulp down water without serious side splits later. 

 I found it humorous how I stayed with about the same runners the whole time. They seemed to run fast for a while, and would pass me..and then spend a good bit of time walking, and I would pass them. I almost felt like I knew these people as we went back and forth, and I made up little ideas in my head about why they were running and what their personalities were like. I felt a sense of camaraderie with everyone (well almost, there was the ugly lady who pushed me, but I am not going to focus on the one negative experience).

A few images stick out in my head. One is running across Wedgewood, we were on 12th or one of those numbered streets. The angle of the road was just right so that it seemed I could see miles ahead of me and there were all these people. All these souls running toward a common goal. We were all different in many ways, and yet here we were together…and I felt part of something big.  What a boost. 

Which brings me to another memory,. I caught up with this guy, older guy of indeterminate age who just looked like a Vietnam Vet. Kind of grizzley and in fair shape. Here he was, jogging along and carrying this very heavy looking flag pole with an American flag. Now if I just saw this guy out and about, I would have put a lot of labels on in mentally, and some of them wouldn’t have been very nice. But here he was, dedicated as I, but with adifferent twist, and friendly as all get out. It was touching.

Another image, also on 12 avenue, but near all the shops and little quaint houses in the 12South neighborhood. There were all these parents with their kids cheering us on. The kids would want to high-five you as you passed and gave the most excited cheers. But what sticks out in my mind were the wide-eyed stares of the babies. Watching all the people go by and seeming mildly amused by it all.

It seemed that the first 5 miles went by pretty quickly. I always seemed to miss the mile markers, so spent most of the time not knowing how far I had gone, which was probably for the best. The last two miles were pretty tough. I hadn’t prepared for hills, didn’t really realize how hilly the course was until a few weeks before the race, and by then it was too late. So my hips and upper thighs were feeling pretty strained when we finally looped back through downtown and started getting closer to the finish. The last 1/2 mile it started raining , and it felt amazing. Here I was, downtown running up a killer hill and here was this cool refreshing rain (that didn’t feel so great when i was finished and trying to get out of there, but that is another negative story), that felt like a god-send.  The rain mingled with my tears twice there at the end. Once was during a song: “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence. I hadn’t listened to that song in years and had on a whim, put it on my playlist the night before. When I last listened to it regularly, I was having a very difficult time – with my weight as always, and with my self-esteem. Here I was, very very much alive, and doing something I never dreamed possible. I always felt like this song was talking to God (although in the song I think there is actually a different focus, but that is what the song meant to me) and here it felt like God was saying to me, “I did it, I answered your prayer. See where you are?, how alive you are?”
The other tearful spot was of course at the finish line. I did it. Just me. It felt amazing then, and still now.

Meaningful Gifts

This weekend I received a surprise package in the mail from a dear friend. I immediately surmised that it was something about my upcoming half-marathon and I felt so touched and loved. This friend really gets how important this race is to me. Maybe it is because she has run several halfs herself. Maybe it is because she has been with me and supported me through this weight-loss/body-image journey of mine, and she knows how monumental this is for me. Whatever the case, I felt like crying as I opened her lovingly packaged gift. Inside were “a few race-day essentials” and a card with a loving note. The outside merely read “13.1”. What a statement! The “race-day essentials” included a few packages of GU, a stick of Body Glide and a athletic Nike cap. Her message to me was of love and support, and said much more than the supportive words on the card. It reminded me that this is a BFD! I think I have been suppressing my excitement and wonder about the fact that I HAVE run FOURTEEN miles and I am going to run in a major race: A HALF-MARATHON! This achievement goes beyond the physical. It shatters so many barriers that I had built to define myself. It is enabling me to find new words to define me: words like athlete, runner, and others. It encourages me to look at other words I have used to limit myself (like “fat”, “lazy” “weak” ) and to challenge them. It also gives me the courage to branch out in other areas of my life where fear and limited self-definitions have held me back.

I think I have been supressing my wonder and excitedment a little because I don’t want to come across as bragging. And I think that people around me probably are a little tired of me talking about my running. I don’t mean it as bragging. I am in amazement at myself. Sometimes I think I need to tell others, to say it out loud so that I believe it myself. My dear friend’s package to me was more than just love and support, it was also a gift of affirmation. Girl, this is a BFD, and it is okay to be proud of myself AND excited about the race!

. Drew from Fleet Feet suggested that on race day I do nothing new. Good advice. So I am off now for a short run to try out my new cap and the body glide (most excited about that stuff – been using vasoline, which is quite gooey). Thanks dear friend.

Closer to 13.1

I am having a severe case of general life-suckiness right now, so in an effort not to focus on what is bringing me down, I am going to ramble a bit about a very good thing in my life right now: my running.

This weekend I ran 12 miles! Felt fabulous….well mostly. Actually I thought I had run 13. I am running around a beautiful one-mile loop at Centennial Park and I usually keep up with loops by a combination of counting and keeping time. However, I forgot my watch, so though I had counted 13 miles, when I got back to my car to check my time, I was about 12 minutes under what I expected. So, albeit it could have been 13 miles if I was really rocking it out (which it did NOT feel like), I am thinking it was probably 12.

Digressing. So after this run my feet were really killing me. Perhaps that is to be expected, but it felt like bones were cracking in my feet, and my hips felt pretty lousy as well. I have obstinately been sticking to wearing my non-running shoes because I love love love Earth shoes so so much. I have felt like they have done wonders to correct my high arch – which in the past has caused me a lot of pain (gone now wearing these shoes). Earth doesn’t however, have a designated running shoe, so I have tried out several different pairs of their sneakers, most recently a walking shoe that is super comfortable…but perhaps not so good for a long run.

After running the 12 on Sat I came home to hubby and said “thinks you are right” and we headed to Fleet Feet Nashville (which is actually in Brentwood, but anyway) to have my little tootsies fitted/tested and all that. I have been told that this is a must if you are going to run…but sometimes it takes me a while to listen. The staff at Fleet Feet were awesome. Drew was tremendously helpful – watching me run and putting some dreamy shoes on my feet. He confirmed that I do have high-arches (still, even though they are better I think, thank you Earth shoes) and that I under-pronate when I run. Fancy way of saying that my feet turn slightly inwards. I knew that too. He first put me in a pair of super soft Nikes that made me feel like I was walking on a cloud of air. Next we tried several other pairs, stability being the key ingredient that apparently my Earth shoes are lacking. I finally settled on a beautiful (and spensive, ouch) pair of Brooks that make me feel like a rockstar…or a running star. I have now run 9 miles total in these new  shoesies and I am feeling pretty good about them. They do change the way I run, and I do feel more supported. My feet feel a little lighter. I can also feel the difference in stability. Drew also gave me some great tips about my stride and how my feet are striking (vs how they should strike) when I run, as well as some great 1/2 marathon tips. I will totally be back to see him when I need my next pair.

I even was so bold to buy a new bumper sticker there. Its pink and says “runner girl”. Yep, thats me. Who’da thunk it?

Continued careening cogitations

I have been in a flurry since my last post. I have tried to think of other words to describe my state of mind, but flurry just says it all. So many changes happening right now. The day after my last post, we decided firmly to sell our home. Well, I guess we had already made the decision, but we chose a realtor and set a date. April 1st.  Yes folks, that is just mere days away. So I really should be shampooing carpets instead of blogging, but I just had to get a few words down. There is just SO much involved in selling. So much to get ready and prepare. For the past week the house has looked like a tornado swept through, but ever so slowly things are starting to become organized and look better than the place has ever looked (well except for the ripped up tile in the kitchen, but that will be resolved soon hopefully).

In addition to the above stressors (and starting to think about where we are going to move when we leave here because we don’t have the slightest clue), I have been looking and interviewing for new jobs and still training for the 1/2 marathon. So as you can imagine, there is much more to talk about then I even begin to have time for.

The biggest, well maybe most distressing, thing that is on my mind is the very real possibility that I may take a night-shift position again. The mere fact that I am even contemplating it is boggling my mind. My first thoughts when thinking about returning to the graveyard shift, are thoughts of despair. Ugh, can I really put myself through that again, emotionally and physically? Obviously there are a lot of negatives to returning to nights, but in this case the positives heavily outweigh the negatives (even though those negatives pack a major punch). I think the money will be great. I will have scheduling flexibility so I can go back to work on my doctorate AND the organization will pay for said degree. Additionally it will be going back to work in a familiar environment – just in a different capacity. That in itself is a positive – but also carries some heavy and possibly negative punch: I will be supervising people who used to be peers, some of whom have personalities that are….well lets just say…intense.

And the damn rain today is preventing me from my long run. dammit.