The Indomitable Spirit of a Runner

I am compelled to put my thoughts down on “paper”. It has been many years since I have felt compelled to write. I have previously posted that my goal for this year is to run the Portland Marathon. I’m doing it. I have registered. And yesterday, I was scared. Today, I am determined.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great!” -Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own

One thing that I know to be true is that I previously hated running. To me, running was something that my crazy parents did. They would disappear for hours and come back sweaty, and focused, with crazy amounts of energy they expected me to have the same of.

I rejected running for many years because it was not something I ever wanted to do. I was a basketball player, softball player, and volleyball player. All team sports requiring intense and fast action. Short bursts of all out performance resulting in an jubilant win (or humbling loss).

After learning how to run, practicing long distances, conquering my fears, I too, am a runner.

I don’t know if you have anyone in your life that runs: whether it is a family member or a friend. If you do: you may think they are crazy, dedicated, insane, focused, or what have you. If you do not have anyone that you care for that is a runner, well, let me tell you a thing or two about runners.

For a marathon training plan that lasts 23 weeks I will need to put in over 100 hours in training. This is running two days a week and lifting weights three days a week. 100 + hours. On the road. Alone. My feet hitting the pavement. My breathing creating a pattern. My thoughts of defeat. The glory of overcoming my thoughts of defeat. All of it, is HARD. It is hard WORK. Yes, it is work. Why would anyone do this to themselves? Why am I doing this? Because running simulates real world experiences that I struggle with. Image

Say what? Yes, running simulates real world experiences that I struggle with. I experience social anxiety. I need to plan things in order to be comfortable with them. I experience anxiety in new situations. Running forces me to be equally impulsive and to equally value planning. Running puts me on the road for a set amount of time where I am faced with all the fear and anxiety. Running is the first activity that has ever challenged my intelligence along with fostering my tenacity. Yes, running is an intelligent activity. Not that you have to be smart to do it. Quite the contrary, you have to consciously (and actively) engage your frontal lobe (high level thinking) to overcome the cease and desist primal brain. The primal brain is what signals my body that I am done! Time to stop! Get off the road and GO HOME NOW! Digging deep within myself I pull upon reserves that challenges my primal brain. “Just one more mile.” “Keep digging in.” “Come on, you can do this!” “This pain you are feeling is nothing compared to the emotional pain of your past.” “Keep on keeping on.” “Just past the next sign.” “Just around the next corner, now past that mailbox.” I know that I won’t stop but my primal brain doesn’t. I get to actively practice the skills I need in order to overcome my daily struggles. Over a 100 hours of practice, fine tuning my coping abilities, humbling myself to not quite getting the time I wanted, submitting to the pain in order to breathe through it, these have all increased my quality of life over the last year. Image

And, I owe it to running.

Yesterday, when I heard of the bombing at the Boston Marathon, I was stunned. I was in disbelief that someone would do such a terrible thing. I was angry. Possibly that is what you felt as well. Today, I am reflecting on the 1972 Summer Olympics. This was a time in history when running was beginning to change. Steve Prefontaine was making running a household name, he was changing the face of athletes, and making a name for Oregon. Frank Shorter made history. He was the first American to win the Marathon event in 64 years. Things were happening, and running was becoming the sport to watch. September 5, 1972 was the day the Munich Massacre happened. On September 5th, 1972 athletes throughout the world mourned. The loss of athletes, coaches, and young men rocked the nation. Everyone was watching. Everyone was asking why. Everyone saw evil in action. Everyone felt the loss in the face of tradition. Just like April 15th, 2013.

Athletes train, and they push. They rise above obstacles. They overcome limitations. They dedicate themselves to their sport. I read a headline that said the event in Boston would change running forever. I challenge that! No. It won’t change running. Runners, wrestlers, coaches, athletes, and tv viewers have been here before. We have overcome once. We can overcome again.

We will each put in the hours required to conquer our sport. Just as you will put in the hours to support those you love who dedicate themselves to something. I will begin my training without fear of an evil act. For, in my practice of running, I will have already overcome anything worse. I will run the Portland Marathon.

I will hear Frank Shorter‘s voice urging me on, “run hard all the way, and make it hurt, and make it honest to be a worthy answer to the terrorist atrocities of a few days past.” 41 years after he spoke these words they still ring true.

Athletes: families: citizens, let us rise up and demonstrate the Indomitable Spirit of a Runner.

Fabulously Me!

Well here I am in what appears to be my last renew with the Guru. I do reserve the right to change my mind at any point, especially if I am feeling that I can’t do it alone. I still have so much to learn! Like what about counting calories, what are good carbs, how much protein do I need to eat, how do I know when to balance nuts as a snack versus apples? There is so much information that I had better start reading about it all.

Any good places to start? Have you read something that gave you some good knowledge? Let me know!

I am down to 143! Can I get a woo-hoo? I feel fabulous and I am beginning to know that I look fabulous! This last part is an added bonus. I believed that eventually I would look good but I didn’t know if I could last as long as it would take. Now, on to the nitty gritty:

October & November have SUCKED! My motivation is really decreased. Once I hit a size 10 (yeah, that’s right!) then my mind tried to convince me that I was fine where I was at. <Hey mind, I am not falling for your trickery> I haven’t been this small since 2004 and I was not healthy then. At all. I was a gaunt meth head who probably twitched ( I don’t recall this, but I am sure my family will attest to it). My husband loves my new look and I think this is one reason I began to think I could stop. If he loves it then why shouldn’t I? Well…let me tell you why.

I HAVE GOALS. I WANT TO RUN IN A MARATHON, I WANT TO HAVE ABS, I WANT PEOPLE TO BE INSPIRED BY THE CHANGES IN MY LIFE, I WANT PEOPLE TO stop THINKING THAT I AM EXPECTING, I WANT TO RUN A SUB 10 MILE, I WANT TO DO SPEED WORK, I WANT TO TRAIN ON HILLS, I WANT TO WALK INTO A GYM AND DEMAND LIFTING EQUALITY.

Self, we have goals. A size 10 is fabulous but a size 8 is even better. You can meet your goals and keep making new ones. You can be an inspiration. You can have abs (think Gretchen Bleiler here)! You can run a sub 10 mile. You can do speed work. You can train on hills. You will demand lifting equality. When all this seems unattainable: do not start with the trickery! Remember the example we are setting for our family. Remember how much you were hating yourself! Remember how far you have come and how much further you have to go.

Next year when I am sitting on the beach wearing a bikini I will look back and think about these struggles and I will remember how much my motivation waned. I will congratulate myself and I will run into the ocean splashing my husband along the way.