Friday, February 28, 2014

The Reason I'm Not Running

I haven't gone for a long run in a very long while. I haven't gone on any short runs either. It has to have been weeks now since I hit the pavement. For a runner, weeks without running feels like a very long time. Yet, I just can't make myself do it. 

One reason for this is that I have been extremely busy. I finally had to admit that there were more important things in life than me getting in my miles. What is more important?  One word: Family. 

The thing I've never shared with you on this blog is that my mother-in-law has been very, very sick for many years. She moved in with my husband and I almost three years ago (just about a month after he and I moved in together).  In that time, we have faced varying levels of health. We've gone through numerous life threatening and life saving surgeries. We've endured radiation, hourly IV medication regimens, and experimental drug treatments.  We've spent countless hours in doctors offices, at physical therapist facilities, and visiting with wound care specialists. My mother-in-law transitioned  through various levels of physical capability, from nearly independent to completely and totally dependent on us. Through it all, it was always the three of us in it together and my husband and I were her daily caregivers. 

If I'm going to be honest, it was my husband who did the vast majority of caregiving. For one, towards the end, I wasn't physically able to aide her the way she needed.  Two, she trusted him more. And, if I really, really have to be honest here, and I really, really don't want to be, but if I have to be, I was more selfish than he. He was always ready and willing to give her anything she needed. 

Something you should know about my husband is that he is his mother's only child. The two of them moved to Texas together when he was seven and she raised him alone in Houston from then on. The bond these two share is palpable. Sure, we wives tend to complain about our mother-in-laws and cringe at the phrase "momma's boy," but the truth is, my husband never would have been the amazing man that I married if it hadn't been for his mother. Being a witness to the care he provided her in the end will be a memory I will always treasure. If I ever have a child, I can only pray that they would love me and provide for me half as well as my husband did his mother. 

My mother-in-law passed away in our home almost a week ago. She died with her son by her side and I know she felt his love as she went. 

Now what does all of this have to do with me not running?  It's not just the fact that the last few weeks were spent trying to be by her side as much as possible. There is more to it than that. I've mentioned many times before what running is to me. Running is my opportunity to escape and be alone with and process my feelings. Running allows me to really take the time to think about and feel about the world around me. And what I've realized is that I'm not ready to do that. 

Since her passing, we've been consumed with all of the details that come with death (let me tell you, there are a lot). In a way, all of these details have been a blessing. They have allowed me to move through the last six days occupied by more than my grief. But, I know that total, complete, and devastating grief is waiting just below the surface. I know that once I strap on the shoes and let running strip away the surface layers, I'm going to be hit square in the face with some serious grief. I'm just not ready for that yet. 

I'm not ready to feel the loss and the sadness. I'm not ready to process all of the regrets I have (there are many and they have been clawing their way into my conscious for a while now). People are so kind and often tell me how lucky she was to have me as a daughter-in-law, but the truth is, I wasn't great. I could have been better and knowing that there isn't another chance to be better is hard to face. And our house is lonely. It has been so quiet and noticeably empty the last few days. I just can't quite face all of this yet. I'm not ready. I will though. I know one day in the not so distant future, something inside of me is going to whisper, "you're ready."  And I will be. When I'm ready, I will lace up and I will set out for a nice long run. And I know I will have one more person watching over me and cheering me on as I go. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Forgive Me

Hello all (aka my few friends and mom who read this blog). Please forgive me, but I'm going to be absent for a little while. You may have guessed, but I'm really trying to work through some stuff right now and between the sleepless nights and crazy busy days, my writing has taken a backseat. 

I promise I will make it through this path ahead of me and I will be back to write about it. 

In the meantime, I leave you with this. 

They have updated their ad from Pop-Tart to Snickerdoodle. I need to find some good Snickerdoodle recipes and go on a really long run soon. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Love Day!

I hope you all had a wonderful, love filled, happy Valentine's Day!!

Whether it was with your husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, son, daughter, or with your very best friend in the world, I hope you gave and received and were wrapped in and comforted by love. 

Love should be celebrated not just one day a year, but every day. Love is the tie that binds and it is all that we need. May you forever run in love and may love carry you safely on your path. 


Friday, February 14, 2014

I Am Strong

When I started running, I doubted my strength.  Each run was a test to see if I was strong enough to make it around the course just one minute longer than the time before.  Each run made me stronger and stronger and finally, after all these years, I realize I AM STRONG enough to run!  Is it still hard?  You know it is.  But I never doubt my ability to bear it and complete my goal. 

In life too, I am finally discovering my strength.  If you had asked me years ago if I would be able to handle some of the things life has thrown my way, I would have told you that there was no way I was strong enough. But now I am here to tell you how wrong I was. As life gets hard, I get strong. When faced with devastating events, I can bear them. Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy. Just because I can bear it doesn't mean I don't feel it. Every now and then I have to lock myself in the car and have an Adele moment. 

I realize now that being strong doesn't mean pushing your feelings aside, it means feeling everything, but pushing through anyway. When life throws me days that should bring me to my knees, it's as if I can feel my spine steel and my feet root to the earth below me. I have a physical reaction to the sadness, fear, and doubt. That reaction is my inner strength letting me know I can do this. 

I know now that I was born with this inner strength. It was not something I earned or cultivated. The steel inside of me has always been there. I didn't know it before because I had never had to call on it. But once it was needed, the strength inside was undeniable. 

In finding this strength, I have started feeling more connected to all of those around me. Knowing the pain, the uncertainty, and the loss we will all eventually face and knowing the inner strength that we all share, has made me realize how same we all are. I feel especially connected to the the strength of all women. I salute the strength of all mothers, wives, and daughters. I am in awe of what we are capable of enduring. On especially tough days, I feel as if I am channeling my own mother and I am finally able to fully understand and appreciate her strength. Perhaps that is where my strength has come from. Just maybe the strength of my mom, my grandmothers, their mothers mothers, and so on has been passed down to me and through me. I am strong because WE ARE STRONG.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Running For Answers

Here is my confession: I am terrible at prayer. Honestly, I try all of the time, but I am a complete failure at it. I usually make it through my first thanks or request and the my brain drifts off into who knows where. I find myself listing all of the things that need to be done the next day or recapping all of the things that have been done. Poor God has had to listen to way too many next day schedules from me. My heart is in the right place, but my brain isn't disciplined enough to follow.

Earlier in the year, I found a solution in the form of two prayers that worked for me. I'm going to share them with you: Lord, Thanks!  And, Lord, Help.  I figure he knows the rest.  

The only problem with my solution is that it doesn't allow me the time to really communicate with God/myself to contemplate what I'm facing in life. Enter running. 

I am not suggesting that running is spiritual. Or yes, maybe that is exactly what I am suggesting. Running, for me, allows for what I imagine deep prayer and meditation allows to those who have the enviable ability of shutting off their thoughts at will. Running quiets all of the noises in my head and allows for pure and clear consciousness to flow in. Long runs slowly strip away the layers of unnecessary and leave me at the end feeling like nothing is left but the truth. 

I mentioned a few days ago that I've been in the throes of chaos and turmoil recently. The stress has been overwhelming and consuming and I was in desperate need of a run. This morning I slipped out of bed before anyone could miss me and I took off for some two legged meditation.  I had no distance and no pace in mind. I just wanted to run until I felt better. Shortly after starting I came across this fence and I knew I was on the right path:

On and on I ran. The run was physically the easiest I've had in a long time. Emotionally, though, I went through the ringer. Several times along the way, I found myself sobbing openly. (if you ever witness a runner crying uncontrollably, don't worry, it's how we work things out sometimes). I couldn't stop myself but I also didn't want to. It felt good. I indulged myself with the time I needed to process what I've been going through. And process I sure did. 

You may be wondering if I found what I was in search of. The beauty of running for clarity is that you often find the answers you didn't even know you were looking for.  I found that I've been wasting a lot of energy worrying about the wrong things. It became clear to me that there are things in my life that deserve and need my full attention and that I should trust that the rest will work itself out. What's the phrase? Let go and Let God. 

Lord, Thanks!!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Here We Go Again

First off, let me apologize for neglecting this blog. In the last ten days or so my personal and professional lives have started spiraling into chaos. I've been emotionally overwhelmed and even though I love writing for you all (okay truth telling here, I really love writing for me), I haven't felt balanced enough or really even had the spare time to clear my head and put down any cohesive thoughts.  But, as I sit here tonight on the couch physically and emotionally drained, I figured I'd take a few minutes to catch up on some things.

Here we go again Part 1:
Monday was the first day of my second semester as a coach for Girls On The Run. On a side note, How did February get here so quickly!?!  Now here is where I'm going to tell you something and you have to promise not to judge me: I wasn't really looking forward to it. In the month and a half that we'd been off I'd gotten used to having a normal work schedule again (I have to leave very early to get to GOTR and then work again late at night to make up for it) and my situation at home has started pulling at me to be around there more often. For these reasons, as much as I hate to admit it, I wasn't overly pumped to go meet our new girls on Monday and start another semester. I'm sure you're thinking I sound kind of selfish and I was being a little selfish, but here is the good news: I love the girls!  You can't help but forget all of the stress and worry that day-to-day grown up life brings when you hear a bunch of 8 year old girls talking about what it means to be a positive person. Witnessing their innocence reminds you that it's okay to drop the hardened exterior that we've all built up around ourselves over the years of battling the "real world". As I sat there on Monday listening to the girls talk, I realized for the first time in a long while I felt totally unburdened. 

Here we go again Part 2:
Over the weekend I commited to a coworker that I would run a half marathon with her in April. Then promptly had a heart attack when I realized that said half marathon in April is only 10 weeks away!!  Don't get me wrong, I'm all about jumping back on the running wagon. I just wasn't planning on jumping on the training wagon quite so soon. 
What you're looking at is an 8 week (I really couldn't face 10 weeks) training program that looks interesting and a little different. I'm hoping changing up the training will make it feel less like training.  A girl can dream can't she??  The race I've commited to does have me a little excited. It's a diva dash for women only and looks like it should be a really fun celebration of female strength. I think there was so much seriousness that went into the Houston Marathon that it will be nice to do something fun and a little frivolous like stoping mid run for a tiara and boa break. I think I need a reminder that running and racing is FUN. So, here we go again!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

One of The Best Things

One if the best things about running....

Wanna know how I avoid overeating at Super Bowl parties?  I run!!  Hard. And a lot. 

Gotta love calorie deficits. No guilt for me. This is my SUPER bowl!