Tomorrow is the 35th Columbus Marathon. This blog, however, is not about running. It is about being stuck and breaking free.
One day earlier this year, Kim (one of Clear Rock’s personal trainers) suggested we go for a run together. “No way”, I thought. She’s a running coach with MIT (Marathoner in Training). I am too slow, too far away from the fitness I used be when I was a runner.
But I went anyway, three miles down the bike path by the studio. All I remember is not being able to breathe and feeling really crappy about myself. My heart rate was in the 160’s. Forget it; it’s just too late for me to be a runner again. I felt embarrassed even though Kim was completely encouraging.
I let the self criticism ride out until I couldn’t take it anymore, then stuffed it into a jar I keep inside of me labeled Things I Don’t Want to Deal with Right Now. I tightened the lid and carried on.
Most of me did anyway. The part of me that always believes in more, though, that part of me was awakened by this run and then doing the Cap City ½ Marathon in May. Cap City was a fluke. I registered to walk it, like I had been for the last six years. But when I got downtown, I saw a few friends who were pacing a running group and decided to stay with them for a mile or two.
I ended up running with them for eleven miles, and you can read about that in a blog titled Facing the Giant from May 4, 2014.
After I did that, even though I was sick for the rest of the day, since I hadn’t trained to run eleven miles, I realized that I could do it. And if I wanted to do it better and feel better after, I had to train. So those things, along with a few divine messages, propelled me to register for the marathon this year and to train with MIT.
It was a great summer that included:
- Early morning runs that I’d forgotten were so beautiful.
- Running buddies that made those mornings possible.
- Group runs every Saturday where I met new people, made friends, and built up my miles and my confidence.
- More carbohydrates than I have eaten in years.
You would think the week before the race, knowing all those long training days are over, would feel great. But the lid on my jar was rattling loose, and the stuff that was leaking out was keeping me from enjoying the fruits of all my training. I was out of my comfort zone, so all hell was breaking loose in my mind. That’s what leaving our comfort zone does. It loosens the lid on the jar.
Monday was a nice, easy three miler with Kim. It was so very different than our first run earlier in the year when I couldn’t breathe. I felt good, I felt strong. But I felt excruciatingly sad and I couldn’t figure out why.
My head was doing monkey-mind things like this: “4:57 / 26.2 = 11:20 minutes per mile in Arizona the last full marathon I ran 2007 ok 26.2 x 12:00 = 5.24 = 5:15 finish time if I run the pace I trained at omg that means on Sunday I have to run 12:00 – 11:20 = 40 seconds per mile faster than I trained at to finish at 4:57 like I did BACK THEN.”
And since all that was going through my head, instead of being rooted in faith and peace and grace, I began sobbing at the end of our three mile run. Kim gave me a big hug. She just allowed me to be with the crap in my jar, which contains all kinds of fears about being good enough, about getting older, about having a disease, about losing physical ability, fitness, quality of life, even life itself. It’s a big jar.
I don’t remember the specifics of our conversation while standing there by our cars, across the street from the community center, at 7:30 in the morning. I just know I heard the lie that was keeping me stuck, which was, “You have to get back to where you were.”
It is a miracle really. Once you confront the lie, light and truth pour in. I don’t have to get back to anywhere. This is now. It is completely new, part of the whole journey, but not the same path I traveled back then.
A deeper truth hit me as well. Fear and lies are trying to rob me of the joy of my present experience.
When I understood that, that’s when the warrior in me came out. Because I know this battle, and I don’t back down from it anymore. I am rooted in light and truth. Fear cannot rob me of my joy in any circumstance ever again. I put on the armor and fought back the fear with sword and shield. I have it on right now, and I’ll have it on tomorrow.
An amazing thing happens once you start challenging yourself physically. You get radically present. You get present with your breath, your body, aches and pains, the temperature and wind, the feel of your muscles beneath your skin, your clothing, hunger and thirst, everything.
I forgot how hard it is to try to run 26.2 miles. All the back story I talked about Saturday? That dissolved into thin air shortly after the first mile. I had no energy for all that. I needed that energy for the run. My legs needed it. My heart needed it.
And without that story playing in my head, the I have to get back to my former self, weight, pace, size story, all that was left was open-heartedness. That is all it takes. Forget about what used to be. Even if you got to be the same weight, pace, size that you once were, it would be different. You are different. Be you, now. Get radically present.
There are awesome gifts once you break free of the old story and can finally take a good look around. But we must move forward. Whether it is one mile or 26 is completely up to you.