Friday, May 11, 2012

Distance Record

It was mid-March.  Unseasonably warm. Pouring Rain.  10:30 PM.  We decided to run.  Barefoot. 

My disdain for running began at a very young age.  I couldn't bear the pain.  And I never ran through it.  Later on, during my middle school years, we were forced to run in gym class.  The first run felt great, then I got heat stroke, passed out, threw up all over the front of the school while two classmates carried me inside.  I collapsed and they got me a wheelchair.  I laid in the fetal position in the nurses office in intense pain for hours until my parents rescued me. 

They made us run the mile a while after that.  It was cold, windy and treacherous.  I was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt.  I ran hard and gave up half way through, gasping for air thinking I was having an asthma attack.  Then I got an inhaler (I don't have asthma, doctors sometimes just medicate you to get you out of their office).  When we ran dash races, I always came in last.  Think about that kid that was in the worst shape in your middle school gym class, the one you felt sorry for.  That kid ran faster than me.  And I tried so hard.

In 8th grade we switched schools.  I was unaware that the kids there were Spartans.  Every person in my gym class could run the mile in 8 minutes or less on a bad day.  Even that kid you felt sorry for.  Not me.  I skipped school every day they tested for the mile (a requirement).  My dad had to take me to the track himself (mid-June after school was out for the summer) and force me to run the mile so he could send my time to the gym teacher.  I did it.  With his help and coaching, I ran farther than I ever had.  1 mile in 10 1/2 minutes. 

High school wasn't too traumatic, but I was convinced I couldn't run.  That I was some brutal breed of walkers and I could only get a good workout on an elliptical machine.  Even though I ran the mandatory mile every year and placed around 10 minutes each time, my mind was set to my past failures.  They haunted me.  We had to wear heart monitors in High School.  Our heart rate had to be in the 'target zone'.  This meant for me that I could run really slowly ( I had to to keep my heart rate down ) and pace myself, thus meeting their running requirements. 

Year 1 - After high school I decided I wanted to run.  I'd always been drawn to overcoming obstacles and I hated thinking that I couldn't run.  Reading articles online and using an online exercise website to track my running and training, I was running 3 times a week starting with 1/4 mile and progressing from there.  My focus was distance.  Learning to pace myself to run the whole time, for a sustained time goal (say 20 minutes).  It was going well.  Before long, I was able to run 1 1/2 and then close to 2 miles reasonably well.  Treacherously slow, but well. 

The problems started when I began to push myself to run faster.  Those old thoughts of failure and pain drove me into such present pain that on some runs I'd be lucky to get home before I collapsed shaking and in such unbearable pain.  At home, I would crawl to the bathtub and lay in a cold shower fully dressed with my shoes on.  I collapsed once in a neighbors yard for a duration of time.  My eyes would black out, my abdomen would pulse so violently, the world would be spinning.  These were the same symptoms that I got when I had heat stroke, the first time I pushed myself running in 7th grade.  It was fear.  It was psychological.  The mind is so powerful.  My mind is incredibly stubborn. 

Year 2 - This sounds extreme and it was, but it didn't stop me.  I kept running.  Then I started to ride bike.  Here was something I had no past psychological hurts or trauma with and I loved it.  Soon I rode bike to work everyday unless it was raining, then home on break, then back to work and home again at the end of the day.  I was free.  My body was able and powerful.  My confidence was rising everyday.  Mike and I started to go hiking.  We hiked almost everyday, rode 20-30 miles on the weekends or in the evenings and soon were hiking 10-17 mile days. 

Year 3 - Logically, it dawned on me. If I can  A.)  Ride 20-30 miles and not feel this phantom pain, and B.)  Hike 15 miles and not feel that heat stroke pain (not that these activities weren't painful or we weren't sore, they are a different sort of feeling) then I can logically  C.) Run without psychological hindrance. 

We were pregnant with our first baby and I was not feeling up to overcoming psychological challenges.  Being tired and nauseous 24 hours a day didn't have me in a mindset to run a marathon (though I know people who've run marathons in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters).  While pregnant, we did some pretty long section hikes, walked daily and I rode bike to get groceries every week and rode back with 30-40 pounds of weight in my backpack until 4 days before we had our girl. It takes a long time to recover from a birth physically, then emotionally and then psychologically.  We kept active with our little baby but didn't start running, just tried to maintain. 

Year 4 - I truly felt normal again, about a year after giving birth (any mom knows what I mean, or I hope other mom's do) my hormones were back to normal, my body wanted to work again.  I started with 9 mile bike rides to work a few times a week.  It feels so great to be back in a groove.  Not having a seat to put the baby on the bike, my husband and I were taking turns getting our workouts of riding bike and we were going on hikes and walks with our toddler in the backpack. 

Winter.  Then March.  March of this year.  It came on quick, like inspirations often do.  It was a divine calling.  Now is the time.  We ran barefoot in the rain, for 2 + miles at 10:30 at night.  It took 20 minutes.  When we arrived home sopping wet with aching legs and blistered feet, I did not feel discouraged by the pain, actually encouraged.  During our run, I meditated and prayed.  It was incredibly uplifting and blessed.  The first time I ran without fear of the past, without symptoms of the past and without the pain of a past failure.  One small event that bruised my psyche so badly.  My savior lifted me out of that fleshly mire and held me up.  After that, I knew I witnessed a miracle.  I was saved and healed.  I started to run. 

I run 3-5 times a week.  Today I ran 5.6 Miles on a very hilly lakeside road.  Today I ran farther than I've ever run, blasting past my record of 3.6 miles.  I feel sore.  I am saved.  I am alive.  I do not feel my past haunting me.  The pain has been taken away.  This summer I am running a 5K race.  My goal is 25 minutes.

When I meet another runner, I am drawn to them.  I ask questions and glean from their success and challenges.  A divine meeting over a month ago with an unsuspecting runner, who qualified to run the Boston Marathon this year, gave me this quote, "I smile when I run.  Most people look miserable when they run.  I smile as big as I can because I love to run."  She also told me, after telling her my dream to run a marathon, that I will run a marathon and sooner than I think.  That I will improve exponentially. 

I smile now too. Smiling helps me to take in more oxygen with less effort.  Praying helps me to remain psychologically positive and remember how I've been totally delivered from my past and from my baggage.  I smile and pray constantly.  Because I have hope in heaven, hope in pure love, hope in my savior and his saving sacrifice which takes all my pain away as I die to myself each day.

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