A Run and A Confession

I ran five miles tonight after three days break.

Afterward, I drove to Confession at St. Ray’s. I made for the last hour and spent most of it in line, waiting.

And what a wait it was!

I had conversations with three random women. When was the last time a stranger talked to me in public, doing anything? It was refreshing and unexpected.

At first I felt a bit self-conscious in my skirt, even though it’s an athletic skirt. Everyone else was so buttoned up and well, Catholic. Hee! But a woman in the pews pointed to my skirt and asked, “Do you play tennis? Cute!” We got to talking about exercise. She had a big black boot on her foot. “I’ve never been a runner,” she told me. But she loves tennis. She said she’s not sure what kind of work out she can do with her foot.
“Yoga?” I suggested. She agreed. Pointing to her arms, she grabbed one and jiggled it! She likes to lift free weights. She was wearing a bright orange shirt, black pants. Cute choppy blonde haircut.

The line moved up, so I moved. I said goodbye to her and we smiled at each other.

Two women in front and behind me were having a conversation. Whispered, so I couldn’t decipher what they were saying specifically.

I was looking at the woman in front of me, scoffing internally at her bright yellow banana clip– straight out of the ’90s!– and the wierd black pipecleaner thing she had somehow wound around it.

And while I was judging her, she began talking with me. The woman in front her saw my Shamrock Shuffle hoodie and asked if I had run in it. “Yes!” I said. “My daughter ran it,” she told me. I felt so proud. This hoodie wasn’t cheap but I knew I’d live in it. It felt so good to be recognized for an athletic achievement by a stranger. I’d told myself it’s just an 8k, a mere five miles. Small potatoes in the running world. But that’s five miles I couldn’t dream of two years ago!

It was her turn.  So it was just me and the woman behind me, who had a thick braided ponytail– almost white blonde. She was holding a small finger Rosary.

“Is it Amber?” I had asked.

She wasn’t sure. “I got it in Poland,” she told me.

I told her that on the other side when I got there, there were several nuns waiting in line.  “I wonder what nuns confess?” I mused.

She said a lot to me, but I couldn’t hear most of it. But clearly, she was alive with faith. She spoke of Jesus, I caught that much.

Then it was my turn.

I told Father that it’s been about a year since my last Confession. I had missed Advent. I was kneeling on a dark wood bench– there was simple cloth curtain separating us. It seemed to be a large confession booth. He was a good listener. It was almost 9 p.m., closing time, but he wasn’t hurrying me at all.

I was surprised at how good I felt– I wasn’t wracked with guilt about anything. I told him the truth– that I haven’t been to Mass much lately.  That I had a hot dog for lunch. That I quit choir so I could get to bed earlier and focus on running. That I gave up envy for Lent, and that I struggle with it. That I gave up sleeping in for Lent too– also for running– and have failed that on multiple accounts! That I want to be more independent. I’m trying to save my money.  That my parents are my best friends and I want to do right by them. That I want to learn the Rosary but it’s overwhelming and not happening yet.

I told him other things of course– but I’m keeping that to myself!

I was genuinely shocked by his reaction.

He didn’t chastise me once. Not even for going MIA from Mass for awhile.

Instead he told me that God wants us to progress in our lives. That I’m doing that with my running. That my tenacity will pay off.

He asked me to say One Hail Mary and one Gloria.

I left feeling lighter. I’m always inspired by how forgiving and open-minded priests can be. I should have gotten his name. I’d like to confess to him again. He had a soft accent.

I left feeling grateful and cleansed, like I do after a good run.

Confession was like a five mile run for my soul. I feel more spiritually fit.

If you haven’t been to Confession in a long time, don’t be afraid. Be honest. And let it go.

 

 

 

I Would Do Anything (to Run)

Jim Steinman’s piano got my run started this morning, circa 5:30 a.m.

In the darkness I smiled to myself.

Pre-dawn, Meatloaf’s vocals are the perfect motivator for me. Especially this song– starting delicately and then building with tension. Perfect for a morning work-out.

I actually did some dynamic stretches today after waking up! Feeling smarter every day. I’ve decided learning (and implementing) stretches is one of my goals for this Tues/Thurs training class. And I got the layers mostly right today, though I could have used another pair of tights! My core, hands and head were toasty, however. And that’s enough for me.

I’m making this work!  Last night I was asleep just after 8:30 p.m. My body is starting to cooperate with me, at long last. Yesterday morning in class I had something like 3.5 hours of sleep because of anxiety about waking up so early. I did okay. But today I was better.

I’ve run this early before, but usually when I couldn’t sleep anyway or because I had plans.

Today I woke up this early out of sheer discipline, and surpassed my goal! Coming down the hill toward by car at the end, I stopped to behold the sunrise. I was in no rush.

God was there with me.

Just after three miles, my knee began to hurt a little. But I’ll ice it and be on with my day.

I feel refreshed and hungry. Time for breakfast and a shower before work!

 

 

Unrelenting Blogging, Running and Courage: Six Year Anniversary!

Word Press informed me today it’s my six year anniversary as a blogger.

Hard to believe this chronicle of my life still stands– I attempted to erase it once. Exes had commented, past friends were keeping tabs on me, fellow bloggers encouraged me. Thank you to those who have subscribed, followed, commented and encouraged this unrelenting literary journey! Some have left, but most have stayed.  It’s edifying.

I went through a period of wanting my life without documentation.

My emerging narrative had no focus, I felt it was a waste  of time. But as events unfolded, I found this humble blog to be a refuge.

I would write what I want, without censor or error by editors. Without deadlines.

This journey began as a public vow of accountability during Lent, to uphold my Catholicism and Lenten promises. To challenge me.

Six years ago, I was searching for meaning in a relationship with a man. I thought that was the dream I should chase. I thought my treasure would be in another’s heart– in the reflection of what he loved in me.

Now I have accepted loss in relationships that haven’t lasted. I wrote about some dates, and the struggles to combat loneliness and failed compatibility. But I kept the details away, not wanting to jinx something still evolving, nor preserve details of suitors who did not work out.

Now I have accepted uncertainty and blog when I feel compelled.

I am still restless, but have re-directed my energy. Now the relationship I feed is that with myself– and running is the mechanism driving me forth.

Now I have races and goals for which to train! The joy I find is in surpassing my doubts.

I seek my own approval, reward myself with courage.

I’m making plans without fear.

I’m still Catholic, but now I forgive myself easier. I don’t depend on Lent to hold me accountable to my own promises.

I allow myself to be human, faults and mishaps included. I enjoy Mass but it’s not the center of my life as it once was.

I’ve chosen to build my life around developing a routine of running. I’m struggling with rising early and getting to sleep early enough to maintain that schedule. But already, it’s bringing me peace.

I’ve signed up for training classes for an upcoming race, my first 10k with lots of hills. I’ve joined the local run club in my community. I’ve attended group runs. I’ve enlisted a running buddy to start soon. I’ve purchased running gear necessary. I’m learning to layer properly in differing weather so I can persevere.

I’ve also failed twice this week on something I consider major: I missed my training class Thursday, and slept through a group run this morning.

I’m worried because my next race has a time limit for me to qualify as a finisher– I usually need 1 hour and 30 minutes to run five miles. This race requires 1 hour and fifteen. I felt intimidated— but signed up anyway. Now that fee has been paid! I want that finisher’s medal.

Today as I ran, I pushed myself. I knew I had to wean my mileage and maintain it below a 15 minute mile. And I did, except for two short bouts of walking. I noticed my knees hurting by the end, 3.16 miles. But I don’t normally feel that when I’m running regularly.

Tomorrow morning I’m meeting someone from our running group early. I’ll go faster.

I’ll be the runner I know is within me.

I think I’ve found something special with running.

And it’s in every road, every time I put on my shoes.

Running Milestone: Coldest Run Ever!

I just ran FOUR MILES in 20 degree weather! My phone actually froze and shut down.

It took two pair of running tights, two top base layers, a windbreaker,  wool socks, a gaiter, a lined hat and two pair of gloves. FINALLY, I layered successfully to accommodate my run plans.

I’m elated because twice last week I gave up on runs in warmer temps because of insufficient layers and a cruel wind. I didn’t even last a quarter mile and felt disappointed and frustrated with myself. But this morning, I was warm enough. Without feeling miserable, I was able to relax and just enjoy the run. I could even have conversations.

I’m getting smarter about running!

Today was also my second group run with the local running club I just joined. On both runs, we took a group photo!

Talk about solidarity! Though I’m hovering at a 15 minute mile, no less than four different people came back to check on me and make sure I was okay and didn’t get left behind. Two ran slightly ahead or would go forth and jog back, and the other two stayed by my side the whole time and adjusted their pace to mine. Even if I needed to walk. Both were what I needed at different times–space and camaraderie.

I’m starting to understand the true benefit of a run club. I’ve run with several friends at different races and our own accountability runs together, but until today, only two people have run WITH me the entire time.

Usually the more accomplished and faster the runner, the more pre-occupied they are with hitting their own goals and PR’s (personal records.)  All four people who ran with me today are veterans who can go a long distance. They are just generous people. They made sure that I knew they were *happy to be there with me– that my slow pace just made me a beginner, not a burden.

They all introduced themselves and wanted to get to know me, asking me about my running, etc. A few knew me by name. I felt so included! I didn’t finish the entire run because I have an appointment with my eye doctor this morning and don’t want to be late.

But I will finish the entire long run with the team one day. I will. Oh yes, I will.

Driving to our location this morning, the sunrise was on my left. I felt serene and awake.

Can’t wait till next Saturday!!

One run at a time, I’m changing my life.

Lenten Promises 2017

I’m giving up envy and sleeping in this year. Got my ashes tonight at Mass!

I struggle often with envy and while sometimes it can be motivating it’s mostly a purely sulfuric emotion that causes me to distance myself from people who I envy, sometimes when they are celebrating a milestone that deserves my support.

So hopefully this will make me a better friend and a more selfless woman.

Sleeping in is probably my #1 vice! I want to regulate my schedule into a better routine.

This should do the trick. Hopefully I’ll also run more.

Here we go!