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!

 

 

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Knee Pain and Discipline: I Did It!

This morning I ran my fourth consecutive Sunday!

Sunday Runday is now a thing. 🙂

And met up with a new friend from our local running club. Bless technology! Someone else posted last night in the facebook group about running in the morning and we both responded. We had met once at previous group run but didn’t have time to chat. The OP didn’t show but she and I met and had a great time!

I was about seven minutes late because at first I went to the wrong trail entrance on another street. But luckily she’s patient and didn’t bolt. It was the first time I ran with someone who didn’t have a route all planned. We just made some suggestions and tried it out.

It was 28 degrees this morning at 7:30 a.m. I started out with a knit hat and a gaiter, plus a base layer and windbreaker. Light pair of gloves. After the first mile, we looped back to our cars both shed some layers. I got rid of the hat and gaiter. It felt GOOD to be without a hat, feeling the wind on my neck. I feel like I’m getting more robust. My body seems to be acclimating to the cold and I can run comfortably with less layers now.

Right away, my knee pain from yesterday showed up. But I was determined. It was bad enough that I was slow, but having to walk so much of it was mortifying. She wanted to get in 6 miles and so did I. We ended up with 4.24 miles, and she said we could stop.

She ran with me at times and ahead at others, and I was fine either way. I was just grateful she didn’t cut the run short. Although I suppose an injury does deserve some compassion-it probably helped that I didn’t complain and did my best to run as much as possible. She could tell I was trying.

Would I have tried without someone else to consider? Probably not. Woulda gone home.

But that’s the great thing about accountability. Today I learned that having another person to run with not only motivates your pace, but makes you want to be a better runner, period. I didn’t want to get in the way of her goals. There was mutual respect.

Since joining this club I’m discovering that runners are generally reliable people.

I was a little anxious about oversleeping but got plenty of rest and woke up refreshed.

I was glad to make it today after missing the group run yesterday. I felt back on track.

I’m convinced that my knee pain is due to lack of running this week. My knees haven’t been this bad since I ran the Cinco de Miler last year– after seven MONTHS without training beforehand. Except the night prior.

My last attempt was Tuesday morning– for class we were inside the local athletic club on the treadmills. We were told to “dress accordingly” but since I never go to gyms, I was over-dressed. I was so hot indoors on the treadmill all I could think about was feeling gross and over-heated. I definitely held back. Now I’ll know that indoors means a t-shirt, not a base layer. And shorter pants.

Hours later, my knees still throb.

Tomorrow is my rest day, thank God. I’m understanding why we need them now.

But Tuesday I will be back in training, pain or no. Maybe I’ll get some Bengay tonight.

I’m proud of myself for hobbling through this– that was bad ass!! I never brought up quitting. I was open-minded about where she wanted to go. I did the best with what I had.

I discovered this morning that I’d rather be struggling with knee pain, practically hobbling, than cut a run short or ditch it all together.

Why?

Because I am a runner.

On Discipline

I’m getting a lot done lately, and I love the feeling of accomplishment.

Re-organizing and prioritizing.

I’m realizing that as much as I admire minimalists, I’ll never be one of them! Yes, I’m a sap.

A friend just pointed out to me that I’ve invested a lot in my books. Good point! I got rid of the ones I bought but accepted I would never read, or on topics I’ve already absorbed. Let someone else enjoy them. I have more space now. I kept my favorites, including some from childhood. Now I get to buy MORE! Mwahahaha!

I love it! I can’t believe I got rid of probably 85% of my movie collection. But CD’s are harder. They are attached to a time period in your life, memories and emotions. I’ve never used digital music. I have no files on my computer or songs on my iPhone. I am a decidedly old-fashioned lady when it comes to technology. I still love my cassette tapes. I even have a few vinyl records. I don’t listen to music often at home, but always blast it in my car. At home I enjoy silence or watching TV and movies.

Being single, I’ve learned to appreciate quiet. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable.

And I’ve made an executive decision to keep my writing. Some poems and things that aren’t relevant, I’ve shredded. But I have notes and papers I wrote in college. Old newspaper articles. Old school assignments, they are mostly in binders. They are a record of my life. They show how much I’ve grown. What I felt back then.

Those, I’m keeping.

But what I’ve learned through this purging is that when you dispose of useless things, you leave room for something better. Something ELSE that will bring you joy.

If it doesn’t bring you joy, why keep it? Pitch it.

As I de-clutter and purge, I’m feeling more relaxed in my own space.

Can’t complain.

What’s Wrong with Religion?

It’s fashionable these days to identify as “spiritual, not religious.”

But I ask, what’s the taboo on claiming a religious identity?

If you have any religion, good for you. If it makes you happy, that’s what matters.

I’m aware that for many people, religion has been a radically different influence in their lives. They have good reason to distance themselves from it and to be suspicious of anyone associated with it.

But for me, prayer and Mass and the Sacraments have been the bedrock of my life.

I’ll tell you what I know.

I cherish all the benefits of religion: tradition, structure, discipline, dogma, family heritage.

Religion is more than a belief system, it’s a tremendous supportive network. It’s a rock in the storm of life.

For many, I think the term itself implies some sort of zest beyond what is acceptable.

But in my life, a devotion to religion is, and always has been, normal. Both sides of my family, plus my step-mother’s family, are all Catholic. Irish, German and Italian! I’m a cradle Catholic who attended Catholic school till I decided to transfer to a public school after my freshman year. I wanted some variety.

My parents always took me to Mass on Sundays. The idea was if I was too sick for Mass, I was too sick to do anything else. As a child, I thought of it as boring. But now I’m thankful– my parents cared enough to instill a respect for routine and specifically, religion, in my life. We prayed over meals– though quickly! I know many parents say their children can choose to be religious when they are 18. But I think it’s sad that many are not raised with religion as children. If you’re raised without it, it seems the majority never understand the beauty and power of having that as part of your life. If you’re raised without religion, you’ll most likely continue as an adult without it. Or you’ll spend your life as a spiritual nomad, looking for a denomination or religion that seems to fit you. At least if you’re raised with SOMETHING, you have a starting point. You can choose to leave it and join another, or you can reject it entirely, or dedicate yourself to developing a deeper relationship with it. In my case, I rebelled for awhile in college by not going to Mass.

But I never stopped praying. I never stopped loving Mary, or the Saints. I kept close friendships with nuns and the priests my family had known for decades. And they helped guide me.

When you’re raised with religion, it feels natural to participate in it and share it with others. I feel a peace with other Catholics that I treasure. It’s like having a giant extended family. I love that in almost any city, I can find a Catholic church. I’m lucky that my religion is often in the majority.

I grew up surrounded my nuns and priests, especially since my favorite aunt was a Catholic nun. Reflecting as an adult, I’m both surprised and somewhat sad that she didn’t talk about the Bible to me. But for 10 years, she took a leave from her convent and lived with us. She was a living example of Christ’s love. She was FUN.

She had no enemies. She never said a bad word about anyone. We never prayed the Rosary together, although we did pray often. She just exuded a gentle and steady love. When she moved back home with her community, she would send me prayer booklets, icon cards, and religious cards for my birthday, holidays. In college, her e-mails and care packages helped sustain me when I was desperately homesick. What little money she had, she was always sending me little gifts. She was always telling me that I was special and that God has a wonderful plan for me.

We kept in touch with cards by mail and often prayed over the phone together. She’d pray the Guardian Angel prayer with me. She was a gifted listener. When I would feel afraid or nervous, I’d call her and cry and just talk it out. She didn’t often give advice but her calming influence always reassured me. She would always remind me to be kind, to give the person who had upset me the benefit of the doubt. To consider why they may have acted that way– without malice. When she died in 2010, it was if a light in my life had been snuffed out. It was a Dark Night of the Soul for awhile.

But that loss of her only drove me closer to the faith I’d shared with her all my life. Now I feel she’s a guardian angel to me herself, protecting me and reassuring me still. Now I pray to her. I keep her close to me by being more resolute as a Catholic. I remember all the times she asked me to go to Mass with her and I said I was too tired and didn’t want to get up that early. She was never angry and always accepted my decision– but she never stopped asking.

Now I see it was something she wanted to SHARE with me. It’s harder to find people now to go to Mass together.

I realize now what an act of love it was for her to want to go with me to Mass. And I feel bad that I bypassed so many opportunities in my life to do that with her.

And now, on my own, I’m starting to want to delve deeper into Catholicism. I’m beginning to read The Bible more. I’m feeling closer to the Blessed Mother, praying to her more often. I’m feeling a desire to pray the Rosary, though it’s intimidating.

I even have a Non-Denominational friend who wants to learn to pray the Rosary with me. How beautiful is that?!

If you weren’t raised with religion, please try to open your heart and consider it.

You might be shocked by the peace you feel. And if you are afraid to pray, that’s why we have so many prayers.

Just read it out loud and I promise, God will hear you. Here’s one you can try:

The Guardian Angel Prayer

“Angel of God,
my Guardian dear,
to whom God’s love
commits me here.
Ever this day,
be at my side
to light, to guard,
to rule and guide.

Amen”

He always does, even if He doesn’t answer right away.

Self-Defense Week Four Wrap-Up: Push-Ups to The Mat

Tonight I learned I need to focus on physical discipline.

Specifically, building my strength and endurance.

I’ve certainly got plenty of spiritual discipline.

But in class tonight, we did a drill where we had to do push-ups, mountain-climbs (sprinting in a push-up position, basically) and then drills on the bag with our hands and knees.

I got in position but could barely go down. I bent my elbows just the slightest amount. It was mortifying.

“Push-ups go down to the mat,” my instructor said.

“I’m weak,” I countered.

“That’s a good way to stay that way,” he said.

And I respected him for that. Am I going to just accept this about myself? NO.

I AM the runt in the class. And I’m going to use that prove that I’ve got the most heart.

I always attract strong, powerful men with a lot of intelligence. I’ve dated a MARINE. He told me several times how much I intimidated him. He was an officer.

I’m going to start re-directing my power toward MYSELF, rather than attracting others. Stop looking around me for validation and protection.

This class is total cognitive dissonance, because as a Catholic and a Christian, I’ve lived my life with the philosophy of being open. If someone attacks you, you back down. You’re deferential. You forgive.

But life is not forgiving. Life is brutal. It’s a war out there– you have to fight for everything.

Being fit and healthy is my first line of defense.

Tonight my instructor reminded us that it doesn’t MATTER if we’re tired or weak, we need to keep fighting.

“Until the threat is gone,” he said.

And this can be applied to anything.

I’m going to stop babying myself, which I am definitely guilty of doing.

A few times between exercises, he offered us a water break. I decided not to go the last few times. I felt good about it. I was fine. I didn’t need water.

I’m stronger every time.

I asked one of the other women about push-ups– what’s a good number to start with for me? She told me at one point she could do 63 in a minute. She told me to just do what I can and build from there.

Leaving, I told my instructor I’m working on my push-ups.

“I’m not doing the girl push-ups,” I said.

Rain or Snow, all the excuses need to go

I’ve lost my motivation to run in this erratic cold and wet weather.

My feet are cold. I don’t have enough running clothes for a variety of weather conditions. I need “running” socks that are water resistant. Those are excuses I tell myself.

Recently I acquired a few more basic running clothes. I’m getting there.

But the truth is, I just haven’t felt like running.

I need to just get out there and find out as I go what I need. I have the basics.

Now it’s just about discipline.