Getting my groove back

grace_weaknessInfinite. That’s the word that kept pushing itself into my consciousness this morning as I walked. We returned from vacation over three weeks ago; tan, but not well rested, and my body immediately decided it would rebel. Here’s some travel advice (FWIW). When traveling to Hawaii, spend the extra $ to fly first class (we didn’t). Or, don’t take the red-eye on your return journey (we did). I probably could have gotten away with that twenty years ago; but, no more. So, as a result, I’ve spent the last couple weeks fighting a stubborn infection (3 antibiotics down!), and trying to get caught up on my sleep. I’m not blaming the vacation, I’m blaming the 36 hour trip home. If I was still in Kona, I’m sure I would be right as rain. ;)

Anyway. My fall training plan for a Thanksgiving half marathon lies crashed and broken at my feet. Sigh. Which brings me back to that word, infinity. The Webster definition is “extending indefinitely” or “subject to no limitation”. I think that perfectly describes my question as I rebuild, “How many times am I going to have to start over?”.   Indefinitely, subject to no limitation.  Over and over again.  Forever and ever, amen.

So, here I am again. At the starting line, feeling like I need to go back to bed. Sheesh. There are moments that I think, why bother? But, bother I do. Quitting is never an option for me. My brother in law commented to me the other day that he doesn’t see how I continue to run. I replied that I don’t know either, and it ain’t pretty.

After spending the last couple of weeks rising late, napping every day, getting the bare minimum of work done, and being in bed again by 8 for a 10 hour rest, I’ve had enough. So, this week I set my alarm, dared myself to turn it off, and went to the trail to walk. There is no running yet, but I hope to add it back next week. Even then, it will be run/walk. I plan to run that Thanksgiving half, but I won’t be racing it. I have my eyes set on a spring half to race, and am just trying to get my groove back until then.

I’m thankful that running has taught me a few things over the years. I know that forward motion ALWAYS heals, and the energy and strength I need will follow if I’ll be faithful to move every day. I’m using the walking time to catch up on some of my favorite podcasts, and Andy Stanley’s Northpoint Community Church tops that list. As I listened this morning to a series from August entitled In the Meantime, I was reminded that my pigheadedness perseverance serves me well in times like these. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m treading water in the meantime, and keeping the faith. God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. His perfection should be shining through in 3, 2, 1… Well, soon, anyway.

Having been to the doctor more in the last three weeks than in the last three years, I discovered a few things.  All my bad numbers are up: weight, sugar, cholesterol, etc.  So, it’s past time for some changes.  I’m not a big “diet” person, but I’m making some changes in my nutrition which already have me feeling better.  And, I’m moving again.  Slowly. Oh, SO slowly.  But, I’m moving forward, so that’s what counts.

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I’m counting on God to do what He does so well, and bless this effort immeasurably. With His version of infinity. Forever and ever, amen.

If you don’t already, I would love for you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I am trying to be more faithful to a social media presence, and am not too ashamed to beg would love to count you among my friends/followers. ;) My twitter is @old_broads_run; Instagram is jaynerich; and Facebook is Old Broads Run. Hope to see you there!

Kona

The view from the plane the day we arrived.

The view from the plane the day we arrived.

We’re at the end of a magical two weeks in Hawaii, and I’m trying to think of ways we can move here. We came to Kona the first time in 2010, to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, and we fell in love with this place. So, when my man asked me a few weeks ago if I would like to come back, I started packing immediately. We booked a last minute trip, and, I’ll be honest, I don’t want to go home. We’ve traveled a lot over the years, and been to some magical places, but this is the one I would call home if I could. I truly love it here.

Of course, at this point in my life, that’s not possible, so I’ll use this post as a tribute to the island, and just try not to think of how much I want to stay.

First off, to Kerry and staff at Kona Dive Co, job well done. Love you guys! We dove with you back in 2010, and Gary and I both marveled at how every dive still feels fresh and new under your guidance. I know you dive the same spots week after week, but you seem to absolutely love what you do, and that makes every dive guest feel like you designed that particular dive for them individually. Thanks so much for our time on the water! My underwater camera decided to sit this trip out, but I think that made my dives even better. It allowed me the opportunity to savor each one, and drink in the entire experience. While we didn’t see the things we saw last trip (at a different time of year), we had amazing dives filled with beauty and peace. Eagle rays, turtles, eels (including the beautiful dragon eel – thanks, David!), pompom crabs, and too many other things to enumerate here. Thanks, guys, hope to see you all again soon.

What makes Kona special to us is the topside experience we have in addition to the diving. As much as we love to dive, we love hiking and seeing all the area has to offer. That’s one of the reasons we love Kona so much. The diving is spectacular, and the island itself is like a beautiful puzzle we unlock one step at a time. This trip we enjoyed the Kohala coast, the southern district of Ku’a, the Honaunau Coast, the exquisite Mauna Kea sunrise, and, of course, the beautiful volcano, Kilauea. We used the website bigislandhikes.com almost exclusively for our hiking guide. We also asked the locals (Kona Dive) for their recommendations.

Enough words. Here are some of my favorite iPhone pics from our trip. We don’t fly out until tomorrow night, so I reserve the right to add another post later if we see something amazing tomorrow.

Mauna Loa from the dive boat

Mauna Loa from the dive boat

Honokohau Harbor hike

Honokohau Harbor hike

Akaka Falls. Hint: don't go on Wednesday, cruise ship day in Hilo

Akaka Falls. Hint: don’t go on Wednesday, cruise ship day in Hilo

Sunset from our condo

Sunset from our condo

Trying to stay warm on Mauna Kea

Trying to stay warm on Mauna Kea

Above the clouds, Mauna Kea at Sunrise

Above the clouds, Mauna Kea at Sunrise

Petroglyphs at Kilauea

Petroglyphs at Kilauea

The arches at Kilauea

The arches at Kilauea

The steep climp to Pololu Valley

The steep climp to Pololu Valley

Waipio Valley

Waipio Valley

Pololu Valley

Pololu Valley

Pololu Valley

Pololu Valley

Honaunau coast

Honaunau coast

 

So much left unseen. Until next time, beautiful Big Island…

That fickle friend: Motivation

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I’ve neglected my blog much too long this summer. No real reason, other than the voices in my head have been unusually quiet, so I’ve felt uninspired and uninspiring. I’m happy (?) to report they’re back, talking over each other in their need to be heard, and coming soon to a blog post near you. Turns out, they’ve all been sulking this summer because they thought we weren’t going to get some much needed R&R someplace salty and sandy, because when we booked a last minute trip for later this month, they all came out of hiding, quivering with excitement.

The loudest voice has been talking about motivation. I don’t know any long term runners, including myself, who haven’t been asked how they stay motivated to run. I think I can answer for all of us with two simple words, “We don’t.”

I frequently lose motivation, even (or maybe expecially) in the middle of a training cycle for a race that I’m looking forward to with intensity. Doubt in my abilities, inclement weather (which for me means cold), that weird combination of anticipation and dread inspired by a particularly hard workout, not eating well, eating too well, discouragement in lack of progress, feeling too fat for my running skirt, just pick a reason. I’ve lost motivation for all of those and more.

Having fallen in love with this sport early in my running life, and knowing that I want to be a life time runner, I knew I had to learn to deal with that sinking lack of motivation that comes to every runner, even elite ones, at various seasons during their running lives. For me, that was accomplished by making it a habit, like brushing and flossing my teeth (which I’m also frequently unmotivated to do).

I’ve learned that it’s okay to take time off from running, as long as I maintain my fitness doing something else. I’ve learned to listen when my body starts complaining about over training and heed its warning. I’ve learned the value of rest days, and the importance of cross training. I’ve learned to take my running clothes with me when I work out of town or go on vacation so I don’t get out of the habit, and that a simple change of scenery will often breathe new life into a stale training plan.

When you first begin running, or begin again after a break, motivation is an almost constant companion. But, after you’ve accomplished your goals, run the race or lost the pounds, the new kind of wears off. If it’s not something you’ve taught your body to expect, you may lose interest and stop.

That’s where that habit thing comes in. Some may call it discipline, but I don’t. I’m not particularly disciplined, but I am a creature of habit. After too much time off, my body reminds me in subtle, then not so subtle, ways that it’s time to lace up again.

For instance, earlier this summer, I had a somewhat frightening migraine that triggered a spike in my normally very low blood pressure, making me feel bad for several days. By day four, I was done with feeling bad, so I forced myself to get out of bed before 7, and headed to a local trail for a walk. My mind kept telling me to go back to bed, but my body knew. I walked so slowly that the turtles looked at me with scorn, but in less than five minutes, I felt better. And, I felt better the rest of the day. I made myself walk at least 30 minutes every day for the next week, and finally, my BP got back to normal. Within a couple of weeks, I was running again, back on my training plan.

When my alarm clock goes off WAY too early, I sometimes resort to trickery to get myself out of my nice, warm nest. I tell myself that I’ll only go for ten minutes, and if I still don’t want to run, I can go back to bed. I never end up back in bed. Once I start, I’m reminded of how much better I feel when I run than when I don’t.

It all comes down to this for me: I’ve felt bad, and I’ve felt good. Feeling good is better. I’ve been fit, and I’ve been fat. Being fit is better.

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that I sometimes give in to the siren song of my comfy bed with my warm man in it, but more often than not, I get up and out the door to get my run on. That said, I turned my alarm off this very morning and stayed in bed another half hour. What can I say? Stuff happens.

I’ve never once regretted getting up early to run, but I have almost always regretted sleeping in. For me, for now, that’s enough.

Mondays

“Words are things, I’m convinced. You must be careful about the words you use or the words you allow to be used in your house.”  Maya Angelou

Sheez.  Today was Monday all over.  Seems like everyone I know had a “Monday” today.  From work issues to family problems to shark infestations on the beach; from people tending to someone else’s business to school issues to painful self realizations. It was well and truly Monday in every negative sense of the word.  Of course, those are the days that I’m always taught a lesson, and, unfortunately, the “painful self realization” was mine.  Or, maybe, fortunately.  I guess it depends on how you look at it.

The truth is, I reacted badly to a situation that I could have diffused with a few simple, easy going words.  I was confronted rudely and with anger, and I responded in kind.  I felt quite justified until the words I spoke in haste trickled into a sticky situation for someone I love.  That’s the thing about words.  They have such power.  Good and bad.  And, we should always use our powers for good.

I hope it’s “lesson learned” for me, but I’ve been notoriously thick skulled and unable to learn from my mistakes in the past, so I’m calling on God for this one.  He’s the only One who has ever been able to make my “lessons learned” stick, and I’m sure there have been many times He shook His head in frustration at my inability to remember them.  Like today.

As always happens, there was good strewn among the bad. I had an impromptu lunch with an old friend who was also having a “Monday,” and we laughed our Mondays away.  That’s the awesome thing about true friends.  You may not see each other or even talk to each other often, but when you do reconnect, you pick up right where you left off. I’m thankful to have several such friendships in my life and I hold them close to my heart. The true treasure of life – the “anti-Monday,” people that you love.

So, I’m offering a prayer that I’ll learn from my Monday mistakes, and remember to temper my words.  Our words, written or spoken, have so much power that we should always weigh and measure them carefully before they’re poured out on a wounded world.

peace

 

And, tomorrow I get to run. The week is already looking up.

Searching for sanity

After taking a few months off from running following my last race in November, I found myself about mid-March mired in a pit of depression, which I blogged about a few weeks ago.  I’ve always known that running does more for my mental health than anything else I do.  So, I pulled myself up by my shoestrings, threw on my favorite running skirt, and started the long journey back.  And, it’s been a journey.  Until I stopped running for a while, I had forgotten just how much it helps alleviate anxiety, reminds me of the beauty of my life, raises my mood, and makes me feel invincible.  Truly, after a good, hard run, I feel bulletproof.  Work flows more easily, creative thoughts fight with each other to express themselves, the little aggravations of life (like the restaurant that over billed my debit card by $40 and won’t acknowledge the mistake), even the real problems of life lose their power to turn my tummy into a pit of burning anxiety and my mind into a swirling vortex of crazy.

My weekly mileage is still low, my pace is absurdly slow, and until today, every run has felt like a job.  Not a fun job.  More like a “clean the toilet” kind of job.  After it’s been used by men.  Still, I’ve continued to plug away.  I mean, someone has to clean the toilet, right?  I knew that at some point, it would feel a little easier and I would be reminded of why I love to run.

Today was that day.

I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture of running.  It’s hard,  it’s hot, it hurts.  Almost always.  And, I don’t want you to think that I’m some gracefully gifted runner who flies along the path like a cheetah, feet barely making contact with the ground, hair flowing out behind me.  I know some of those runners, but I’m not one.  I plod along, scraggly ponytail tucked into the hole of my tattered, smelly running cap.  I’m carrying an extra burden of 15 pounds or so that the short hiatus from running and the food trough I fell into packed onto my short frame.  Sweat runs down my face in rivers and turns my pale (not creamy) skin into a blotch of red spots that make me look like I have a contagious disease.  I’ve never been fast; now I’m positively glacial.

Still, I plod.  Then, sometimes, like today, the plodding rewards me and reminds me why I continue to make this journey.  A run that had some aggravating factors before and during (not going to expound on that, just think “crazy people” – if you’re in business for yourself, you immediately thought of someone) turned into the soul soothing, sanity producing, anxiety eliminating run that I so desperately needed.  I  wasn’t running some fun, new route; the earth didn’t move; I didn’t have a celebrity sighting (and, by celebrity, I mean like Meb or Ryan Hall or Shalane Flanagan); I was only marginally faster than Thursday’s run; I didn’t even see any of the cool critters which often brighten my runs.

Even so, my soul was soothed.  My mind was comforted.  God showed up with His Asics on and ran beside me.  Love it when that happens.

If you never want to run, I get that.  I would never tell anyone (especially another old broad) that they need to become a runner.  What I would tell you is this:  If you’re searching for sanity; trying to pull yourself out of the pit; or looking for goals and trying to decide what the next phase of your life holds,  you will almost always find the answers on the trail.  Walk it, run it, or do some creative combination of the two. Just put one foot in front of the other and move.

Sanity lies just over the next hill.

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Determination

I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve been steadily moving forward, mile by mile, some days inch by inch.  I’m slower than ever, my legs don’t seem to remember that they can run long, and motivation is ever a fickle friend.   The slowness I can live with; I know the endurance will return; but, motivation is sometimes that mean girl whose a** I want to kick.  I know her well enough now to understand that her ebbs and flows are just part of the plan, and I try not to let it keep me from my task.  I learned long ago that discipline is more important in running than motivation, so I’m calling on all my reserves to remind me every morning as I get up to go about my day.  The mornings that she joins me on my run are inspired and beautiful; but I know I can run without her; and, it seems, I often do.  One way I entice her to run with me is to change up my routes, find new running paths, and look for fresh inspiration on every run.

Today was one of those days that motivation deserted me, turning over in bed at the time I needed to rise, and informing me that she was going back to sleep, so I was on my own.  I gave her a vicious shove and headed out without her.  I headed to our local rails to trails, my go-to trail when I have to run with no motivation.  It’s an easy run; very flat and shady; a run I can do on auto pilot.  At the stage my training is in right now, that’s often what I need.  Runs that remind my legs we can do this, but that don’t require a lot of mind games to accomplish.  

I headed out at my usual starting place (Jackson Road station), mind still not on board, and just ran.  I love our local rails to trails (Longleaf Trace): no dogs, no traffic, just people like me, intent on getting their workout in.  One of the really cool things I discovered about this route last year is that there are numerous trails that lead off the path through the woods that are well marked and easy to follow.  I LOVE trail running, but don’t go to many of our trails often, as they are quite a distance to drive, and my man doesn’t really like me to run them by myself.  The trails off the Trace, however, are a different story.  I’m never far from the main path, so running the trails isn’t quite the lone experience it is in the national forests that surround the other trail runs that are within my reach.  On a whim, I darted onto the first trail I came to, Turtle Loop.  It is a short one (1.5 miles) and that was just what I needed for today.

This is what greeted me:

turtle loop

It was at that moment that motivation decided she would join me. I smiled and welcomed her, and on we ran. The smell of a Mississippi spring is almost indescribable. More talented scribes than I have attempted it. The odor of spring honeysuckle takes me back to my childhood, carrying me back to simpler, sweeter times. Yes, the sweet smell of spring brings my allergies into screaming awareness, but I love it, all the same. The path melted away under my feet, taking me up several fairly steep inclines, but giving in return the promise of renewed strength and determination. Glorious, spectacular day. Motivation was running right beside me, drinking it all in. I was happy to have her along for the ride.

At the end of my run, as I returned to the Trace, I encountered a little guy who was, perhaps, a little too on point (I was running Turtle Loop, after all). This very determined turtle was climbing up one of the steepest inclines on the trail. I stopped and marveled at him a few moments, taking a photo and realizing how much alike we were, then I headed on down to the path to complete my run.
turtle_determination I’m quite sure that he made it to the top.

I’m thankful that I know that persistence trumps talent, because, as running goes, I have very little talent. I am, however, one very determined old broad who knows that determination can bring about results that talent can only dream about.

Keep moving forward, my friends.

Starting over… again

I was fishing for compliments the other day, and I flippantly asked my man why he loves me.  He looked at me very seriously and replied, “Because you can do anything.”  Never one to accept a compliment graciously, I rolled my eyes and said, “Well, I can’t sew.”  He squinted at me curiously and said, “You could if you wanted to.”  I was touched to my soul.

Once you come out of your sugar coma, set aside the cheesiness of that interchange and look at the truth behind it.  I’ve been blessed my entire life to have people around me who believe in me (often more than I believe in myself), who encourage me, and who tell me the truth when the truth is hard to hear.  This particular truth, that I can do anything that I truly want to,  has been spoken to me, sometimes aloud, sometimes through actions, for most of my life.  I fully believe that if there is something in life that I want, and am willing to put in the work necessary to achieve it, it can be mine.

When I became interested in photography, I tried to learn everything I could about how to become a better photographer.  I dug deep to find classes that would teach me the basics, found people who mentored me, shot rolls and rolls of film, learned how to process film in the darkroom, then had the rug snatched from under me and had to learn digital and all that goes with this new age of computers.   I eventually went on to become a professional photographer, and even opened a studio and worked full time in that industry for a while.  It was (and still is, to some extent) something that was important to me, so I gave it my all, and succeeded to the degree that I wanted. I wanted it, so I worked for it.

My last post was about the drop into depression that I experienced this year.  It was one of the worst bouts I’ve experienced in a number of years, for many reasons, most of which I’ve identified.  I’m FINALLY better; it helps that spring is peeking around the corner and that my world, which was dark and drab over the weekend, became green and colorful overnight.  Even though I sneeze through spring, I love it for its reminder that, while the dark seasons of our lives are inevitable, renewal is always right around the corner.  For now, that demon of depression seems to be bound, and although he escapes his bindings occasionally, God is keeping him at bay for me.  I’m humbly grateful.

My world is brighter and more colorful, with the dogwoods and cherry blossoms blooming right outside my bedroom window.  I’m setting new goals, and asking myself some tough questions about where I’m heading.  Gary and I are running together some, and the slow rebuilding of base miles has begun.  I’m reaching for new goals in life and reminding myself that, if I want it, and am willing to put in the work for it, it can indeed be mine.

Life is ever about starting over, it seems.

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