The power of a pity party

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When my youngest daughter was growing up, she had the usual amount of teenage angst and drama (although it seemed at the time it was more than the usual amount).  I didn’t have a lot of patience with self pity then, and still don’t.

I’ve always encouraged her to remember that we are embarrassingly blessed.  Not just our family, but most of us in the western world. We have more materially, but we also have the freedom to do things, to be who we are or want to be, to pursue things that interest us and ignite our passions, to worship as we like. We can choose our careers, our friends, how hard or how little we work, and we have a nearly unlimited ability to get food and soothe our creature comforts.  (I could go on in this vein, but this isn’t a political post, so I’m sure you get the picture).

What all that meant to her was that I didn’t allow her to have extended self pity sessions.  I would remind her of all that she has and all that she is, I might agree with her anger (or depression, or whatever she was experiencing), or I might tell her how silly she was being;  then, I put a time limit on it.  I told her I would give her XX amount of time to be sad, depending on the situation, then I would drag her out of bed, if needed,  and make her face the world again.  Head on. I only had to drag her out a couple of times.

It’s always been my philosophy that we need to remind ourselves of the silver linings.  To see the world in a positive light, even when the world doesn’t really deserve it.

I’ll admit that’s not really my nature.  My lineage is filled with  “Woe is me, the sky is falling, nobody likes me, I can’t catch a break” characters, including my own mother.  But, I determined early not to be that person; that I would always find the silver lining, and, for the most part, I’ve been successful.  I have to dig really deep sometimes, but it’s always there to be found, and I want to live a life of joy and hope, not one of despair and fear.

Running has been a lifeline to that for me for many, many years.  So, the struggles I’ve had for the last couple of years with injury and illness have subdued that spirit more than I’ve wanted to admit, even to myself.  My inner dialogues go something like, “I know this hurts, but remember that not everyone is able to run,” or, “Get over yourself, you have a life most people never even dream of,” or some variation on that theme.  And, all that is true.  I’m thankful each day that I have been able to have running as a part of my life; for every slow, painful mile; for every sunrise I’ve seen on the run; for every city I’ve explored on my feet; for every trail I’ve stumbled down; for every beautiful moment running has brought to my life, and there have been many.  I don’t think I’ve ever taken a run for granted.

Which brings me to now.  Because, as you’ve guessed if you’ve stayed with me this long, I am injured.  Again.

A few weeks ago, I went for a short, easy 4 miler, and somehow came away with a pulled hamstring.  I thought, okay, no worries, I’ll stretch, get a massage and take a week or so off, and be back to normal in no time.  Tried to run a week or so later, and limped for the next two days.  More days off, another massage, essential oil applications, diligent stretching and it was time to try again.  No dice.  A week of chiropractics, more of the above, and yesterday’s test run ended in tears.  I mean The Ugly Cry.  You know the one.

Drove straight to the doctor, went through my treatment, was short and cross with him, and left with more tears. It felt like the end.  No one said that to me; in fact, he (the doctor) told me he sees no reason that I can’t get back to running.  But, yesterday, I was afraid that my body was saying something entirely different.

Now, if you’re not a runner, you won’t understand this.  I don’t mean that to be condescending, I just know that before I was a runner, I didn’t get it either.  I never understood my husband’s need for motorcycles, never understood the pleasure people derived form hunting or fishing or whatever their passion was, how doing those things fed their souls.  I just never got it.

I had passions, sure, but they involved my faith, my family, my friends.  I never knew that the passion I felt in those areas could be intensified and fanned into flame by simply moving my body forward through time and space and allowing God to use that simple pleasure to make me whole.

I get it now.  And, yesterday, I thought that was over for me.  So, I threw myself a good old fashioned pity party.  Sorry I didn’t invite you, but I really didn’t want company.

After the doctor’s visit, I decided a pedicure would help, so headed to my favorite salon.  Who should plop into the chair beside me but a bubbly young mother donned in running clothes, gushing about the nine half marathons (yes, NINE) she completed last year, and how much she is looking forward to the Dopey challenge at Disney next year (Google it, it’s ridiculous – I’m not even going to give you a link).  I’m pretty sure I didn’t curse or throw lightening bolts from my eyes, but I wasn’t my usual chatty self.  The pedicure was a bust.

My toes look pretty, though.  (See?  Silver linings.)

I thought a little shopping would help, so I tried on a few things for the summer.   You know how that went, right?

I finally got home to get a little work done.  After completing the most urgent of my tasks, I gave in to it and had a good cry.  I didn’t try to tell myself how lucky I am, how blessed I’ve been, or how many people have issues much more serious than mine.  All true. Not helpful.

I could only think, if I’m not a runner, then who exactly am I?  I let the tears flow, I soaked in a lavender bath, then I let the tears flow some more.  I had a date with one of my best friends, and while I thoroughly enjoyed her company and the theater production we went to see, the two+ hours spent seated in the theater made my bottom/leg/groin hurt even more, and tears flowed freely on the journey home.  I stayed up much later than my typical 9:30 bedtime and used that time to wallow in self pity like a pig in slop.

Then, came the morning.  A beautiful, cool, sunny, spring morning as only my Mississippi can throw at you.  A perfect day for a run.  Sigh.

Oddly enough, I met the morning with a smile.  My heart and mind were clear, my joy and hope had returned, and I no longer had that dark little cloud attached to my back end.  I went to my doctor’s visit, where I was much nicer and he very diplomatically didn’t call me out on what a b**** I was yesterday.  We did some different therapies, and I left with much less pain, and in a more hopeful frame of mind. I realize I was being overly dramatic (who knew I could still be that at my age?), and that, of course I will run again.  It’s not like I’m trying to make the Olympic team or qualify for Boston, I just run to stay sane.

Making a plan always makes me feel better, so I’m working on that now.  It involves some time off running, but I’ll be filling that time with other good things.

The point of this post is that sometimes it’s okay to have a little pity party.  Limit it, don’t let it go on and on, and if it does, it’s not a pity party. It may be something more serious for which you need to seek help.  Don’t be afraid to do that.

This is one of my favorite quotes, and the truth of it is huge for me today:

I’ve have my tears, next week I have a short beach vacay with one of my dearest friends, and the week after I’m headed for a dive trip in the Dry Tortugas with my favorite person in the world, my man.

Life is good, salt is healing, God is full of grace and mercy.  I’m truly thankful.

In this mile

If you read my last post, you know that my confidence in my running ability has dipped into single digits.  For this week’s scheduled 9 miler, I knew I would have to draw on resources beyond my own and play some serious mind games to get it done.   

My man is racing this weekend (dirt bike, not foot) in Pontotoc, Mississippi – about 4 1/2 hours north of our home.  Having been in the area a great deal over the last years for work (and play), we knew that Trace State Park is a beautiful, serene area to get my run on.  In fact, we stayed here when I was training for NYC in 2011, and I did a long run here then, as well.  I even remember I had to do a 13 miler that day, and the hills and valleys the park provided were just the ticket.  Would it be again?  

After much prayer, some whining (okay, a LOT of whining), some deep breathing (exasperated sighs count, right?), and a new determination, I made my plan. 

 I would hit the trails in the park with no direction except to go where the spirit moved me.  And, each mile, I would purposely, consciously, and with direct intention STAY IN THAT MILE.  I wouldn’t think about how many more miles I had to go.  I would ignore the obscenities my hamstring screamed at me.  I would pay no attention to Lady Garmin’s discouraging data screens that carefully calculate my pace and distance.  I would walk when I needed and run when I could.  

I would carefully place one foot in front of the other until I reached the end.  I would find joy in each mile, and be humbly thankful for it.  

Guess what?  It worked.  Running trails is a great way to stay in the mile, as you have to be very aware of where you place your feet.  Especially prone-to-roll-an-ankle me.  Also, many of the inclines were so steep, there was no way to run up or down them, so I didn’t feel a bit guilty for walking.  

  
Trust me.  The image doesn’t do justice to the steepness of that hill.  

Mile one was all about the sunrise.  

  
The trailhead was about a mile from our camp, so the first mile was on the road.  The stillness of the cool, fall morning and the deer crossing the road ahead of me pulled me to the trail with more anticipation than I’ve felt in a long time.  

Mile two found me doing  The Dance of the Spider Webs.  All trail runners (and cyclists, and ORV riders) know that the first one down the trail gets to clear out all the spider webs.  I’m just thankful I was alone, as my dance skills are somewhat rusty.  On the plus side, I brought enough cobwebs back to camp with me that I could make a quilt.   If I was so inclined.  Which I’m not.  

Miles three and four were filled with deer sightings.  I ran into a clearing and surprised an entire herd (do deer travel in herds, like cows?).  They lifted their heads as one to see what lead footed creature dared to come crashing into their space, saw it was just me (who was just as surprised to see them), then flicked their tails at me in disgust and turned, again as one, and gracefully melted into the forest.  I stood still for a moment, watching after them with envy.  Their movements are so elegantly beautiful, and mine are so clumsy.  Still, I was humbly grateful for the moment, and reminded that I don’t HAVE to run, I GET to run. I never want to take that for granted. 

Miles five and six brought more deer, squirrel, bunny, and spider sightings.  They also brought renewed complaints from my potty mouthed hamstring, so I slowed down even more.  By the end of mile six, I headed back to the trailhead to finish up on the road.  

Miles seven, eight, and nine passed more quickly than I had a right to expect and I stumbled back to the campsite where cold chocolate milk and a banana awaited me.  My awesome man helped me stretch my aching, grouchy legs, and I headed for the shower.

After almost three weeks of craptastic runs, and the realization that the upcoming race is probably going to be my slowest one so far, today was much needed.  Non runners may wonder what keeps us running when it hurts so much and seems to give nothing back for the amount of effort we put in.  I could easily write a thousand word essay on why I run, but I can also boil it down very succintly.

This.  This day, this run, this feeling.  The joy of new discoveries, the aching of my muscles that makes me aware of how lucky I am to be able to run, and the way chocolate milk and a cool shower taste and feel at the end of nine miles of trails.  

The exquisite relief of making it to the end and realizing you had it in you, after all.  

   

She believed she could, so she did.

 
And, she found joy in every mile.  

Turtle Days

It seems like every run lately has involved a turtle sighting.  I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I live in the boggy South, where heat and humidity have a summer long competition to see which one can make me the most uncomfortable (humidity won today).  Still, I run a lot, and to see turtles as often as I have lately feels a little like a message.  

Even the trail I often run is sending me the turtle message:

  

As I plunked along this morning, cycles whizzing past me at Tour de France speeds, runners easily lapping me, it seemed even the wildlife mocked me.  I thought of all the turtles I’ve seen over the past months, and it dawned on me:  these are Turtle Days.  

Now, this isn’t really a thing.  I realize that.  But, I have a particular affinity with the tortoise of fable.   I, too, am strong and steady.  And, slow.  

 I may not be fast, but I plod along, solving the world’s problems  in my mind, writing the great American Novel, plunking along until I get to the end.  Then, I go home, shower, live my life, and do it again the next day.  Slow, steady, true.  

Most days, I’m fine being the slow, steady one.  But, I’ll admit, it plays with my psyche.  I mean, will I ever be fast? Or, just faster?  Doubt creeps in and does its ugly number on my mind, and, if I’m not careful, soon I’m thinking, “Why bother?  I’ll always be the slow one.  Why keep on keeping on? ” I’ll admit, it sometimes discourages, even defeats me.  I mean, am I just not built for speed?

Then, I think of those turtles that I’ve seen.  Hmmm…  they don’t allow the fact that they are the slow, chunky kids on the playground to stop them from coming out to play.  Seriously, if my runs of the last few months are any indication, they are the most active kids on the playground.  Turtles are everywhere.  Coming and going, hither and yon.  They don’t allow their lack of speed to stop their progress. 

 There’s a lesson there.  

   
    
 

Most of the time I have no problem being the tortoise and not the hare.  I’m accepting of my lack of speed and I’m ever hopeful that one day I’ll be faster.  Until then, I’ll plod along, getting stronger, solving world crises, and writing the great American novel in my head.  I’m winning all the races in my mind, as well, so there’s that.    

  

I’m in this running game for the long haul, so I’ll keep on moving forward.  Plunking one foot in front of the other, reminding myself that it’s not about speed for me, but endurance.  I want to be running when I’m 90, after all, so for me that means slow and steady now, and maybe always.  

I have a lot of admiration for this little guy though:

  
He’s giving it his all, and what more can we do than that?  
  
I’m running on faith at this point.  It’s gotten me this far, I’m sure it’ll get me where I’m going.  

Love the one you’re with

To be honest, I never liked that song. If you can’t have the one that you want, love the one you’re with? Really? No, get over yourself and go for the one you want and let the one you’re with go find someone who appreciates how amazing they are.

…Anyway…

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This past weekend, my man took me to NYC. You may remember, this blog started during my training for the 2011 NYC marathon. The first Sunday of November each year in NYC finds thousands of runners of various abilities pounding the pavement through the five boroughs of NYC, aiming to win, hit a personal best, or to simply finish. I was one of those brave souls then, and I’m proud of my less than illustrious finish, even if it wasn’t the time goal that I had originally sought. For me, it was about setting a goal and finding the mental strength and the determination to see it through to the end.  I did that.

This year, when I learned that Meb would be running NYC after his historic Boston finish, I knew I wanted to go watch him run. So, my man and I booked our trip, and last Friday , we headed to one of my favorite places to watch one of my favorite races and try to chase Meb through the boroughs. We had a blast running around Brooklyn, trying to find the best spot to see the elite men and women, then hopping back on the R train and heading back uptown to try to catch them again.

What on earth does that have to do with loving the one you’re with? Let me explain.

I love NYC. Since my very first trip there in 2006, it’s been my favorite city to visit and explore, and I’ve made trips there at least once a year since then. Each trip has various goals, but some goals are the same every time. I always want to: see at least one Broadway/off Broadway show; run a new route; visit at least one new historical icon; run in Central Park; eat lobster ravioli in Little Italy, a hot pretzel, and a Nathan’s hotdog at least once each; go to a new museum; and simply walk the city as much as possible. We achieved each of these goals (some more than once), except the Nathan’s hotdog. That’s ok. I’ll eat two on my next trip. 🙂 And, I’ll spare you a pic of the half dollar size blister on my heel from walking around the city.  You’re welcome.

New York City was one of the first trips I made when I began running again. I visited with my sister and got up early (while she talked business on the phone and blew cigarette smoke out the window of our No Smoking room) to run in Central Park, by myself, with no fear and tons of amazement. I ran a bit, took a few pictures, and dreamed. I dreamed of being a faster runner, of running new paths, of exploring the world through running, and of becoming the woman that I envisioned – one who pursued her dreams while raising her family and being the woman that God wanted her to be. Big city, big goals. I’m still working on those goals, all these years later, but one of those goals I met in 2011 – to run the NYC marathon. It wasn’t pretty, but it was fun, and I finished with a smile on my face.

This year, as I watched the amazing athletes (elite and real people) run the boroughs and reach for the stars, I was awed and humbled. We made the journey to see Meb run (hey, you have your celebrity crushes, I have mine), and were able to catch him at the beginning of the race (around mile 2 in Brooklyn), and close to the finish (around mile 24 in Central Park – geez, those dudes are fast). We were able to see some of my other celebrity crushes, Deena Kastor and Kara Goucher among them, as we waited for the elite men to zoom through.

Elite women in Brooklyn (around mile 2)

Elite women in Brooklyn (around mile 2)

Elite men in Brooklyn (pic by my man since my phone was dead; and yes, that is my Medusa hair as I shot with my GoPro)

Elite men in Brooklyn (pic by my man since my phone was dead; and yes, that is my Medusa hair on the bottom left – the wind was brutal!)

Deena Kastor, mile 24.  God bless the Old Broads.  Although, at 41, she barely qualifies.

Deena Kastor, mile 24. God bless the Old Broads. Although, at 41, she barely qualifies.

Kara Goucher

Kara Goucher

Then, came my favorites, the real people. The ones like you and me, the ones whose eyes aren’t set on winning, but on a dream, a goal. One that’s personal and private. One that makes them feel like they’ve accomplished something, one that makes them believe in themselves. One that reminds them that, as bad as life can sometimes be, there’s always hope. These are the people I love. The ones who know that life really only has the limits that you allow it to have. The ones who understand that nothing is a given; life isn’t always easy; that a life worth living is filled with dreams and hopes, even when it’s hard; and the only person who can fix it/achieve it/fulfill it is themselves. I love these people. Watching them race on Sunday; some with grins, some with grimaces; all different body types – some looking like runners, others looking like me; some in obvious pain, others with a smile of wonder on their faces; some fast, some slow; some walking, some running;, some crying, some laughing; some singing, some barely hobbling along: these people are my people. The ones who know that dreams are achievable, borne to us on the wings of hope, faith, and pain. The real people. The ones who make marathons sing with joy and hope, overcoming pain and sorrow, disease and trouble. My inspiration.

Real people, the ones who really deserve our applause

Real people, the ones who really deserve our applause

And, that brings me back to loving the one you’re with. One day, several years ago, this old broad decided it was time. Time to reclaim my life, my health, my sanity. Time to reach for the stars. In a life only marked by mediocrity, it was time to reach for my own personal definition of success. To embrace the body I was in and begin to seek good health, sanity, a life lived well. If I had waited to start running when I was thin enough, or fit enough; if I had waited for that perfect moment in time when it all came together, I would never have started.

It’s still a struggle. I have good days, weeks, months when running seems effortless; then a long, long string of bad ones. I struggle with injury, with losing weight, with finding time. I struggle with speed, with endurance, with motivation. I just struggle.

Still, I run. I’m taking the body I have and I’m moving it forward in pursuit of the body I want. It’s an ongoing pursuit, a never ending battle. But, I love the one I’m with. I’m content in my pursuit.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0501.

 

 

A few images of our fun weekend in NYC:

I love Brooklyn

I love Brooklyn

Finally walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.  My man has NEVER been able to walk the line.

Finally walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. My man has NEVER been able to walk the line.

Central Park run -  the Reservoir

Central Park run – the Reservoir

The skyline as I left the MOMA

The skyline as I left the MOMA

Central Park in the fall

Central Park in the fall

9/11 memorial

9/11 memorial

And me, keeping the faith and learning to love the one I’m with.

Central Park, Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis reservoir; Fall, 2014

Central Park, Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis reservoir; Fall, 2014

That fickle friend: Motivation

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.

Sometimes, it just ain’t pretty

Sometimes running is amazing. My legs and lungs feel strong, the miles fly by in a blur, the sun shines softly, the breeze caresses me. Creative thoughts flow into my mind and stay with me as I go about my day, getting everything on my to do list accomplished. I love those runs.

They are very, very rare.

Some runs are real dogs. Not the cute, cuddly kind that you snuggle with on a cold afternoon. No, the big, drooly kind that flings himself on you for a hug and a sloppy kiss right after he rolls in roadkill. Or, the snarly, vicious one who runs at you out of nowhere when you’re minding your own business, and causes you to have an unintentional and life-threatening PR on a training run.

Today’s long run was a dog. I finished it, but it wasn’t pretty. Everything hurt, my tummy wasn’t happy we were running eight miles, and everybody I saw was making it look easy and effortless. Yep, this one just sucked.

I posted this quote by Marko Cheseto on my Old Broads Run Facebook page this morning:

“Running is the easiest thing in the world. You just put one foot in front of the other and make sure you are moving forward.”

What I love about that quote, what makes it amazing and repeatable is that Marko was a world class track athlete at the University of Alaska, when after a series of sad events in his life, he lost both his legs. After quite a struggle, mentally and physically, he was fitted with running blades, and is, once again, on the rise in the world of running. His story is in the February, 2014 edition of Runner’s World, and is a must read.

I’ve never been a world class athlete. Truth is, I never will be. And that’s okay. My goal in running (and in life) is to be the absolute best that I can be, to find that elusive mental toughness I seek. I don’t run to win races. If that was all I sought, I would have quit a long time ago. I also don’t run to impress anyone. I run because there is a deep-seated need in me to find my best, and I’ve learned that running is one of the pieces of my puzzle.

Even bad runs offer me answers. I guess I should say especially the bad ones. Because those amazing runs, the ones that are effortless and easy, really just soothe my soul, they don’t teach me anything. Sometimes a good soul soother is exactly what I need, and I know that I’ll have those runs again. But, mostly, I need lessons. Lessons in mental toughness, lessons in enduring. Lessons in making the best of a bad situation, lessons in problem solving. Running teaches me all those things, and more.

I’m not mentally tough. I look at Marko Cheseto, and I shake my head at how soft I really am. This man has no legs. Yet, he runs with grace and perseverance. He puts one foot in front of the other and makes sure he is moving forward.

Life is full of challenges. Some big, some small. The way we handle those challenges defines us. It tells the world (and ourselves) who we are and where we’re going.

Sometimes, like on today’s dog of a run, we just have to take a deep breath, put our head down, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Because running is easy. It’s life that’s tough.

challenge_defeat

Running in the rain

It rained here this weekend, so I decided to postpone my run until today. It wasn’t torrential rain, but hard and steady, and my mood reflected it all weekend.   I haven’t run long in a few weeks, but I decided today’s run would be short, then, hopefully, I’ll run tomorrow and Thursday, and be ready for a long run on Saturday, if Gary’s surgery goes well on Friday.

I got up this morning looking forward to the run, something that hasn’t happened in a few weeks.  I gulped a cup of coffee, got Gary all set, then I headed out to the Trace to pound a little pavement.  It was cool and overcast, with a light misting of rain, and I relished the ability to get out and go for a run.  The run was excellent, just the right amount of hard and easy; rain misting, then sun peeking out.  And, as usual, that made me reflect on how much running mirrors life.

I know you’ve heard it often, that life is a marathon, not a sprint.  And, it is.  We’re in this for the long haul, so we better pay attention to our training, eat well, rest well, live, laugh, and love.  But, sometimes the storms of life make that difficult.    Life is full of storms, some particularly devastating.    A cancer diagnosis, a sudden job loss, a car accident, the unexpected death of a loved one.  No one expects us to run through those;  and, thankfully those storms are pretty rare.  They produce adrenaline that pushes us through to the other side, relatively unscathed.  No running required.  Just the ability to hang in until we can function again.

Today’s run reminded me of the other real “storms” of life.  The sneaky ones.  The little things that eat away at our joy, erode our happiness, steal our faith, if we let them. You know the ones I’m talking about.  Months after the car accident, the pain that still lingers.  Or, having to take a job that you hate in order to provide for your family.  You think, I can walk or I can pay my bills, so I should be thankful.  Yet, still the mist keeps falling.  You have to keep wiping it out of your eyes to be able to see, and the view ahead seems bleak and unchanging. The trick is to just keep running.  Stay faithful to the course and keep your eyes on Him.

At the end of my run today, two beautiful, graceful deer crossed ahead of me, directly in the path of a sunbeam.  They stood majestically and looked at me, paused long enough to make me think I could get a picture, then flounced quickly into the woods and melted from view.  They made me smile and give thanks for rainy day runs.  There’s always a reward for staying the course.  The sun will shine again. Depend on it. And, sometimes, it will even bring a glimpse of majesty with it.

“Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never gone running in the rain.”**  The rain makes us remember and appreciate the beauty of the sunny days.  But, it also has a music all its own.  One that is necessary to soothe our troubled souls.

27 He draws up the water vapor and then distills it into rain. 28 The rain pours down from the clouds, and everyone benefits.29 Who can understand the spreading of the clouds and the thunder that rolls forth from heaven?  Job 36:27-29

**(Yes, I did play fast and loose with that quote-it actually is about dancing in the rain, but since I don’t dance, and dancing in the rain seems a little more problematic to me than running, I changed it to suit my needs. 😉  )