Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Connecting the heart and the mind

My mind has a tendency to run wild at times. I've always had a very dramatic imagination and I used to love to let it run wild when I was young. I remember spending hot summer days at the farm by myself just playing imaginary games and living out imaginary stories. I could entertain myself all day with just what I dreamt up in my head.
I lost that imagination for many years as the reality of life took over and I didn't have the time to day dream. I missed those easy days with myself but (mistakenly) thought I needed to "grow up" and be an adult. Being an adult to me meant worrying about everything and working hard to take care of those I loved.
I suppose that kind of thinking permeates everyone's mind at some point in their lives. Some, like me, act on it and change their lives to follow that thinking. We become, in affect, a tool that exists only to care for others. Losing our own identity, we become absorbed into the world around us. Others find a way to merge their dreams and their cheerished thoughts into the lives of others and into the world around them. They keep their day dreams and their imagination and even share it with those around them. These people, who some call dreamers and abnormal, give their unique light to the world and actually contribute something. It's paradoxical but the dreamers actually give more to the people in their lives than do the ones who lose themselves in trying to provide something to those around them.
It's only through keeping your own light shining that you can give light to the world. Letting your unique light die because you think it's responsible or because you're afraid to show it robs those closest to you of, well YOU! They want you more than anything else.
So how the hell does any of this have anything to do with running? Well, I'm getting there.
All that shit I said above are things I'm just now coming to realize. I can easily write it but it's not so easy for me to live it. My mind runs wild but it isn't filled with imagination and dreams anymore. it's filled with worry and regret. When I run the fear subsides. When I run the hurt pauses. When I run, all those things that I've put on myself lift off for awhile and I can feel free. It's only when I run that I can settle my mind and hear my heart. My heart tells me to be that kid with imagination and dreams who loves listening to them. My heart says be unique give up the worry and know that everything I fear is self-induced and an illusion.
When I run my heart connects with my head and I feel alive and worthy. The trick is to keep that going when the run stops.
I'm trying.

Thanks for listening

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


My training is finally catching up with me. I've been uping my mileage and lowering my pace for the last few weeks. Add to this that I've also been working feverishly on my house in order to keep busy enough to stave off loneliness and it's no wonder I hit a bit of a wall on Sunday. This was the first time in weeks I actually didn't feel like running. I'm hoping it's temporary and that I just need some good rest. We'll see.
I'm traveling for work this week and am in upstate New York where there are lots and lots of hills! I want so badly to be out there training on them but I'm still feeling run down and tired. I'm hopeful that tomorrow I'll have some energy again and can get out there. I've got a 10 mile tempo run on the schedule and am excited about it. I really want to get it done but I also really want to FEEL like getting it done. Maybe that's asking too much and maybe this is what hard training feels like. Pushing through uncomfortable feelings seems to be a common theme for me lately. I hope it's making me grow but sometimes I don't know.
On a positive note, I'm running the Marine Corps marathon this weekend and am very excited about that! We have a large group of friends going so it should be a great time. Plus I've always wanted to run Marine Corps because of the military ties and the location. DC is one of my favorite places to visit and now I'll get to run through it! I'm really looking forward to this race!

Thanks for listening

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

So the Boston thing.....

With all the turmoil going on in my life I found much of my relief and therapy from running. Running was the only time when my brain would stop turning circles with my fears and anxiety so I craved the time on the roads. I ran at lunch, I ran in the morning, I ran after work, I ran in the middle of the night. Running became my drug of choice and I overdosed on it whenever I could. I also wasn't eating. I just wasn't hungry with a huge knot in my stomach most of the time. I made sure to get my morning beet smoothie so I was getting lots of vegetables, but beyond that I just didn't have an appetite for anything. The result of all this running and not eating is that my weight has dropped and I'm running really, really well.
So during this time I also concluded that I needed something to set my mind and body to. A goal. Something to keep them both busy and focused. I decided I was going to qualify for Boston. Why not? I had lots of free time on my hands, I was running a lot anyway, and it's something I've always wanted but never thought possible. Once my world fell apart, impossible and possible no longer meant much. The barriers that I always saw between me and Boston suddenly didn't intimidate me so much. Facing down a large demon doesn't seem so frightening when you have nothing left to lose. I looked at and chose Tucson as my goal race. My friend Maurice has run Tucson a couple times and he has BQed there. It's a net downhill course so that should help. It's also held on December 10th so the timing worked well. I had 12 weeks to get ready for it when I started this journey.
So I highered a coach, got on a plan and off I went! In the past when I'd tried this, I was intimidated by the workouts ahead of me on the schedule. This time I didn't even look at the weeks ahead. I just put my head down and did the workout for that day without thinking. I looked forward to the next one since running was also giving me so much peace. It was the only thing I had to look forward to each day.
I'm 4 weeks into the 12 week plan and am hitting all my goal paces for each workout. My target pace is 7:28. My plan has me sneaking peaks at that pace every now and then but hasn't put my on it for any significant distance yet. I have been pushing myself to keep my easy pace at 8:00 and no slower. I think this frustrates my coach but I know how my body works and know that it easily gets comfortable at whatever pace at which I choose to train. So making 8:00 my slow pace will raise my comfortable pace to that time. Then I'm only looking at about :30 faster per mile for a goal. That's doable in my mind.
The hardest run I've done so far has been 18 miles with alternating fast/slow miles. I did a 3 mile warmup at about 8:00-8:30 pace. Then I ran a mile at 7:30 or less and then a mile at 8:30 for 15 more miles. I hit all my miles and over achieved at the slow pace. It kicked my butt though! I'm proud that I did it but a little worried about how hard it was.
This week is an easy week for me on the schedule. I don't have a track session and my long run is an easy 13-14 miles. Because I'm a really bad student, I'm trying to make this week a high mileage week. I just don't feel comfortable taking an easy week. I'm backing off the pace but trying to run more than the schedule calls for. Shhh, don't tell my coach.

Thanks for listening

Monday, October 17, 2016

Where did I go wrong? Post race analysis

Ok, one more post for my kids to read sometime in the future. 

As I come out of the hole I’ve been in for the last few weeks I am wondering how I ended up down there. I have never been caught so off guard by emotions before so I’m trying to learn from this experience mostly so I can move forward and improve, but also a little because I don’t want this to happen again. So after a lot of reflection, writing, analyzing, I think I have figured out at least one thing about why my relationship went south and why I didn’t see my emotional fall coming. 
Over the last few years I lost my contentment with what I had. I lost my love of myself and what I had in my life and was looking for more happiness from the material world. I bought into the lie that more, or better, stuff would make me happier. When your mother and I divorced years ago, I started over with very little stuff. During that time I discovered how great I felt living simply. Sure I wanted to be a little more comfortable, but I wanted to do that in simple ways. I disconnected from the material world and found so much joy in little things. I treasured and valued what I had and I started loving myself because I didn’t have “things” to distract me. That was the first time in my life I remember being happy alone and it was because I’d learned the value of simplicity and self-reliance. 
After I got on my feet a little, bought a house and became stable financially, I can remember how the desire for more material things started creeping into my world. I became comfortable with a crowd of people and started putting myself out there too much. My ego grew and I started getting more of my self image from external sources rather than from my newly discovered internal reliance. Basically I got sucked back into the material world and I didn’t realize it. 
This is reflected through my desire for a new car 2 years ago. I remember wanting to get a BMW or a Mercedes because I thought I deserved a luxury car and I wanted lots of gadgets. I completely forgot how great it was to have a simple car that was good for road trips. 
At the same time I began not liking my house because it was too small and old. I wanted one of those new cookie-cutter houses because they look new and shiny so I could show it off to my kids and friends. I lost my wonder and love for the coziness of our little house and how it forced everyone to be close and share the space. 
I wanted new furniture and bought a big, expensive wraparound, power reclining couch to replace her wonderful purple couch and the chair that she’d had forever. That couch was perfect for us for so long and I completely disregarded it while I was caught up in finding something new.
I bought her new cookware for Christmas and was upset when she didn’t want them and returned them. I see now that this was a sign that I had lost touch with where I once was and where she still was. The "me" from a few years ago would never have wanted to buy new cookware. We both enjoyed having the old stuff and really liked the hodge-podge collection of Goodwill dishes we had collected together. Why would I ever think she would want new, shiny Walmart cookware?? I look back and wonder who that guy was?

So basically I fell in love with worldly things and out of love with the core of our relationship which was built on simplicity. I had changed and not in a productive way. This change pulled me away from her and towards the world of new shiny things that held no real value. Because I was caught up in this desire, I didn’t see how I had lost the core of what made me truly happy. So when I decided that I wanted a new shiny girlfriend I was unable to see how I was actually pulling the final leg out of what had been supporting me through this time. This is why I didn’t see the fall. There were signs and I missed all of them. Once she left all I had were my shiny things and they were not (could not) making me happy and I had nothing to hold onto. As cliché as it sounds, I had to lose the most important things in order to see that I had my head in the wrong place. 
The lesson for you kids: Be careful where you set your sights. It’s OK to want to improve your comfort level in life but you must always hold true to those core things that make you happy. Lots of things will promise you more happiness but you have to be wary of them. Don’t sell out your happiness to worldly things. Figure out quickly what makes you truly happy and never ever forget them or take them for granted. Treat them like the treasure they are and keep them close.

Thanks for listening

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Back to running

Given the title of my blog I suppose I should write about running again. I'm coming out of a difficult time but I've been running and actually running pretty well. I set myself on a goal to qualify for Boston (again) and I've made some significant progress towards that goal. Funny how tough emotional times can being down one side of you but motivate and build up other sides.
I'll have more detail in another post, just wanted to check in and say hello. I've got a long way to go in both my running and my emotions, but like a marathon, you have to take each step as they come until you reach the finish.
Thanks for listening