Wednesday, April 1
Running in the desert.
Friends, I'm so proud of my sister-in-law for recently completing her first half marathon. And, as if running 13.1 miles isn't enough, she did it in Zion National Park, the freaking desert. Literally.
She and Barry (My bro-in-law ... Uh, (important clarification) they aren't married. They're Trevor's little brother and little sister) ran 13.1 miles through (have I mentioned this yet?) THE DESERT.
Can you tell I'm impressed? And proud?
Here they are in all their post-race glory.
(Yes, I know, they're adorable and, yes, they're both single. Applications to date them can be submitted to me.)
Well, having never run a half marathon and most certainly never having run through the desert (I was nervous just driving through it on Trev and I's cross-country road trip - what if we run out of gas?? and water?? and kettle corn??), I was not in any way qualified to give any advice whatsoever.
But, since I am approaching the 1 year anniversary of my love affair with running and since I do like putting on my "big sister shoes" from time to time, I had a few words of encouragement for Alicia before the race.
I'd like to share them with you, dear reader, because while they apply to running, I think they also apply to some of the other hard things of life... like sticking with a job you might not love or the hard moments of marriage and motherhood, walking through a season of grief... you know, those types of things.
Here are the things I said to Alicia.
1). "Remember that there is no pressure. None. Maintaining your pace and breathing steadily is all you have to think about. When I find myself trying to go too fast, I focus on standing up straighter, pushing my shoulders back and letting my feet go first. Leaning forward and straining are wasted efforts."
Isn't this true, friends? Geez, if we could all just slow down a little bit. The straining, the leaning forward, the constant pressing to speed up. Are these the best uses of our effort? Or would it be better to settle into a pace that we can maintain with joy, peace and freedom?
This morning, I read a Huffington Post blog that was very, very good. The author was talking about how she really struggled when her second child was born, how she didn't like the mom she was during that first year of the baby's life and how she felt like she was always striving to keep up, be in control, maintain order.
She said she learned the value of "settling in", rather than always striving.
For me, settling in looks like laying on the floor in the playroom, observing and pretending with my children and letting the chaos sort of wash over me. I don't have to be above it, trying to control it. Sometimes, I can just sit in it, take deep breaths and watch what happens.
Settling in looks like sitting on the couch and watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with Lydia rather than being afraid that I won't get the floor swept or the dishes washed.
It means letting the raised voices get a little out of hand if doing so will allow the girls to work out their disagreement without my intervention.
It means having the courage to let things get a little out of control from time to time. Dear reader, settle in. Maintain your pace. Be free of striving.
2). "Enjoy the scenery and think positive thoughts. Think of being thankful for your breath, your strong, beautiful body and your capable legs."
Running has opened my eyes to gratefulness for my body in a way that nothing ever has before. As I run, I truly whisper blessings over my body. Do I sound a little kooky right now?? But I mean it! I really do this!
"Thank you, legs, for your efforts on my behalf."
"Thank you, dear lungs. You are so powerful!"
"Thank you, strong core, for holding me up."
"Thank you, heart, for pumping blood to all my parts."
"Without you, my amazing body, I couldn't experience the joy of running."
For a chubby girl who can always find something negative to say about my body, I've found these moments to be positively refreshing.
What can you find to be grateful for?
3). "Try not to think about the finish line. Be present at mile 3, mile 6, mile 12... Try to enjoy the journey. Even if you run another half marathon through the desert someday, no day will ever look the same as this day does. The finish line will come."
No explanation needed there, ya'll. The finish line will come.
So, what about today?
I mean, really, who knew that running could be so educational?
And, like, applicable to real life?
Maintain YOUR pace.
Think happy and thankful thoughts.
... even in the desert.