Saturday, August 24, 2013

Broken Hearts and Broken Bones

"Be careful in the weeks before the marathon. It's really easy to injure yourself just doing something stupid." Advice given to me by an experienced marathon runner.

Check. I always have to learn the hard way. At least I'm consistent.

So I carelessly fell and jammed my elbow into my rib. I went days refusing to go to the doctor because of 2 words. Health care. Expect a blog post on health care in this country in the near future. And you may even see me in Washington DC advocating for changes in this ridiculous system that totally screws the middle class.

Anyway, suffice it to say we have a high deductible plan & I had no desire to reach the $3,600 deductible at the end of the calendar year. I finally gave in a few days ago solely to get some medication to get a grip on the pain.

The X-rays initially showed chest contusions & left me painfully optimistic. I'm in week 15 of my first marathon training.

It's a bruise. I'll overcome it.

Ring ring this morning.

"The radiologist read your x-rays and it turns out your rib is fractured. Continue the vicadin and rest. Activity as tolerated"

The news hit me harder than the fall. The marathon is in 4 weeks.

I wallowed for only minutes which is progress for me. I was mad at myself. Embarrassed. Kicking myself.

But then I put on my gym clothes and I headed to do what I could at the Y. The doctor said activity as tolerated.

I wanted to share where I'm at. I figure that I owe it to the people that have been reading along faithfully and helping me with advice and rooting for me. This blog was intended to share my journey, the good and the not so good. There's value in both. It's easy to send the "Map my Run" to facebook when I reach a PR in distance. But if I really want to help people by sharing my journey, I need to be real. It's not a perfect journey. There are ups and downs. So many people have come such a long way with me through this process. It's easy to share success. Much harder to share pain.

So I don't know if I will make it to the finish line this year or if it will be next year. But stay tuned. I'm not ready to give up yet.

I came across this quote today and even though there's a part of me that is brokenhearted, the quote sums everything up perfectly.

"What you get by achieving your goals is not nearly as important as what you become by achieving your goals."

The person I used to be before I started running would never have believed that. So in many ways I've already achieved quite a goal.

But fyi...I'm still not giving up on the marathon :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I read an interesting article called, When to Love, When to Let Go. The title caught my attention right away. It discussed some of M. Scott Peck's thoughts in his book, The Road Less Traveled.

I had blogged about this in the winter after one of my first long runs. I have struggled with every variation of this question in all areas of my life at one time or another. When to hold on, when to let go? When to wait, when to move on? Tough love or compassion? Practice empathy if a friend hurts you or walk away? Trust your gut and love with your whole heart or try to protect yourself?

The article differentiates between “falling in love” and “genuine love.” Falling in love is called cathexis, “being attracted to, invested in, and committed to an object outside ourselves.” We can go through a "falling in love" phase with our friends or loved ones, boyfriends or girlfriends, or even our passions such as writing or running in my case. Cathexis is an illusion and is temporary. Cathexis is that initial spark and attraction to a person or passion, but it cannot sustain unless genuine love follows.

Genuine love is defined in this way, "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth."

I love that definition. It applies to love collectively. I often write about loving running. It started as a spark, seeing the really fit chick running carefree. I wanted that. It was exciting in the beginning hitting various goals in weight loss and body image. But that faded eventually. What followed for a genuine love to evolve required effort, time, and commitment. I need to extend myself for the spiritual growth I have found in something I love. True for running passions and true for relationships.

Genuine love requires action, loving actions. Genuine love requires our conscious time and attention as well as a willingness to take the risk to be vulnerable. Genuine love can't be given with the expectation that it will be returned. However the article goes on to say this. 

"We do not offer genuine love with the expectation that it will be returned, but that after enough expenditure of energy fails to elicit loving action, even when it is clear that loving feelings are present, one’s energy simply needs to be conserved."

What does that mean? Assuming the energy he refers to conserving is love, how do you conserve it? Do you with hold it? Do you give up on the person or passion? Or do you stop acting lovingly? Do you love from a distance?

First in the case of relationships, you need the ability to recognize that someone you genuinely love may not love you back. Secondly, you need to ask yourself, is he or she capable of loving me? Objectivity to see clearly in the midst of loving someone is hard. And even with objectivity and a recognition that someone isn't acting loving toward you, how do you stop loving him or her? How do you with hold it?

I found a lot of value in reading about all this. But I also found that I had more questions than answers. For me, love is undefinable. It can't really be captured with words. When I love.. I love. And I just know it in a place I can't always describe. For me love encompasses the butterfly in my stomach from the perfect kiss to the feeling of strength and satisfaction as I cross a finish line. It's the moment I saw my daughters for the first time and it is the painful goodbyes I have experienced in my life. Again. And then again. It's the feeling I get when I leave the community kitchen knowing I may have made a difference in someone's life. 

I admit I have a hard time letting go and my experience may be unique to me. I'm a distance runner. We don't give up easily. But we are also only human. I know there is a risk when I love. Like as much as I love running, I may not make it to the finish line of the marathon. But I continue to love it, push forward, wait for the injury to heal, wait for my running inspiration to return. Loving leaves you vulnerable. I get hurt. But I choose to love anyway. Just like running, love is a perfectly imperfect journey, whether it's to a finish line or a magical moment or to that someday when I'm 90, and that wooden rocking chair I want rocking right beside me. Love can't be contained. It's like water and it flows into both sides of the journey, the beginning and the end. And in that way, love really never ends.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

This is who I am

Are you an open book?

"I once was afraid of people saying, who does she think she is? Now I have the courage to stand and say, this is who I am." Oprah Winfrey

I have always thought of myself as an open book until recently. I mean come on I have a blog, right? Then I started thinking about a conversation I had with one of my friends awhile back. 

Me: I got the greatest purse while I was in Rochester waiting for Josh. I had time to kill so I mosied into this consignment shop. I love antiques and old stuff. Anyway I found a Gucci purse for 6 bucks!
Friend: That's awesome!
Me: I know, right? Who cares if it's real. I love it!
Me: (Starting to second guess sharing this) Hey don't say anything about it to anyone, okay? I wouldn't want everyone to know I like that kind of stuff.
Friend: Okay, sure.

I'm 41 years old and I wouldn't want people to know that I bought a cool Gucci purse at a consignment shop. There is something wrong with this picture. As soon as it came out of my mouth it didn't feel right. I've had a number of other similar conversations recently and they still make me cringe.

People pleaser? Maybe. Coward? Could be. Changing all that? Absolutely :)

I can still hear my poor mom, "Darcey Anne Marie, you don't need to tell everyone, everything."

Sorry, mom.

I like going to consignment shops to find cool old stuff to fix up or unique purses etc. It's fun and it's me. I like to share about my life. I like to share the stuff I struggle with and the stuff I learn. I like to inspire people. I love that an added benefit to sharing with potentially the whole world online is that I grow too. I love that as a result of sharing pieces of myself, my identity starts to take shape. It's all new for a girl who her entire life defined herself as, someone's daughter, little sister, friend, girlfriend, mother, or wife.

What you give from your heart you get back. 

I love that I'm learning who I am through the lens of running and writing. Life is so short. After losing both of my parents and a breast cancer scare, I really get that these days. Are there critics? I'm sure. I know some people may think I'm crazy or simply read my stuff to then be critical. That used to bug me but I let it go. Those people are usually the same closed folks that read and talk about other people's posts on social networks yet never share any of their own life. In the end I realized it defines who they are, not who I am.

There is no better feeling than getting an email from someone I don't personally know saying how I inspired him or her to start running. Or a message from a reader that lives in another part of the world that sends me some positive encouragement.

Am I an open book? Not completely but I'm working on it! I do think my mom was right in that there are some deeply personal thoughts that are best to stay in the privacy of my heart. But just the same, I also know the more moments I can find the courage to say, 'this is who I am', the happier I will ultimately be.

And it's a cute purse, right? :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The middle: Hal Higdon Marathon Training week 11-12

I hate the middle. I hate the middle of anything. I have a very hard time being clear and focused and confident when I'm in the middle of something. I want to give up and quit. Period. I like things done yesterday. There is a middle part in every run and I realized early on that I needed to learn to get comfortable being in it. Some people can naturally envision the finish line and are motivated by it to keep going when they hit the middle. That wouldn't be me. My natural tendency I struggle to overcome is fear and self doubt when I am in the middle. I have a hard time seeing the forest through the trees. 

I think it started as a kid when I felt in the middle of my parents divorcing. They divorced back in the 70's, let's just say not in the most amicable of ways. Life went something like this at 5 years old: two weeks settled in living with my mom then every other weekend with my dad. I would cry on Saturday mornings at 10am when I left my mom not wanting to go and leave her. And then I would cry Sunday afternoon at 4pm when my dad returned me to my mom not wanting to leave him. Worst. Time. Of. My. Life.  Feeling stuck at 5 years old smack dab in the middle of the 2 most important people in your life sucked.

So yip. Probably why I hate the middle.

Moving on.

So shockingly, (said sarcastically) I'm struggling being in the middle of my marathon training. I'm anxious and squirrely and I haven't been able to pin point why until today's run. Today as I ran I felt like puzzle pieces were flying at me and I wanted to stop and write them all down so I wouldn't forget. Unfortunately I couldn't so here are the pieces I remember and how they fit for me. This happens to be my specific baggage I've shared but you could substitute your own at any point when you run. It all just starts fitting in and making sense in some weird way. 

Week 11-12 Hal Higdon Marathon Training

Physically I went from really tired to energetic to tired again. The 16 mile long run last week was the toughest I've ever experienced physically and emotionally. I almost quit. I think being that close to quitting after coming so far scared me. I started questioning whether I can do this. Running had helped me quiet the fear monster inside me but he reappeared after the 16 mile run.

I decided that the fear monster lived near the start line for me. 

Exhausted. Sore knees. Pain in my hips. 2 purple toe nails. Pretty, huh? My inner girly girl found some cute pink nail polish to hide the toe thing :)

What are you doing? You are 41 years old. You are too old to try to run a marathon. There is no reason to keep going. You will injure yourself. You won't be able to run and all the weight you lost will return. Nobody cares about your running or your writing. Stop this craziness.

Enter the finish line fairy.

You can do this. Look how far you have come. You are finally learning to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. "When you are too tired and sore to run with your legs... run with your heart" Open your eyes and appreciate all the support you have from the people that love you and care about you that are waiting for you at the finish line.

Kids are powerless being in the middle. Adults aren't. You are only in the middle for as long as you choose to doubt yourself and stay there. 

I think I can almost see the finish line in the distance.