Sunday, September 22, 2013

'Twas the Night Before the Marathon

Tonight was supposed to be my runner's Christmas Eve. I pushed my body to its absolute limit week after week for months prepping for what was supposed to be my first marathon tomorrow. And then came the injury I've already shared with you.

What's the saying? Sometimes the best laid plans?

My brother in law gave me a note as a joke (which would result in a pretty valuable lesson) on my 16th birthday. The note promised me a new car. Tomorrow. 

No new car tomorrow. No marathon tomorrow.

Tomorrow isn't promised. We have today. We have now. And that's really all we know for sure. The challenge for all of us lies in finding the delicate balance of living and loving in the present while pursuing tomorrow's goals and dreams.

I've been thinking about the marathon all day. My running partner stopped by today with a gift for me, a charm key ring. On it is a charm that reads, "Sole Sisters". There's also a 5K charm on it for our first 5K together and a 15K charm for our last race together. And safely wrapped under the cotton of the box was the 26.2 charm.

She will be putting on her 26.2 charm after tomorrow's marathon. And I will be there cheering & waiting for her with my big sign at the finish line.

But that teenie tiny 26.2 charm at the bottom of the box is the essence of our running partnership and friendship. It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever been given.

The small charm tucked away in the bottom of the box was a reminder to me, in her one-of-a-kind-way, that it's not a question of if I make it to the finish line. It's a question of when. 

There is no greater gift you can give someone than believing in them.

There's no doubt running with her tomorrow would have been amazing. Finishing a marathon is a bucket list item for me. I've been on my way to the marathon for a really long time. Tonight I can't help thinking about how awesome my journey has been. I'm so grateful that I've been able to find value and meaning in nearly every single moment along the way. 

I've had some grueling runs that have taught me what I'm really made of. Running has ignited a fire and a passion in me. I've met some amazing people through my blog. I've forged what I know will be a life long friendship with my running partner.

In the 500 plus miles I've run in my training, I've run out my frustrations, my fears and my anxiety. 

I've run off the weight I wore to protect myself. 

I've run through grief and a breast cancer scare. 

I've run into a new body and a new confidence. I've run into my passion for writing. New friends. New opportunities. New strength. A whole new life.

My neighbor also stopped by this morning. He was one of the fastest distance runners in the US at one time. He qualified for the Olympics and represented the US 3X in the world half marathon championships. I don't know him well. And I doubt he has any idea I know about his running record. But I love listening to him. He's humble, no nonsense but kind, and a straight shooter.

He had simply asked me this a few days ago when I told him I was thinking of running with my fractured rib & injured leg.

You want to run your first marathon with a broken rib and injured leg? Do you want to enjoy it?

Today upon hearing my decision to not run tomorrow and wait to heal he simply said, "It takes a lot of strength for a runner to not run."

I never get the grandiose "aha" moments you see on TV. They rarely come from the million and one self help books I've read. The wisdom I receive almost always comes from the people and places I least expect. It comes from the guy next door, or the homeless guy I accidentally touch as I am handing him a buck, or the little old lady at the community kitchen crossing the street.   

'Twas the night before the marathon.   

And tonight I am feeling excited for my running partner, content with my decision, and confident I will savor every moment on the road to the marathon finish line whenever my time comes to cross it. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pity Party of One

The wind blew jingling my mom's wind chimes hanging on the back porch. I immediately felt the urge to write. My mom wrote great poetry and I never really appreciated how hard that is until today. Blogging is a different kind of hard. Words can make you vulnerable but there's room in writing for explanation to ease your fear. Poetry is like music. It puts your feelings out there without extra words or explanations. Both just come from your heart and speak to your heart, not your brain. So I'm trusting you will read this with your heart, not your brain. 

Pity Party of One
by: Darcey Corkins-Elias

Pity party of one
Unable to run.
Bridger of the distance
Easer of the pain
Accept things as they are
Close the door
Try to keep sane.
The chase
Kept you running  
Too hopeful a pace
To destination anywhere
Or some island escape.
Give in. Your chance has passed
Like a love
You swore would last.
The distance grows
As you sit still
Leaving a hole 
You cannot fill.
The wind in your face
The passion you feel
It's gone
For now
As you wait to heal.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Running, My Mom and Finding Nemo

The theme of letting go has been popping up pretty regularly for me. I've never been good at it. I tend to hold on tightly to everything and everyone I love. I have always viewed holding on as a measure of strength. Running and my mom are teaching me that sometimes it takes just as much strength to let go.

I just found our copy of the VHS movie, Finding Nemo. It is one of my all time favorite Disney movies. Ironically I found it while madly searching for the DVD of my mom's surprise birthday party. I miss her more than usual lately and I just wanted to see her face and hear her voice. I wanted some connection with her like I used to have in the face of a decision I have to make. Attempt the marathon with a broken rib?

If she were alive, I would have asked her what to do. Like most mothers, she would tell me I absolutely should not run it with a fractured rib. This would make me angry and I would become more determined to prove her wrong and do it. And the whole process got me out of making an adult independent decision.

And that was our dance. And she isn't here to prove wrong anymore.

I have to decide whether to run the full marathon in 2 weeks or transfer my registration until next year or run the half. I broke my rib 3 weeks ago and it threw off my whole training schedule after 4 months and hundreds of miles of religiously following it. Just in the effort to catch up with training and retrain with my fractured rib, I've managed to injure my right leg overcompensating for the broken rib on my left. I've been asking everyone what they think I should do. I didn't realize until today that I already knew the answer. And just like moms have a way of doing in life, my mom helped me realize my answer.

So as I picked up the movie, I paused for a moment and I remembered one of the many moments I had with my mom and one of the many things she said to me in the days before she died. 

"It's time to die now, Darcey"

At the time I cried and I cried and I held on to her tighter, literally putting my arms around her now 90 something pound frail body. I couldn't let go.

I felt completely powerless to help her, something I had spent my whole life trying to do. I just couldn't let go. She and I had been afraid my whole life of her dying. She had me at 43 years old and I had always noticed how much older she was than my friend's parents. I was quite a surprise, the last of her 8 children with 9 years between myself and my next youngest sibling. 

Suddenly sitting on the couch with my arms wrapped around her I felt alone in our life long fear of her dying. 

"It's time to die now, Darcey"

I was left alone, hanging on. She was letting go and I just couldn't.

As I sat on the floor of my living room thinking about this memory, a scene from the Finding Nemo movie now in my hand popped in my head. It is the scene where Dory and Marlin are inside the mouth of this huge whale. They are terrified and hanging on in the back of his throat. Dory can speak "whale" and she is telling Marlin that the whale said it was time to let go. She is preparing to listen to the whale and let go.

MARLIN: “Dory!”
DORY: “He says, “It’s time to let go!”. Everything’s going to be all right.”

MARLIN: “How do you know, how do you know something bad isn’t gonna happen?”

DORY: “I don’t!”

-dialogue from Finding Nemo (2003)

I'm sad but today it's time for me to let go of completing the full marathon this season. I have to listen to my body and trust my gut. I know in my heart of hearts my body just isn't ready to run 26.2 miles with a fractured rib. I've run 18 miles. And I'm back up to 10 miles with the fractured rib. The race registrar has given me more time to see if I will be able to make the half. I could probably finish the full, but at what cost? I would hate it and I would risk more serious injury. I would risk always remembering my first full marathon as being torture. That's not the feeling I want after I cross the finish line for the first time. I'm so grateful I have gained the confidence to put my dream out there into the world. It has taken a new courage I have found in myself through running to set a goal as big as completing a marathon. And I was over half way there! It also takes courage to know when to hold on and when to let go and heal and try again. Injury happens.

I'm hoping that maybe like Dory and Marlin in the movie, after letting go I will be shot through the blow hole of the whale and cross the finish line next season :)

And to tie in my unexplainable running inspiration that just never goes away.

"Success is falling nine times and getting up ten", Jon Bon Jovi

So my running this fall will be strictly for the love of it and I am totally looking forward to that! But I will be back soon sharing my marathon training with you once again when my body has healed and I get back up for the tenth (or hopefully second) time...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I run because...

Every once in awhile I wonder what it is about running that has hooked me. I mean if you asked me a year ago if I would run four miles 2 weeks after a fractured rib, I'm pretty sure my answer would have been something like Gary Coleman's signature line, "What you talkin bout Willis??"

Yet here I am. I fractured my rib 2 weeks ago and at 9:00 last night I found myself lacing up my running shoes, blasting my Ipod and heading out the door. It was painful. My breathing was wildly out of sync. My right leg hurt. And the pain in my rib was pretty uncomfortable. But somehow it still felt so good to be out there pushing forward. 

Why the heck is that??

The doctor cleared me to run. She assured me I wouldn't make the injury worse. The pain? That would be the big question. Could I tolerate the pain? It felt like a really bad side stitch and I reminded myself how I had run through many of those. I thought about other pain I had overcome in my life. Like... Losing my dad. Then my mom. I made it through one of the worst days of my life when I walked into a room with some people I thought were my family and I walked out with total strangers. A miscarriage. The painful realization that someone I love is just not who I thought they were.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

So I run.

I run because.........

  • Running is results driven. Effort = Results.
  • There is immediate gratification after running. Not much beats a runner's high after a long run.
  • Running forces you to spend time with yourself. You learn to get comfortable with you.
  • Running cultivates humility and gratitude. The faces of spectators with disabilities cheering at races are reminders to never take your body and ability to run for granted.
  • It's all about boundaries. You learn how to set and recognize boundaries. Start lines and finish lines are clearly marked. There is no ambiguity.
  • You learn limits when you run and you find the perfect balance of pushing them and accepting them
  • Running teaches you patience and commitment. 
  • Running teaches you how to stay in the present moment even as you are working toward a far away finish or goal.
  • Running teaches you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • Running makes you feel strong and powerful. The exhilaration as you cross the finish line is indescribable 
  • You are always looking and moving forward when you run. It is impossible to look back too long.
  • Running gives you confidence as you conquer the hill, or the race, or set a personal record
  • Running unleashes creativity. Some of my best thoughts and writing come after running. 
  • A runner's body rocks :)
And most of all.. I run because running awakens who I really am

Long run sunrise... 5:50 am