Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Marathon Training: The Other Side of Halfway

Halfway through marathon training was hard for me. In case you didn't notice I even stopped doing the one thing I love most, writing. You would think getting halfway would feel good, right? It did for a minute. But true to my personality, the sense of accomplishment didn't last long. My mind immediately went to the worry, "Oh no, the scary part is next. What if I can't do it?"

My old fear of the middle stuff.

Man, I really don't like that about myself. I struggle regularly with trying to stay present and in the moment. I wholeheartedly believe the now is all we really ever have for sure. And yet even knowing this in my heart I still catch myself looking ahead. 

I need to stop that.

That's actually one of many reasons that I run. Running is teaching me what it feels like to be present. When I am running I have to be totally grounded in the present moment to be successful. If I look too far ahead on a long run I start doubting my ability to finish it. In order to be successful I need to concentrate on my breathing and let my thoughts come and go freely. Running is like meditation for me in that it connects me to the, "I am". I'm actually a little jealous there are people out there that don't need to run 2 hours to get to that place :)

I hated that instead of being hopeful when I hit halfway, I felt fearful. I have hated the middle of anything ever since I was a little girl and I was often forced to choose between stuff little kids should never have to choose between. Mom or dad? Worst. Time. Of. My. Life. I've lived with the consequences of that choice my entire life. It is probably the one single choice that most shaped the person I grew up believing I was and what I struggled most with.

It only started to fade when I started running at 39 and I decided I would finally choose myself. I define who I am.

So suffice it to say I get it now why I struggled with the middle of my training plan.

The next run after hitting halfway was supposed to be an easy 7 miler. No big deal, right?

I found myself deep inside my mind during that run. It was a really strange feeling. I was keenly aware of the disconnect between my body and my mind. 

My body felt good. 
My body felt strong. 

My mind felt weak.
My thoughts were wildly out of control.

It seemed so strange to notice the disconnect between the two. How do you even do that? I have read quite a bit of Eckhardt Tolle and Marianne Williamson and the idea that our thoughts are based in love or fear. Fear is of the ego. Maybe it was my ego screaming at me? 

I really had to fight the urge to stop. My furthest run of all time was 18 miles last season during my first attempt at marathon training. It was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done physically in my life, right up there with giving birth to my 2 daughters! And keep in mind I had both girls naturally without any medication! I'm no wimp, you guys! Seriously though, 18 miles was right in the labor category toward the end. 18 miles is like a big scary monster I have been carrying. 

How will I ever run that, let alone 8.2 miles beyond it? 

Maybe I don't need to worry about that right now. 

Back to the 7 mile run.... So while running at mile 5, I started thinking about my mom. All of her life she was afraid to die. She spent a great deal of time worrying about it. This was always hard for me to understand considering her deep faith in God. But she was terrified and I took on the role of her protector as a kid. When we would lay on the couch at night I always listened for her breathing if she dozed off. I would tell her I was sure she would be one of those women that lived to be 100. I mean even in her 70's she didn't have a gray hair to speak of on her head. She wore heels higher than I could walk in and short skirts that showed off her killer legs.

She beat cancer
And again
And again.
And yet again.

Until she didn't any more.

And even with all the worry and all the protecting I spent years doing, the day still came when I found myself powerless and sitting next to her on the couch.

"It's time to die now, Darcey", she said with the strangest combination of  letting go, defeat and acceptance in her voice, all mixed in one.

At mile 5 the sound of her voice popped in my head.

"It's time to die now, Darcey"
"It's time to die now, Darcey"

But I guess that was all I needed. With that thought I let go of the worry on how I will get to the finish line of the marathon. I let go of the 18 mile monster and I finished my scheduled 7. 

Life is short and worry is useless. I think at 42 years old I am finally starting to get that. 

Something changed in me after I pushed through the middle of my training. I found the other side of halfway. I made it to the other side with a renewed sense of strength and courage.

I got my mojo back and I went on my first vacation in 5 years! Here's a peek to lighten the mood & in case you're curious :)

The start of a very long drive to the beach!

Me & my babies at the beach!

Selfie with the big guy!

Bucket list beach run!

My beautiful Lizard

Livvy Lu

Hangin with my Livvers

Pool time

Long run sunrise

I'm now in Wk 12 of the 18 week Hal Higdon Marathon Training Plan and I feel this new confidence and drive to keep going. I was out on my 16 mile long run this past Sunday and I realized 2 things. 

First, every single long run my mom dies.

I don't think about it intentionally, but in my mind the process of our relationship and her death play like a movie every long run. Somehow and somewhere along the road, we say hello and goodbye again. We say I'm sorry. I miss you. And we make all that was wrong, right again.

Somewhere during every single long run my mom dies, but I also realized today that at the end of every single long run, I live.

This marathon training is really proving to be as good for my soul as it is my body. See you next week :)

Me! On my very first  beach run, a long time dream of mine