Monday, August 30, 2010

You just never know

It's Monday. As much as I SWEAR I am trying to be generally positive in my life, based on consistent evidence I have gathered for the past 11 Mondays, Mondays for me suck. I've analyzed the data, and the results suggest that some rather emotionally-challenging events have been placed in my life for nearly three months of Mondays (skewed possibly by my own bias, of course). Anyhow, I have yet to determine what exactly this means to society -- probably nothing -- yet at least the data could suggest why I have been a little bit more, um, UNHINGED, on Mondays (blurring in to some Tuesdays) this summer.

With this in mind, though I make light of it, I want to say: you never know what affect your words may have on someone... or how valuable a hug, or time spent together, can be to a person going through some really rough times.

Have you ever seen the movie "What Women Want"? There is a woman character in the movie who believes she doesn't exist, and is basically pretty desperate. The main character, Mel Gibson, has superhuman powers and figures out that she is needing to be saved; so he shows up at her apartment, gives her some kind words, a promotion, and basically saves her life. This movie character had been struck by lightening and could hear the thoughts of women -- not realistic -- BUT, my point is that you never know what interceding will do. You never know what good your words will do.

I received a thank you note from a neighbor friend the other day -- but it really was only DISGUISED as a thank you note. The note was a message communicating that she knew my summer was a rough one, and that she was there for me no matter what. No details needed, she just knew. It was the nicest "thank you note" I have ever received!

Last Thursday one of my running friends shared that in 2007 he was going through a terribly challenging time in his life, and showing up for Thursday runs with his group -- every Thursday -- kept him sane. He is a recovering alcoholic (now sober for more than 20 years) and who knows what he would have done if not for the stability of that group. He in turn told me to face my life "one day at a time," and helped me personally through that one hour which led to another, and another, and another.

Strangely enough, I found out from two other friends this weekend, and one more today, that my words had helped them get through a day when they were all wondering how that would happen.

My friend at work has such strong faith in the Lord, she knows that He is the ONLY one to keep her going. I am in NO WAY any competition for THE MAN, but maybe something I say in a day might lead her to recognizing more of God's grace in her life?

I am not saying that any of us are weak individually -- that we would not be able to pull together the strength to "get through" the day. I am just trying to say that you never know how your words will affect another person -- so choose wisely. You might be saving a marriage, an alcoholic from drinking, a faithful person from getting lost...

... you might even be saving a life.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One by one

One by one they slide off.
Not an avalanche, all at once,
but slowly, surely
like tiny pebbles falling,
then crashing at the bottom of my heart.

I remember thinking I couldn’t live without him
and all he brought to me;
dreading the thought of losing that steadiness.
I would surely stop breathing!

Now in the middle of emptiness
and sting of loss,
I am living…
rolling in rubble and ruin,
Wondering how I got here
to this wasteland
and why I should even think of breathing
after such a long fall.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pain is difficult

Pain is difficult. As humans I think we try – sometimes to our own detriment -- to avoid pain as much as possible, even if going through that short term suffering will bring us to a better place long term.

“If this were easy, more people would be doing it!” How many times I have heard that statement in reference to running, to running marathons, to running ultras. How many times have I chosen the shortest path, instead of toughening out the longer one, even when I know I would feel better choosing the longer, quality journey!

Lately, I have been once again challenged to actually train for a fast fall race (which race, not quite sure). It has been a distant goal of mine, qualifying for Boston, or just plain being “fast” in any relative sense of the word. With all the other life issues happening around me, and training to go long slow distances, I have previously dismissed the idea of testing my potential. Until now. Without realizing the scope of what I have gotten in to, I have agreed to at least follow the plan (since my plan rarely works anyhow) and see what happens in six weeks.

“It’s gonna hurt, though.” Uh oh. I will be shoved out of my comfort zone at least three times a week, logging three key workouts – track, tempo run, hill repeats. And no, Suzanne, these workouts will be REAL, they won’t be lame attempts at tempo runs, acting like just showing up at the track nets results, I will actually be uncomfortable. If I am willing to do this, he says I will be amazed. I guess I have the bio-mechanics to run well, just not the strength. Get me some strength and I will blow away my personal records.

Do I have the mental strength to take the pain? Can I do this????

Saying yes to what I at times consider a RISK (drama added for affect) is going to take training runs where I begin my stopwatch for a set time and run faster than normal for me, just a step off of race-pace, breath heavily, watching the minutes count down and wanting the agony to be done. Then just a small recovery jog for ten minutes in between, and another set time at a pushed pace. The recovery jog will likely be over more quickly than I have really recovered – but I will have to follow the plan and pick up the pace again. In my brain and in my heart I will likely be screaming, “THIS SUCKS” and I will want to turn away, to quit. I want already to go back on my decision.

Why? People do this all the time. They go through tough times, not being able to breathe, and they are all better off because of it. Why quit?

Why? Because comfort would be much easier! Logging an easy 8 or 9-miler is simple; doesn’t take a lot of thought, or planning, or decisions, or investment really, to slog away for 90 minutes. Heck, when I don’t feel like running there are times I just skip it. Apparently, according to Frank Shorter and my new coach, I absolutely must fit in my three key workouts plus one long run every week, no excuses.

Excuses I have.

But in doing what I have always done – and as the saying goes, I will continue to get what I have always gotten: a less than stellar race performance, finishing in the 60th percentile of women, being a “back of the pack” runner. Do I really want to settle for consistently below average?

Nope. I want more.

This time I need to invest. Move forward with the decision. As some would crassly say, “go balls-to-the-walls.” Day by day, I will have to face discomfort, while still believing each day it is bound to get easier.

Meanwhile, I question my decision. I sit here wondering if I can ever be above average. Perhaps I will be, while there is a heavy chance I will fail. At the very least it could be a life lesson: will pain net progress?