Friday, February 28, 2014

Three Years, 6,396 Miles and Three Life Lessons Learned

Today marks the third anniversary of my personal journey of reclaiming my body and my life.  The reasons I started running are as varied as the reasons I continue to lace up my shoes and get my run on week after week.  Setting goals that scare me, running wild, and finding my way in this crazy world have made the past three years of my life extraordinary.  

At the start of my very first race - The Twilight 12K
In honor of my 3rd Runniversary I'd like to share three personal lessons I have learned since I took those weak and weary first steps out the front door and into the night, where I left my insecurities behind and made the decision to move forward with my life.  Waiting for me on the other side was a whole new world of people, places, experiences, thoughts, ideas, feelings, and journeys.  

1.  Love yourself.
    Everyone has to start somewhere and for me "starting" involved an elimination diet that I began in February 2011.  Within three weeks I had something I'd lost years before: energy.  Chronic sinusitis, digestive issues, muscle and joint pain, etc. robbed me of "me".  In the years and meals that have followed abstaining from gluten has at times proved to be a very difficult challenge.  The mantra I use to overcome is: I love myself more than…..this piece of pizza, or vegetating in a coma-like state on the couch for the entire day while eating nothing but sugar and fat.  Eating right was the FIRST step in living a life that honors my body and gave my mind the strength to believe that I could be more than an out of shape, stay at home mom.  Love yourself.

2. Push yourself.  
At some point during any workout the realization that "this is hard" (still) hits me and I have to dig a little bit deeper in order to push a little bit harder and go the extra mile.  I've been the "go to girl" for many of my friends who are starting a fitness routine and one question that inevitably comes up as they become consistent is "how do I get faster?".  The answer?  Run faster.  In order to do that you have to push yourself.  Pushing myself as a Mother Runner and Triathlete has taught me to push myself in ALL the other areas of my life.  I've learned to sit with the uncomfortable feelings of doubt and push through.  I've learned how to block out the pain, soreness, and exhaustion in order to overcome what would otherwise be impossible.  There is a saying "Running is 80% Mental and 20% Everything Else".  True that, my friends.  If you tell yourself you can't, you won't.  Simple as that.  Push yourself. 

At the finish of the 2012 Big Wild Life MARATHON
(with my best friend Sara) - 26.2 Miles - Check! 
3. Be yourself. 
Back when I wore XL yoga pants to do everything except yoga I admit to making snide comments about runners in their ridiculous spandex tights and flashy accessories, jogging at a stop light to keep their heart rate up, and obsessively checking their watches to analyze the data.  When I became a runner I learned that it complimented my natural personality and I said "screw it" and joined the compression tight clad, garmin wearing crew that cheers strangers on at races, launches snot rockets like it "ain't no thang" and prioritizes sleep over other competing activities.  My natural type A tendencies are channeled into something productive and I now use my powers of task-mastering for good instead of driving other people completely crazy.  Tracking miles, paces, heart rates, and planning out my training year gives me an outlet for all that energy which would otherwise find its way into other (far less) productive areas of my life.  Another saying in running is "the distance strips you bare", the miles I've logged in my training have stripped me down and have allowed me to let it all hang out.  Cellulite - check! Vericose veins - check!  Unshaven legs - check!  Short shorts? You betcha baby!  Why?  Nobody gives a %$&! Be yourself. 

Every day each of us writes the story of our lives.  Day by day, page by page. You're either writing it or you are letting it write itself.  Personally, I'd rather write my own story than have it written for me.  What do you want your story to be? 

Cheers and (Gluten-Free) Beers Friends!  Happy Trails! 

- H.M. Wild 
Post-11 mile Run Recovery - Cheers! 
Here's an excerpt from "Born to Run" a personal short story that I wrote for Alaska Pacific University that is available at the Turnagain Currents and will be published in print April 2014. 

We’re told of the importance of  listening to our body and the messages it sends us, and it’s true—the answers present themselves if you dedicate yourself to seeking them out, but sometimes you have to play the role of firm and loving parent and tell your body to suck it up, stop whining, and keep moving.  

My heart was racing, my lungs ached as I sucked in the frozen night air, my legs were on fire, all of my body’s internal alarms were going off simultaneously and for the first time in my life I dismissed them.  As I ran the streets that night I realized if this was going to kill me, so be it, I would die trying to feel; to feel something real, to experience the pain I’d silenced, to meet my deepest fears head on and to grieve the losses I held tightly within the chambers of my heart and I would do it one step at a time, one mile at a time, one day at a time. Moving forward.  

I returned home that night, exhausted and out of breath, after covering the three streets in our neighborhood a half dozen times each, at a pace that I now use for brisk walking.  I turned from the front door and paused, entranced by our snowy tree-lined driveway.  Tendrils of frost dripped off the tips of branches and everything sparkled, each tiny speck with the power to radiate light amidst the unrelenting darkness.  Hope.

Like this?  Check out these other running related Posts on Honey Mama Runs Wild:

"You could carry your burdens lightly or with great effort. you could worry about tomorrow or not. You could imagine horrible fates or garland-filled tomorrows. None of it mattered as long as you moved, as long as you did something. Asking why was fine, but it wasn't action.  Sometimes you just do things." - Scott Jurek