And right now I feel myself being pulled down into something, I feel myself struggling with heartache and so much confusion that I don’t know what is up and what is down sometimes. Right now people I love are hurting, and watching them hurt makes me hurt. People I love are suffering and I feel this sense of responsibility to them – a need and a yearning to help, yet this awareness that at the same time, it is not in my control because I know that happiness is not something you can give to someone else. And it is not something another can hand to you either. It must come from within. And it must be fought for … it does not come easily. You have got to believe that you are worth it, that you deserve to feel truly happy. And then you have to make choices each and every single day that will steer you in the direction of your happiness and of your dreams, no matter how difficult that will prove to be.
I think maybe I’m not making a lot of sense right now and I apologize. I really enjoyed the time with my family – with my sisters, their husbands and their children, my mother and her husband, my husband and our sweet little ones. I spent so much time over the last few weeks hugging them tightly, laughing with them and having the best and most real conversations with them. Moments I will cherish always, moments that make me and us even stronger. I have also spent a lot of time on my own too, reflecting internally and facing parts of myself that I have not been paying attention to. This is a hard thing to do. Sometimes loving yourself, and all of your imperfections, is so much work that it drains you dry…and then at the moment when you think there is nothing left to give it all comes flooding in and you realize there is so much love there. And that you will be okay … you will actually be so much more than okay.
I hit the trails the other day, and the experience was altogether beautiful. It turned me inside out in the best kind of way. I love running for so many reasons, possibly the biggest of which is because it symbolizes so much to me in life, so much of what is in my heart. I moved across the muddy ground so quickly at times and walked carefully and so slowly over it at others. I slid on my butt and had mud all over me. I picked myself up. I crashed into myself over and over again. I danced over tree roots and rocks. I smiled. I cried. I laughed out loud as I pranced and I slid. When I felt my feet wobble under me immediately I sensed my body correct itself and adapt to the terrain. Being on the trails allows you to operate with this heightened sense of awareness yet simultaneously lose yourself and let go of all thinking. You have got to be in the moment when you are running on those trails – looking ahead will only have you falling flat on your face. Look back and you will miss the moment you are in and crash into something without realizing what just happened. At one point, I got so lost and confused and spun around that I stopped and panicked and was unsure how I would find my way home. My cell phone was with me but it died and wouldn’t work at all. I had only myself to turn to in that moment. And you know what, it all worked out. I felt scared and assured all at the same time and I found my way again.
One thing that has been on my mind lately is that when something is hard or when something is hurting you or eating at you, you have got to face it head on and you have got to go through it. There is no going around it. You can try to go around it but it will still be there, you will only come back to right where you started. When you go through it and really face whatever it is head-on, it might suck everything out of you but you will come out of it on the other side a stronger and more grateful self. More alive and more aware. You will. I believe that with all of my heart.
I am going to be spending more time in the woods in 2013. More time running on the soft earth instead of the hard pavement. I am going to explore the world around me, and as a result…the world within me.
I ran a 5k on New Years Day. It was the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of 2013 if you ask me. It was a challenging course – hilly with a few hairpin turns and it was also pretty crowded at parts. I had no expectations of myself other than to give it my best and fight for a strong race. I knew I probably wasn’t in top racing shape, having not done any speed work since the middle of October, keeping my mileage relatively low since I’ve been between training cycles and also I did not take a day off from exercise in over 10 days leading up to the race. Given all of that, I didn’t really have any idea what would happen at the 5k so I just let all of that go and decided the race would be about celebrating the new year ahead and pouring myself into something that gives me so much joy a makes me feel so alive.
The first mile clocked in at 6:05 and I felt steady and consistent. There were a couple of nice downhills in that first mile and I told myself to use them to my advantage but maintain my effort. I did not feel at all that I went out too fast. Mile 2 was a 6:28 with some ups and a sharp turn. My legs felt great. My stomach was fine. My chest burned and the cold air in my lungs was sharp and piercing – that is where I hurt. I knew I could endure it so I locked in my pace and hung on. In Mile 3, I faced some climbs and I told myself not to push hard up them – so that when I got to the top I could push with all I had. When I got to the tops of the hills I kicked it into a new gear and felt like I was flying. I passed people here and felt so strong, yet so ready to be done. The pain was holding onto me as strongly as I was pushing through it. I couldn’t escape it. It wasn’t going to go away until I crossed the finish line. So I fought with all I had. It was painful and beautiful all at the same time.
I crossed the finish line with an official time of 19:59. A new PR by a whole minute and breaking the 20 minute barrier for the first time ever! To say this was gratifying is an understatement. I ran a smart and scrappy race that day – I was tough as I could be and as joyful as ever when I finished.
Last year I ran this same race in 21:18. I grew a lot as a runner and as person in 2012. I can tell already that big things are to come in 2013 … because I am stepping up to myself, to my fears and my insecurities and proclaiming to myself that my dreams matter to me. Because I know that life is short and that the time is now. I am going to fiercely follow my heart in 2013 and open myself up to the possibilities, trusting that what is meant to be – will be. And that though it may hurt at times and though I may want to quit or gingerly step around things that are less than fun, I won’t. I will go right through it and become a stronger, happier, more real, more passionate and BETTER me because of that.