At the beginning of the week I started running two ten minute intervals with a three-minute walk in between. That was two minutes longer than I had ever run before and it intimidated me. On my first run, everything seemed like it was going fine. I finished the first ten minute interval without too much of a problem and was half way through my second, when for some reason I started walking. Now usually I am arguing with myself the entire time I’m running, one part of me saying how I should just walk for a bit until I’m less tired and the other part of me saying no, we are not stopping, we can do this. This time there was no argument, my legs just stopped running. I walked for a while and thought, that’s okay I just needed a little break. I started running and in less than a minute there I was walking again. What was going on? I finished up my run but the feeling of failure was overwhelming and I went home disappointed in myself. Once I got home I realized that before I had even started my run for the day I had given myself permission to quit. I told myself that ten minutes was too long, that it would be too hard and if I needed to, I could just walk. It’s not like anyone would know I failed. Except I knew. And it sucked.
The thing about quitting is that once you do it, it becomes easy. I could see how quickly I could go back to giving in any time things were hard. The first time I started walking may have been excusable, it was hot and I was struggling, but the second was just about me not liking how uncomfortable I felt. I didn’t believe that I could finish the run and I proved myself right. I started out thinking it was impossible and because of that, it was. Walking back to my car awash in my failure, I realized that this feeling of regret was not worth the thirty seconds of easy breathing walking gave me. I knew if went home feeling like this again, I wouldn’t be running anymore.
The next day, I headed back out to the lake determined to redeem myself from the previous day’s failure. I told myself there would be no walking. Even if it meant that I slowed down to a snail’s pace, it would be a jogging snail’s pace. With my goal clearly in mind I completed my run without walking a step and without wanting to. I found the void quickly that day and it carried me through to the end. The feeling of pride was almost indescribable. I was so thoroughly elated with my accomplishment that I was grinning the entire way back to my car, despite the sweat dripping down my beet-red face. That’s why I keep doing this, so that I remember what I can accomplish when I believe in myself. My next run that week was twenty minutes straight with no walking at all, and I did it. Amazing.
I’m happy to report that even though I fell behind on my blogging, the same fate didn’t befall my jogging regime. I’ve been keeping at it, running three times a week and increasing my interval time. I’m up to running 10 minutes at a time, a feat I would have sworn was impossible a month and a half ago. I am continually impressed with my body’s ability to adapt to new challenges. Running has given me a new appreciation for this body I inhabit. Despite its many flaws and my many abuses of it, it is stronger than I ever imagined and willing to change to suit my whims. It’s really quit remarkable.
The thing I’ve discovered that I love most about running is that moment when my thoughts finally cease and the only sounds I hear are the pounding of my feet on the pavement and the solid rhythm of my breath in my ears. I’ve never found anything that was able to quiet my brain. There is always a voice, endlessly questioning, always supplying a constant commentary on everything around me. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but my mind is persistently narrating the the world as I see it, and it is so wonderful to have finally found a way to escape the din in my mind. I’m reading a memoir by Haruki Murakami titled “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”. He calls the quiet place the void and he says ” I run to acquire the void” and I feel exactly the same way. I feel like I’m running in pursuit of the void, and when it finally comes, it’s bliss. It is like my mind and my body are at war, with my body pushing forward while my mind does everything to get it to give up and quit. The void is my body’s triumph over my mind and it’s a magical moment.
That’s what keeps me going. As I’ve said before, I’m a person of whims. I quickly adopt new pass-times out of impulse and just as quickly abandon them when the novelty has worn off. When I decided to start running I was doing it because I wanted to be able to have a beer(or two) with dinner without feeling guilty and because I wanted to prove to myself that I could. What I found is immensely more rewarding than anything I expected and what keeps me going back out there even though it’s hard.
I’m back! I know it’s been awhile since my last post but my life was totally over loaded and blogging was not on my list of priorities. Between school, David and trying to keep us ahead of the growing pile of crap in the house that threatened to consume us all, I just didn’t have any time to form my thoughts into coherent sentences for your enjoyment. But I did it, I managed to finish the thirty pages of research papers, kept David fed, clothed and entertained, and no one ran out of clean underwear. Bonus! But now that summer is here, I find that my stress has been replaced by boredom.
Maybe I’ve just become used to having too much to do. That nagging feeling in my stomach that was always there reminding me of all that still needed to be done is gone. Now I have a very similar feeling in my stomach that reminds me of the guilt I feel over all the free time I have. Free time seems to make me uneasy. Before the semester was over I would day dream of all the things I would do with David once summer came. We are now at the beginning of week two of summer break and I’m all out of ideas. I’ve played ball, bubbles, and cars. We’ve gone to the beach, zoo and park. We’ve pretended to be a monkey and a bird. We’ve fed the ducks, pet some dogs and smashed a lady bug (whoops). We’ve even sat on the potty a few times but haven’t put anything in it. I think David believes that the only reason we sit on the potty is to read stories. Not the progress I was anticipating.
What I wish is that I could find a way to balance motherhood with all the other aspects of my life. I seem to exist in a perpetual state of guilt. I volley between guilt that I’m not dedicating enough of myself to David and guilt over everything else that goes neglected. Maybe that’s part of being a mom, always feeling like there isn’t enough of you. A feeling I am very aware of now that I’m not preoccupied with identifying the similarities between Shakespeare’s Othello and Aristotle’s Poetics.
I do realize that I have high-end problems. I am completely blessed to have a husband who works his ass off so that I can stay home and blog about having too much spare time. I’m sure he wishes he had the same complaints. Have I mentioned how completely amazing my husband is lately? He really is the greatest person I have ever known and I’m still flabbergasted that I managed to get him to marry me. He’s the person I always wanted but never thought I’d find. And here I am, amidst all this happiness, complaining about being stretched too thin. Enough of that bullshit, I’m going to go play ball and give thanks for this life I have.