11.25.2009

Miles to go before I sleep...



I have a new respect for the disciples. You know, the guys featured pretty prominently in the New Testament Gospels.

Not so much because of what they did – although thanks to my good friend Macker, who’s on a mission trip in Myanmar (the country formerly known as Burma) right now, that’s also been part of my current mental ticker.

No – my newfound respect comes because of how the disciples did what they did. Physically.

The walking. Miles and miles of walking. Hot, exhausting walking. Done by men on a mission. Either barefoot or in mildly uncomfortable shoes.

Oy.

A couple of days ago, I started and finished a long long long long long walk myself.

A half marathon, to be specific. Thirteen point one miles. Don’t forget that point one. It’s important.

Hardest thing I’ve ever done physically. Yes, I’ve given birth to a premature baby. But thanks to better living through chemistry (morphine FTW!) and a tiny guy (one pound, 10 ounces), that wasn’t a physical toll.

This was.

Oh boy, was it ever.

Y’all – I got sore in places I didn’t even know I had. And then some.

I’m still processing the whole experience. Here’s a fun fact that I discovered, though: undertaking something as daunting as starting and completing a half marathon is almost as much about your mental training as your physical.

Ugh.

It really was the good (more on that in a minute), the bad (Heat! Boredom! Blood blisters!) and the ugly (having 40+ years of baggage and crap come bubbling to the surface as I pounded the pavement is ugly, at the very least)

At the pre-race expo, I saw a t-shirt similar to this one >>>>>

No shit.

I’m introspective anyway – but putting my body through such paces sent my mind into overdrive.

Apparently I’m not the only one who had such an experience – the other members of Team Janey – my trainer and my brother -- tell me that every runner/walker/marathon try-er goes through the very same thing.

Whew. At least I’m not as nuts as I thought I was. About mile seven – which was, in a little piece of Freudian irony, exactly in front of my childhood home – I was about to pack it in and give up.

But I didn’t.

I wouldn’t say I completely left my angsty baggage behind on the mean streets, but I unloaded a whole mess of it.

So that’s the ugly. I’ll spare you the details of the bad. You can thank me later.

About that good.

My brother had shared with me that the running community is exceedingly supportive. And he was right. I got “atta girls” and claps and cheers and affirmations as I slugged along, the pain and hurt evident on my face and in my gait. No one made snide comments about my pace or effort. There were no snarky and mean-spirited references to Rosie Ruiz or other such things.

It was all about the race. The effort. The journey. And me doing MY very best.

Right about Ugly Mile Seven, we encountered a woman who was running along the waterfront path – doing her own thing. Not part of the race. My internal struggle had seeped onto my face and was evident to all who saw me. She stopped and made a very kind and constructive suggestion about me finding some ice to help cool me down – then went on her way.

All along the rest of the race route, I looked for ice. Lukewarm water (which was delicious) and hot Gatorade (yummy!) were everywhere. But no ice.

As we hit mile 11 or so, which was in the parking lot of Tropicana Field (home of the Tampa Bay Rays), my brother and trainer noticed the woman from the waterfront running, this time with a backpack on. And before we knew it, she came up along side me, unzipped her pack, gave me some ice, putting it down my back and in my hat, and then ran off, saying that she wanted to help me finish the race.

She had gotten said ice and come looking just for me. Me. A woman she didn’t know. Who was in the midst of a soul-searching cathartic experience. And who needed a friendly hand to help propel her along.

My very own guardian angel.

Yes Virginia, there are such things as angels. Even in trainers and dri-fit shirts.

Many of the lessons I learned during this experience haven’t manifested themselves completely. That may take a while. Which is fine. It’s my own personal onion – I’m peeling away layers and crying as I do it.

However, I did come to the realization that it’s OK to ask for and – more importantly – accept help. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s part of being human. At my most physically taxed moment in perhaps my entire life, I needed help. And it was freely, joyously and abundantly given.

And the only position I could take was to accept it.

In my weakness, I found strength.

Who could ask for anything more?

Not me.

And now – it’s on to the next goal. There are other obstacles to conquer and more pounds to lose and new things to accomplish.

Let’s GO!

4 comments:

bronsont said...

:) Go Janey!

Cylithria said...

so very, very proud of you!!!! Your strength and determination through this has been inspiring and you truly are a magnificent woman!

Sprezzatura said...

Inspirational: You.

That is all.

Crystal said...

Congrats on finishing the half! I'm working towards running one next December. It's half mental training and half physical. Last night I looked at the course map and was amazed at how big it was, and how I couldn't imaging myself doing it. It was then pointed out to me that a year ago I couldn't imagine running at all, let alone the two 5ks I ran this year.

I started running last February and was amazed that while my running pace is only a little faster than most people's walking pace, no one in the running community has said I'm slow. In fact, the only person who has made any comment about my speed was some douchebag on Facebook.