Appeasing the Universe

The other day when it was snowing I made a deal with the universe. If we had a snow day I would run a 5K and clean the house.

I got my snow day. And I cleaned my house.

And then I went to the gym, fully invested in running this 5K today. And I made it about half way. And even that half way was tough.

As someone who ran a half marathon and trained for a marathon (yes, before quitting), not being able to really finish a 5K was beyond humbling. It may have even been a little humiliating.

But at the same time, I’m glad I stopped. I’m just getting back into running and I know if I would have kept going I would have been in pain tomorrow and then yet another workout would not get completed.

So I thought of a better way to appease the universe. Maybe I didn’t have to actually run the 5K today. Maybe I just had to commit to one…really commit.

So I did.

I registered for the Kelly Shamrock 5K in Baltimore. This will be the first race I’ve completed since the Turkey Trot when I was pregnant with Charlotte. Oh, I’ve signed up for a bunch since then, but I haven’t completed a single one.

This is also the first 5K I ever ran the entire race. Granted it was in 2014, but I’m seeing that as a sign.

I’m ready to do this all again.

The Resolute Quitter

Someone once told me that to write I need to write about what I know. Luckily that’s all I know how to write about anyway.

In the past four years I’ve quit every thing I’ve started. You name it, I’ve attempted it…and then quit. Run streaks? I quit by week two. Running? I used to run 25 – 30 miles a week, and now I’m lucky if I even walk two. I’ve signed up (and wasted a LOT of money) on countless 5Ks, half marathons, and marathons only to quit about half way through…when I had decided that it got too hard. Being more environmental? I’m pretty sure I threw away a pile of paper yesterday instead of recycling it because the recycling was full and I just needed it out of my house. Hell, I’ve even quit my marriage. At this point the only thing I haven’t quit is my job, but I did switch schools so maybe that counts?

I wasn’t always this way. As a matter of fact, I used to be exactly the opposite. I would make a plan and resolutely stick with it, no matter the consequence or if it was the best decision in the long run. I was just that stubborn. I would see it through to the end even if it killed me. I used to think this was one of my biggest character flaws, but now I’m not so sure. The tenacity that would once push me over the finish line has now been replaced with apathy and indifference. I would do anything to get it back.

Maybe I’ve spent so much time quitting lately that it’s just what seems normal and comfortable now. I’m used to it. It’s familiar. It’s has the feeling of that soft, comfy shirt that is completely stained and threadbare. You need to throw it away. You want to throw it away. And yet, you can’t bring yourself to do it. As if parting with that one thing is going to increase your sadness even more than it already is.

Fear has become such a major part of my life over the past few years that it is literally ingrained in my soul. The fear of failure keeps me from making the big leaps. The fear of judgment keeps me from making the choices I know I need to make, the choices that are the best for me. Fear of retribution keeps me on my feet at all times…constantly looking over my shoulder and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve spent so much of the last few years of my life being scared that I have barely lived at all. I’ve made so many goals and had so many things I want to accomplish which have all been brushed aside because of fear. And I don’t want to do that anymore.

If you know me at all, you know I love New Year’s. The blank slate, the new beginnings, the chance to start again all resonate with me on a deeply pure and spiritual level. I tend to make resolutions, grandiose goals, and big decisions all to have me eventually quit. I just can’t keep living my life like that anymore. I think this year I’m going to dump the resolutions. The changes I want to make within myself are big. Every single thing I want to change about myself I can control. And I don’t need resolutions or a New Year to do that. I can just do it. Plain and simple. It’s really that easy.

Of course, coming up with the idea to do something is the easy part. The hard part is the follow through…and that’s exactly what I plan to work on first.

The other day, as we were driving through the city on the way home, two runners crossed in front of our car. Joe’s immediate response was about how it was cold and they were outside running and that they were wearing shorts. It’s true, it was about 25 degrees…it was cold. But all I felt was the formidable tug of nostalgia. I remember thinking that I wish I was a runner. Or more clearly, I wish I was still a runner.

So you know what? I’m going to become one again.

I want.

I want to write so many posts, but I never seem to get the motivation at the right time.

I want to write about how I’m trying to rid my life of the negativity I can control and live more gratefully and gracefully.

I want to write about how I am about to start a new teaching year and I don’t even know if I want to be a teacher anymore.

I want to write about how I am trying to change my parenting style and my relationship with my kids and not get to frazzled and controlling all the time.’

I want to write about how I gave up on the marathon, and the half marathon, and I’m sincerely, trying so hard not to give up on myself.

I want to write all of this and more. But I sit down to write and feel like a fake. And like I have no idea what I am talking about.

But I wrote this and that’s a start.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll pick more and go with it.

I want to.

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Confidence and marriage and running.

We met in college.  We were in the same biology class and lab.  It was an 8 am class and I clearly wasn’t interested in impressing anybody since I showed up almost every day in my pajamas.  We became late partners (or rather a group of three) out of basic convenience…we sat near each other and it was easier than seeking out others.  I actually had a crush on the other guy in our group, but alas, he had a girlfriend.  We started studying together outside of class.  One thing led to another, and Poof!  Three years later we were married.  Now 13 years after that we are separated and headed towards divorce.

I was a mess when I was in college, even more so than I am now (for those who know me in “real life”).  I battled depression and manic episodes.  I was unhealthy.  I was “in love” with a boy from high school who was dating another girl.  I transferred schools every year or so and my debt was out of control (hi credit cards).  Because of all this, and I’m sure so much more,  I had the confidence of…well, I don’t know.  Let’s just say I had really low confidence.  And it took me a  long time (16 years to be exact) to realize this is the main contributor of me getting married and the age of 24 to my first “real” boyfriend.

In the beginning, I think I was just trying things out and having fun and then it became a dependency.  Here was a boy was was relatively normal and seemed to like me.  I’m lucky, I would think.  I don’t have to be alone anymore.  Did I love him?  I’m sure I did.  But I don’t think it was a life changing, earth shattering love.  And I know (especially now) that it wasn’t a love that could sustain a marriage.  I thought so little of my self and my self-worth that I  reveled in the attention. Someone likes me and I owe it to him to be with him.  It saddens me now thinking about how much my low self confidence contributed to this MAJOR aspect of my life.

There were times I felt that I should leave.  That I should break up with him because I knew I didn’t have what it takes to be his girlfriend and then his wife.  He deserved someone better, someone that was completely over the moon for him.  But instead I stayed.  I convinced myself I belonged there.  Someone loved me so much and I should stay with them because of this.  I worried I would hurt him and I didn’t want the guilt of hurting anyone.

In reality now, I realize I also stayed because I didn’t think anyone else would ever want me.  How horrible is that?  It took me a very long time to admit that to myself.

Our marriage was so tumultuous; up and down constantly that I couldn’t keep up.  I always wanted to leave, but never wanted to leave at the same time.  I didn’t want to be alone.  I didn’t want to have to start over.  I was safe here in this place.  Unhappy.  But safe.

I wish I knew what it was that finally made me realize it was OK to leave and that I deserved to be happy.  I know a small part of it was finding someone else who really did love me for me.  Another part was the kids and realizing that they shouldn’t be growing up in an unhappy home.

In all honesty, I think the biggest thing was that my confidence was improving and I know it had a lot to do with running.  Running made me happier and helped me become healthier, which of course led me to be more confident.  It was an outlet for my anger and frustration and gave me time to think and decide.

I loved myself during those times.

I haven’t run consistently since I began dating Joe.  I guess when I found another source of happiness running just fell to the side until it was almost non-existent.  While I am happier now than I have ever been, I miss the confidence.  I think that’s why I’m chasing running again after two years, and why I’m chasing this marathon.

I need to get that feeling back again…and I’ll make myself run until I do.

Shit’s about to get real.

*I’m writing this post for both of my blogs because it is equally pertinent to both.*

It’s gotten to that point again…the point I never thought I would be at again.  The weight is slowly creeping up and has been for the last few years, ever since Charlie was born.

It comes so slowly that you don’t even notice it.  A pound here, a pound there.  Then you realize that you are tired all the time and you just don’t have the energy to do much.  Just thinking about doing something *anything* makes you feel more tired.  You’ll do anything to NOT step on the scale (I just ate, I just showered, I’m wearing too many clothes it won’t be accurate), but when you finally do the number staring back at you takes your breath away.  And not in a good way.  Not in a John Cusack holding a boombox outside of your window way.  A sickening way.

Your clothes start to get tighter.  It must have shrunk in the dryer. Then there is no denying it.  They just don’t fit.  You need new ones.  You promise yourself you’ll just get one or two things until the weight comes off again and then you’ll reward yourself with brand new clothes to celebrate your hard work and perseverance.  Waking up is a drag because you have no idea what to wear.  Nothing really fits and nothing really looks good.  Every outfit becomes a best effort, one that your throw an over-sized cardigan over and hope for the best.

Things hurt.  Your body that you worked do hard to get healthy is now betraying you and groaning under the extra snacks and libations.  Your knees hurt.  Your hips hurt.  It is hard to get comfortable and sleep well at night.  You used to run miles after mile each week, now you loathe walking down the block when you don’t get a close parking spot.

You make promise after promise to yourself.  You will get healthier.  You will have energy again.  You will stop hurting.  You are two young to feel this way.  37 is too young to be falling apart.

But you’ll do it tomorrow.  It’s always tomorrow.  Because we always feel like we will have tomorrow.

I’m supposed to run the NYC marathon in 177 days.  Fate, destiny, a higher power, luck, whatever you want to call it, has landed me this opportunity and I told myself this is what I needed to get back again.  This would be my comeback.  I would DO THIS.

But I have 177 days until this marathon and I haven’t run in weeks.  And even though I used to run 10 miles at a time (albeit slow, but I did it), I know I can’t even run one anymore.

It breaks my heart.  More than leaving my husband.  More than my impending divorce.  More than anything, this is what breaks my heart.  That idea that I’m not who I used to be anymore.  The idea that I am not who I am SUPPOSED to be anymore.  The idea that I’m not who I was MEANT to be anymore.

It’s sobering and humiliating that I let it get this bad.  That I crashed to the bottom once again only to feel that there is no way up at all this time.  That I’ll tell myself I WILL get up and run tomorrow.  And I WILL be healthier and happier for it.

And I don’t.

I want to but I don’t do it.

Even though I know I need to.  I truly need to.  To save myself before I’m swallowed up whole again.

From the old to the new

I got my haircut today.  And registered to run the NYC marathon.  Two things that really needed to happen.

While my haircut is pretty great, we all know this isn’t what this post is about.

I earned my guaranteed entry by deferring my entrance from last year to this year.  Last year I wasn’t ready.  I thought getting in by lottery would make me ready.  It didn’t.  Life happened.  And then more life.  I stopped running. I stopped trying.  I stopped everything.

But now things are different.  I’m still not ready for this marathon.  Not by a long shot.  I’ll be one of those last finishers that everyone waits for, but I don’t care.  I’ll do it anyway and be proud of any amount of time it takes me.  Going from zero to marathon is no small feat.  I know this.

I knew my guaranteed entry was coming but I hesitated signing up again.  I would think yes, then no, then yes again, then no again…I think you get the picture.  Then the lottery opened and my emailed arrived confirming what I already knew.  And still I waited.  After posting on social media about how I was unsure of which decision to make my friends and complete strangers encouraged me: it’s a once in a life time opportunity, don’t hesitate – just do it, I have faith in you.  The words resonated with me so much and I began to think maybe I could do this.  Maybe I could “run” a marathon.

But still…I waited.  $295 dollars is no small amount of money and for someone who is paying the bills in two households, it’s more than I can waste.  What if I chickened out again?  What if the self-doubt and fear overtakes me?   What if I really can’t do it?  That’s a lot of money to flush down the drain.

And then, on whim, on a random Thursday night, I sold my old engagement ring.  A ring I had picked out and essentially paid for myself.  A ring that represented a marriage and a union that no longer existed.  A ring that was bought for a person who no longer exists.  I didn’t get a lot for it.  Not nearly as much as we paid for it almost 16 years ago.  But you know what it was enough to cover?  An entry fee to the NYC marathon as well as some left over (training gear, perhaps?).

With a few clicks of a button it was done, and I was registered, letting a piece of who I once was turn me into someone I know I can be.

NYC 2018…here I come.

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Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  I usually try and shy away from it as it tends to make me sad.  I sugar coat the past at times, putting the shiny crystal sheen on things making me think I had it better when, in actuality, I probably didn’t. Charleston, kid free times, college – all things I think back on fondly, wishing I was still there in those moments, never really remembering the times that weren’t so good.

Today, though, was different.

I’ve been contemplating the idea of accepting my guaranteed entry to the NYC marathon since I dropped out last year.  I told myself that maybe this was the year I would *actually* do it if I could just take the first step and get out the door to exercise.  Today made three days in a row and I’m pretty damn proud of myself for that.

Today is cold.  And snowy.  But I managed to get the workout clothes on and out the front door to run/walk/jog/slide for 30 minutes.

As I began navigating the neighbor streets where I now live, the neighborhood streets where I lived years ago when I first began running, the nostalgia was overpowering.  This is where it all began…my love for running.  The shiny beacon in an otherwise tumultuous time in my life where I could barely stay afloat.  And then out of the blue “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey came on and my heart stopped.

This could be the fall of 2013 when I first started running.  That song took me right back to those moments so many years ago.  The early mornings and sore legs.  The darkness of running pre-dawn.  The excitement I felt when I ran down certain streets and crested certain hills and the annoyance I felt with others.

Not only did I fall in love with running on these streets and sidewalks, for the first time I actually fell in love with myself.

This girl.

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And this one.

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The girl who completed her first Runner’s World Run Streak.

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And her first half marathon.

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The girl who was happiest and had the biggest smile when completely covered in sweat.

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This wasn’t the same kind of nostalgia that I was used to.  It wasn’t so much remembering what I had as discovering what I can absolutely have again.

With this short 30 minutes this morning I began to realize that maybe I never lost my love of running or even myself.  Maybe it’s always been here.  In this neighborhood.  On these streets, waiting for me to return.  Because this is where I belong.