Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Running Because It's Fun!

My professors have been stressing the importance of self care while we are going through our practicum.  As I said in my last blog, I had decided to make a weekly hike a major part of my self care plan.  I would go with family, with friends, or by myself but I would go.

I have this amazing group of friends that are so encouraging and supportive.  I treasure these friendships tremendously, as I'm sure anyone who has read a few of my posts can tell.  I also have the most wonderful husband who loves me and believes I can do anything I set my mind to.  Which is good because sometimes I don't think I can and he reminds me that I can.  He is starting to gear up his training for Ironman Canada in July but he is making a huge effort to include me in that training by working his training schedule around my hiking days so that we can do something together.  I'm not sure he knows how much that means to me.  

I planned a hike with my friend Kristy and then let people know what we would be doing in case their plans coincided so that they could join us.  Joe decided to ride his bike over to where the hike was going to start and then hike with us.  Josh and Wendie were hiking too but were planning on hiking the uphills and running the downhills.  There were others out and about on the mountain working on various training plans.  Sometimes it's just fun knowing we are out there at the same time, even if we don't see each other.  

When Wendie told me about her plan to hike up and run down the hills I started thinking.  Hmmmm, I wonder how I would do if I did that?   I wonder how far ahead of me they would be?  This may not seem like crazy thoughts but considering how little running I have done it seemed a bit out there.  I didn't say anything to Joe or Wendie because I didn't want to feel like I had to try and keep up.   

We were doing the vineyard loop and chose to head up the right hand side.  Going this direction has us going uphill at the start and again at the end.  We hiked and talked and laughed all the way up the hill.  Josh and Wendie took off running at one point on a short downhill and then doubled back to meet up with us again.  I still hadn't decided what I wanted to do.  I knew that Kristy and Joe would stick with me if I just kept walking, especially since I hadn't said anything about running.  I think there was a part of me that was testing out how I would feel about being "left behind".  There were no  "poor me" or "I can't do this" thoughts in my head.  I really have turned the corner on that, glance at it once in awhile in my rearview mirror but it's not front and center anymore.  That's a pretty great feeling.  
Kristy was worried that her pack was too bright.  You hardly notice it if you are with Joe and his bright yellow pants!
The road doubled back and started heading back to the Saddle.  Here begins the downhill.  Decision time.  I decided to start running and just see what happened.  After all, the worst thing that could happen would be that I went back to hiking.  Oh darn, hiking in the beautiful woods with my husband, my puppy and my friend?  Tough deal.  :-)  I figured it was a win/win at this point and took off.  

I was at the back of the group but not way, way back and that was kind of fun.  I managed to keep up decently and overall felt good.  I was am still working on not using my inhaler and really concentrating on regulating my breathing.  Because I haven't been running I just listened to my body, focused on my posture, my breathing and how it felt to be running.  

It felt good.  

It felt fun.  

It has been a long time since I just ran because it felt good and fun.  It made me happy.  It's been a long time since running has made me happy.  I was with people I love, my dog was being a silly, happy puppy and I was running....just because I wanted to.  No agenda, no race, no training plan, no pace requirement.  

Just moving. 

Pushing myself.

Because it felt good to push myself.  

We got to a hill and Wendie started hiking.  Thank God.  I was loving the running but it's been awhile so I was happy for the break.  Each time we started running I worked a little harder at trying to keep us with Wendie.  She sets a quick steady pace.  (Hoping that by the time summer gets here and we can run on Thursdays together I can keep up with her.) :-) There was a couple of times that I was able to keep pace with her for a short time.  I even ran up a couple of short hills.  It was fabulous.  I was pooped!  I had a blast.  :-)  
I had taken my phone out of my pocket and must have hit the pause button on Nike+ on accident so it didn't get my pace for the last mile where I was really trying to see how fast I could go.  And I had been fiddling with the settings on my Garmin watch and messed something up so it recorded the time we hiked but that is all.  At first I was bummed and then I wasn't.  I focused on how it felt instead of what the numbers on a read out said. 

It felt good just to be moving faster and I was so excited by the fact that I did SO MUCH better than I thought I could.  I may not be running on a regular basis but the weekly hikes and staying active at work have kept me from having to completely start over.  This gets me excited about getting going again in April.  And the majority of my Nike+ showed that I had negative splits on every mile of the hike and that includes the first half which was all uphill.  Winner!  :-)
It is so easy to spiral into negativity or depression and it often takes time to dig your way out.  For those of us that struggle for time to time with depression it can take a little more time to do that.  Having patient, supportive people around while digging out of the hole you have created is such a blessing. 
It is also easy to spiral up into happy and positive energy.  The light feeds off of itself in much the same way the dark does.  But it's such a better experience.  Things are a lot chaotic for me right now. Juggling work and practicum and family is a lot.  And in spite of that I'm really in a good place.  My husband has been Ah-May-Zing about letting me have my "I'm completely stressed out and can't do this" crying jags and then kicking me in the ass and telling me that I can and will do this.  That's just part of how I handle stress and I am fortunate we have been married long enough that he knows exactly how to handle me when I'm like that.    Well that and the occasional migraine and a really bad case of zits.  Geez, I feel like I'm 15, not 45, with pimples all over my face. And in spite of the stress, and being super busy, and only getting to hike once a week, I'm happy about where I am with my health and exercise.  

I'm doing the very best I can with the time and energy I have right now.  And it's enough.  There will be a time when I can do more and that will be fun.  But right now I have cut myself a TON of slack and am enjoying the feeling.  I have learned to be happy where I am at right now.  That doesn't mean I plan to set up camp and live in this place.  But it's nice to know that I can focus on other aspects of my life and still feel like I am making progress in my health in small ways.

Last summer I was feeling guilty for not doing EVERYTHING at an amazing level.  I ended up feeling like I was doing EVERYTHING at a crappy level.  When I let some things go and focused on the things that needed my full attention things got better.  When I stopped worrying about what I thought everyone else thought I should be doing to be healthy (did that make sense?) things got better.  My journey is not going to be like other people's journey.  I have no idea where I want my journey to go but I'm excited about all the possibilities.

Last week a friend texted me about my hike up to Fitton Green last week.  I told her that I did good and that it was a really steep hill.  I said I didn't know how all you crazies run up that stupid thing.  She said something along the lines of I could do it too, just have to work at it.  I laughed.  The thing I realized and is now crystal clear is that I don't WANT to run up that stupid hill.  No desire.  Not my challenge, not my goal, not my obstacle to overcome.  I have routes that have hills that I do want to run up.  Trails that I think that I might be able to work at running more and hiking less.

But I don't want to be an ultra runner.

Or a marathoner.

Or an Ironman.

I just want to be a healthier me.  I don't know exactly what that is going to look like later but the decisions I have made about my health are right for me and where I am at right now.  The things listed above may eventually end up on the "I want to do that!" list.  But right now I'm just going to enjoy cheering on all the crazies that do want to do those amazing things.  I will live vicariously through them and be proud of all that they accomplish on their journey!

Three and a half weeks of my practicum done.  Only (ha!) seven and a half to go.  :-)  I signed up to do a 10k trail run next week at the coast.  Can't wait to see how it goes and enjoy the day.  My sweet daughter is doing it as well.  Joe is doing a 25k.  I LOVE that we are doing these things together!

Life is good.  :-)

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