Few things in life are like this

In 2015, I thought I was running the Chicago Marathon in the fall. Instead I separated from my husband.

For runners, it’s an all-too-familiar story: I ignored a nagging pain in my knee, denying its severity and pressing onward through workouts, until I hobble-walked my broken spirit into physical therapy.

For spouses, it’s also familiar: I bottled anger and unhappiness, pressing onward with hope that both would dissipate miraculously, until they spilled out like lava erupting – exposed, seething, flowing unstoppably.

I wish I could tell the younger version of myself that to press onward in denial isn’t an achievement of iron will. It’s a recipe for breakdowns. That year, everything broke down.

“You’re just not finding your path forward,” a good friend impressed upon me a little while later. I was paralyzed. I keep imagining divorce as waters to wade through, or maybe a mountain to summit. A finite journey that would reward me with an endpoint eventually. But it’s a bit more like the Robert Frost poem, where wandering through is a constant – not a clean-and-simple to and from – and you’ve taken the road less traveled by. It’s unlit, grown over and hard to navigate.

I couldn’t focus on a way forward, a simple one-foot-in-front-of-another. I deliberately, enthusiastically took this less-traveled path in a sort of desperation, and then I was dragging my feet to walk it.

I wish I could tell the younger version of myself that to not press onward, to stay put in fear, isn’t a failure of iron will. Sometimes the circumstances are bigger than you.

Like the times I’ve stopped and started running – more than I can count – because of injury, or pregnancy, or life. Every single time, restarting seems overwhelming. It’s paralyzing.

I never think I’ll be as good or fast or strong as I was before. But I always surprise myself.

Coming back to running was different this time. I wasn’t trying to force it, the way my younger self might have done. I didn’t have a plan. I stopped and started, dabbled and stalled. I came to it when I felt like it, noncommittally and sporadically. I wandered aimlessly for a bit. But I never stopped meeting it. I never stopped slowly chipping away at my paralysis.

Just like every other time I’ve returned, running greets me like an old friend, never caring about the reasons I’ve been gone or how long I’ve stayed away. Few things in life are like this.

Without even knowing how I got here, I’m building up my mileage again. I’m taking special care of my knee, making time to strengthen and cross train.

I’m careful with how I’m moving forward.

But I’m finding my way forward nonetheless. And it’s made all the difference.



Sharing a personal truth + letter to my inner runner:

When in doubt, just add miles.

Having a bad day? Feeling rundown? Can’t catch a break? Add miles.

Been a while since your last run? Unsure of yourself? No matter. Add miles.

Working out a problem? Don’t know what to do? Yeah you do: add miles.

Worried about performance for an upcoming race? Who cares. Just go for a run.

Don’t think about pace or time or even how long you plan to go. Stop and walk if you need to. It could be a 12-min or an 8-min mile, a mile is a mile. Just add on. Put them in a pile and just keep topping it in heaping scoops. They represent victories, frustrations, answers, sweat, daydreams…moments in time, droplets of life.

Be present in your run. Feel your way through. Stop obsessing over the stats on your watch. In fact, take the thing off, put it in your zippered pocket and don’t look at it until you’re finished.

Don’t think about yesterday’s run you didn’t do or the one last week when you were feeling off-kilter or the long one scheduled for this weekend. Just worry about adding miles today.

If your thoughts drift toward if I just speed up now I can finish in x minutes stop yourself. Speed up if you feel like it, but not for a matter of stats. Do it for a matter of heart. These are arbitrary numbers no one cares about but you. Just care about adding miles.

It’s true of so many other things in life: don’t overthink. Just jump in confidently.

Don’t stop until you’ve hit your goal of 700 miles for the year. Except then keep going. Keep racing at least once per month with fun being the top priority, any personal records are just a happy serendipity.

How do you become a better runner? By running. Just keep running. Simple as that.

Have a nice run.

Cowtown Half Marathon

at the front of my corral

This race? Just awesome.

Great scenery: downtown, Stockyards, neighborhoods, bridges, and everything that epitomizes Fort Worth. The energy of this massive event just feeds you, even while you’re running upward on long gradual slopes (which there are a few), panting, digging really deep, and wanting to shout “Who put this hill here? Unfair!”

My favorite part, I have to say, was running through the Stockyards. The cheering spectators and the old-timey Fort Worth ambiance give you a little energy boost in the middle. However, I didn’t really have the foresight to worry about running on the uneven brick road in my Alien Shoes (Vibram Five Fingers)…that didn’t feel great.

Continue reading

Chia, Carbs, Garmin + Zen

Half marathon training is going really well this time around. I feel like I’m growing as a runner.

I mostly credit the plan I’m following, but honestly I don’t follow it to a tee. I’m strict about the runs that I feel really count for improvement (long runs, tempo runs, mile repeats) but the others I sometimes move to different days, improvise on or – yikes! – skip altogether depending on what I’m feeling.

I’m okay with that though. Some people approach running militantly: Want to improve? Run, run, and then run some more. I come at things a little differently. There’s a beauty in knowing when to listen to your body and pull back and when to not listen to your body and push, push, push. It’s a dance, an art, a give-and-a-take, which mimics life itself. I love discovering this, for it’s very personal and there is no one-size-fits-all way of doing it. With running, less is not more, and more is not more, and intuitiveness is everything. Your potential is your canvas, your body is the paintbrush, and your runs are the creation of something amazing.

“Runners often speak of pain and of course if you want that you can have all you want merely by pushing yourself beyond your limits every time you run. It’s your choice of whether you want to run to punish your self or to experience your self. If you choose, with me, the latter, then every run can be joyful…create yourself as a runner gradually, patiently, relaxedly.” Fred Rohé, The Zen of Running Continue reading

‘Tis the season to PR

Fort Worth YMCA Turkey Trot 10K on  November 25 = 56:52

Kara, me, and our vffs

Santa Scurry 5k on December 3 = 25:32

me, kara, and our festive hats

The common PR’ing denominator here is obviously my sister-in-law. I’ve always preferred being a solitary runner and never saw the benefits of running with someone else. Until now. I’m learning other people tend to push you in ways you wouldn’t push yourself.

Plus, apparently it makes you smarter:

“…Psychologists in the US have stated that the benefits of having a training partner whilst running also include making you smarter; as you run and talk more areas of the brain are stimulated.”

It pays to branch out a little, both in running and in life.

Happy holidays and happy running.