Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 29, 2014- Twenty Miles



            Well, I did it.  It was really, really hard but I swallowed the whole whopping pill of pain.  Mentally, I needed to complete that and God let it happen.  The last lap of six miles my hubby was there with bike support once again.  I kept telling him he needed to talk to me, needed to tell me some kind of something to get my mind off of the area below my waist; it was all equally killing me- I think that’s because the course is paved, and almost three and a half hours of that pounding adds up on me.  He has a hard time with that as he is not as much of a talker.  Now, if the tables were turned and he asked me to talk… are you kidding me?  I would have my mouth flapping (as he says, “ratchet jawing”) with so much constant (and hugely interesting and provocative) noise- we would still be out there running! 
            But I think I sort of annoy him when I tell him to tell me a story or something.  Lengthy, happy stories, you know- where the princess and prince live happily ever after, at the point of a gun are not in his repertoire.  I did have to muster all my feeble energy and tell him to quit making me laugh though when, upon glancing over at me on the hill at about mile eighteen and a half and seeing I was looking like death said, “Don’t go to the light!”      
            I had to remember that bit of cheeky advice, and look away from the “tunnel of light” on the ride back home, when rigor mortis set in to everything.  Gridlock.  And it’s only through some hefty exorcism, incantations, and mental holy water that I claimed my lower extremities back from the dead and stumbled into the house.  Jim had to physically help me up the stairs to the ice bath Grace had ready for me.  And I had to go there right away because the throbbing in my legs could not be ignored.  (Oh boo woo.)  
            Stairs are the enemy.    
            And as I was sort of laughing and crawling into the bathroom, I was pathetically moaning, “Why?  Why am I doing this?”
            It certainly is a question to ponder, and yet I know the answer.  Although I feel like half of my body died today, what really happened is I lived!  I lived and accomplished something really hard.  I conquered fear.  I finished every one of those hellacious miles, stopped at the finish line, bent over to relieve my back and started to cry.  Not from the pain, but from the overwhelming gratitude that God heard my prayers, and those of all my dear ones who have been praying for me. 
            I did it.  I did it.  Of course my knee is killing me especially, and I rub it and say to God, “Please.  Just one more time.  That’s all that I ask.  (Well, we both know that’s not true, but we will pretend I want nothing else.)  One more time let me run this thing.  Let me live it.”

The wonderful White Pine signaling a mile and a quarter to go.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

March 28, 2014- I Can Do All Things



             I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST Who strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13)
I like bracelets.  The more the merrier, nice and jingly. 

             So.  My boyfriend ordered a surprise present for me and it arrived in the mail today- a sterling silver bracelet with the above quote engraved on it.  Isn’t he the best ever?  I think really though he is just trying to make me happy so he can get me to shut up with all the same old emotional baggage I’ve been making him carry.  Over and over again he has to reassure me; over and over again he has to listen to me stress about the “same old, same old”.  I told him tough.  If he was dumb enough to willingly marry me twenty-eight years ago, it isn’t my fault, he is just going to have to take his lumps because “all a this” (gesturing to my whole self) isn’t free.  It comes with some high maintenance work a lot of times.  He’s just going to have to buck up and deal with it, because I’m like a bloodsucker, a bloodsucker with baggage; I’ve latched on and he is never going to shake me loose.   
           Anyways, I was thinking this morning how fickle and weak we humans are (me in particular).  We can be spouting off sonnets of love and eternal devotion to God, and the next minute we’re changing the locks on the door over a stubbed toe. 
            I can so relate to the story of St. Peter- such a regular kind of guy- swearing up and down that he will be there for Jesus, but when the poop hit the fan, he demonstrated his human weakness, just like Jesus said he would. (John 13:38)  When the going gets tough- the tough cut and run!  Ha!  Oh well.  I’m a human.  What can I say? 
            What this little running setback is showing me is how much I need to latch on like a bloodsucker to Jesus.  But, things start to go my way and I forget in a heartbeat that I am lower than a worm and need to be forever attached to Jesus- in the good stuff and the bad.
           Perfect timing on my bracelet.  Perfect words.  So.  Time to regroup once again (I am good at regrouping because I do it like every five minutes) and let those words and my husband’s sink in.  He keeps saying that I can walk.  If I have to, I can walk part of the race.  Even if I can’t run another day until the big one, I can do this.  I will do it because; I can DO ALL THINGS through CHRIST who gives me strength!  (I’m just going to have to have him tell me so another six thousand times between now and then.)      

Friday, March 28, 2014

March 27, 2014- The Hour is Darkest Before…



            Today is a tough, tough day.  I must admit; I am feeling low.  This week, which was supposed to be filled with my heaviest miles has become the week of my fewest.  I am re-reading the things I typed from the beginning of this blog and training mission and seeing how overwhelmed I was at viewing the whole enormous picture of the road ahead, and my doubts at being able to do this big thing.  While they got pushed to the background because I was doing so good as the weeks and miles increased without much lip from my body- those scary doubts and sadness are coming back in full strength.
            My knees, the sleeping dragon, have awaken, and are not taking a bottle and going back to sleep.  For both of my past marathons the situation was the same: the running schedule went along just fine (I mean it sucked, so “fine” is a really generous word, but still…) until after the heaviest miles week capped off with my twenty mile run.  That’s when the wheels started falling off this broken down cart and I had to hobble my way through the “tapering period” not being able to run much at all the last couple of weeks of training.  But I re-grouped and God blessed me with two successful marathon runs. 
            This time though I haven’t even been able to complete that heavy week, and I know this is kind of hugely important in preparing my legs to handle a full marathon.  I’m worried.  Being a hormonal woman and also a mom I am prone to indulging a bit in the emotion, but still, I’m worried.   
            I want to fix it quickly so I can get back on tract, to solve the problem, learn the lesson I am supposed to be learning with this little setback so I can check it off the list and do this thing.         I looked at the blog post from January 21st, and it is front and center in my brain: 


            The nuclear bomb that fuels my Doubting Thomas attitude is this:  In praying for God to give me this cross that I might offer it up for my four reasons, I know, and He knows that the biggest cross He can send me is not being able to complete this mission.  Not being able to run is far worse to me than going out and running every single horrible mile- tearing down and painstakingly building up my legs, my whole body.  All the blood, sweat, tears are better by far than to have to sit on the sidelines. 


            That is it.  That is my fear and it is a big one. Youch, I do not like this cross.   
            So what do I do?  I guess I pray.  I sit here, ice my knees and not run and hope the cortisone shot is the magic elixir. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March 25, 2014- From Seeds




            Music is my main companion when I run, music and my thoughts.  And they both have kept me company and swirl around me mile after mile, year after year.  I’m a loaner runner.  Not that I like it some of the time, because I surely love to talk and when there’s no one around to entertain and impress with my rapier wit and genius, what fun is it?  But there is a peace being by myself.  No one can tell me what to focus on, or stew over, or dream about…  My thoughts and my feet can take me anywhere I want to go.  
            As I have commented before; I have built up an eclectic arsenal over the years of music that aids me in my meditations and motivation, and mindless nothings.  Different songs take me back to high school and college days or days when I was on top of the world, and they call to mind people as well.   
            “Sweet City Woman” by the Stampeders and the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar” belong to my cousins, mostly Kathleen, and the simple things and happy times growing up. 
The side of my refrigerator, my running schedule and my reminders of why I do it
The Beatles “Blackbird” is my son Simon’s song.  He used it in an incredibly great commercial he created on his computer for a college project.  He also claims “Lumen Mundi Es”.  It’s a treasured, beautiful recording I have from his high school Chamber Singers group that fills my heart with him- how proud I am of my one and only son, how many miles I have run worrying with thoughts of only him over the years, but more so, how much joy he has brought me.
“Cups” by Anna Kendrick belongs to my sweet Gracie, who spent a lot of time perfecting the little cup and clapping thing.  When I hear “Brighter than the Sun” by Colbie Caillat I can hear her sweet, innocent little voice, singing it at the top of her lungs.
And for my Emmaclare, there are a few songs; one, “American Girl” by Carrie Underwood is particularly hers.  There is a country edge to the song, as there is in my sweet, beautiful blonde-haired girl.  My dear one.  My dear, dear one.   
What on this earth can top the love a mother has for each one of her children?  It begins as a seed, a tiny seed growing within her (and sometimes that seed begins on the other side of the world, as with my Gracie Beth, but still it grows) and when their eyes first meet there is a bond beyond all others.  It can be overwhelming actually- when first you see the little person who suddenly is absolutely everything to you.  Without hesitation, out of nowhere you know you would die for them- you would run to the blade, you would throw yourself on any danger or harm or hurt, if only you could. 
Then your life begins together and as time goes on it separates.  There is pain in this separation most of the time for a mother’s heart, but also there are joys when you watch and see as only a mother can a life living to its fullest potential, or at least trying to. 
Many mothers can smile and nod in acknowledging the one child that has been the subject of most of her prayers and worries.  For my mother, it was my brother Craig.  She could see in him all the potential, all his hurts, and frustrations, and bull-headed determination, and attempts.  She knew him like no one else did, and loved him like no one else did.  I believe it was her main mission, those last years of suffering, to strap that heavy cross on her ever-emaciating shoulders for the sake of her son. 
So many times I would hear her tell me, “Whatever it takes, I will never give up on him.  He is my son and I will never stop fighting for his soul.”  And boy she sure did.  She demonstrated to me what a mother’s unconditional love meant through years of patient and horrific suffering, prayer, and sacrifice.   
There are just some things in life that are worth it.  She showed me that.  When your child is in need, there is nothing that you won’t do. 
I find it more than just a coincidence that I should have been contemplating seeds, the starting of life and how I would write about that today of all days, not really putting together the fact that today is the feast of the Annunciation- when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and asked her to be the mother of God.  (Luke 1:26-38)  With that fiat, that yes the seed came to be in her virginal womb and that Incarnate life grew inside her.    
We can relate in so many ways to Mary as she experienced the same things as most mothers who, from the start are so closely, physically bonded to their children, and in time the space widens, and you must let go.  For Mary, whose maternal heart was so wounded by witnessing the graphic, barbaric death of her Son that it was like a sword that pieced her heart (Luke 2:35) she knew to the dregs of bitterness what separation was. 
So, with morning mass today I thought on these things, and brought to Jesus through His holy mother all my dear ones, my children, my mother’s children.  I felt such a confidence in her mother’s heart to bring those who I love the most to her Son, and ask Him to bless them for me. 
Some miles I run and think about how happy I am to be outside and alive- footloose and fancy free living!  There are focused miles spent contemplating upcoming events and scenarios (women can beat that every angle scenario thing into the ground and I sure am one of them). But some of the hardest miles are when I have the extra weight (and that’s not the five pound bag of flour I always seem to be carrying on my midsection) of worry for one of my dear ones.  They weigh down my heart and monopolize my thoughts so much that I can wonder how I suddenly made it back home- oblivious to all else around me.   
It’s in those dark times that I am happiest to fly!  Not away, but into the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  She wraps me in the mantle of her grace and helps me to find a peace that I am doing everything a mother possibly can when you are mentally wringing your hands at the sorrows of being separated, and helpless.   
Oh Blessed Mother, from the time when they were in my womb (and for one, across the world but alive in my heart) I gave them to you specially, that you would forever wrap them in the mantle of your grace and protection.  On this holy day when we think on your YES, and you felt that life growing inside you, turn your eyes toward this mother who wants only what is best for her children.  Let the glory of abundant grace fall upon them!  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners!  Always, and in all ways.  Amen.
My Simon, Emmaclare, and Gracie