Friday, September 3, 2010

Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising "A mythical bird that never dies, the phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space. It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it. The phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration." - The Feng Shui Handbook

I can't believe I speak these words; I have registered and am training for a Half Marathon!!...Why the shock? Well, I am 43 years old. I am 30lbs overweight. My average run is 3.5miles and I have only run 6 miles, once!... On November 14th my goal is to cross the finish line after 13.1 miles.... I am trying to keep in mind that physiologically, fear and excitement are the same experience in the body.... I feel terrified! and this means I am excited!!! Everyone that hears that I am training for a half marathon exclaims "Good for you!" "You can do it!". Don't they understand? Don't they see all the reasons that I can NOT do this?! I swear these reasons are as real as the cup from which I sip my coffee! So real that I think I can physically touch them, see them. But no one else sees them. And in reality they are not physical, they are not "real".

When a friend initially asked me to join her at the Big Sur Half Marathon my initial reaction was "No, I can't". I was steadfast in my rejection (as I had been to all previous race invitations). Until the next day when I watched a video of the race on their web site. Among the fit and fast there were people that looked like me. A little round. There were people with a pace so slow they could have been walking. And then there were walkers. "Well, I could do that".... With that almost imperceptible lowering of the 'can't' barrier I became overwhelmingly emotional. Which made no sense to me. Why would watching a race bring me to the edge of myself? Because maybe, just maybe, I could. And at the very least I could try. I sent out feelers to family and some of my running friends to see if they thought it even possible for me to get through a half marathon. It seems I asked the wrong people; overwhelmingly they said 'YES you CAN!'.

I sat with this for a day and then I registered for the race. You see, as I sat with the idea of whether or not I could or couldn't run a race I realized that it was about more, much more. I realized that we mentally block ourselves in so many ways. I mentally block myself in so many ways. It's called a comfort zone right? But just because it's a comfort zone doesn't mean it's right, or healthy, or even comfortable for that matter. I started to fantasize about what it would feel like to lift the "can't' barrier from other areas of my life. That can get a little scary, it's true. I mean, we're talking about the possibility of living up to one's own potential. That's when I realized why I had gotten so emotional watching the video. How empowered would I feel if I did attain this seemingly impossible goal and cross that finish line. How good would that feel?! How might that feeling ripple across into other areas of my life. Areas that I have tucked into a comfort zone, but that I know have more potential.

The last two years have been challenging. I'm certainly not the only one who has felt the rumble and tumble of the economy. But along with that vague and dry notion of a 'bad economy' comes more subtle, real effects. I won't go into all the details but suffice it to say that while barely being aware of the downward spiral I ended up in a dark place. When I finally picked my head up I did not like where I had landed. Where was my self confidence? My spunk? My humor? My passion? My heart? Me. I remember one day laying on the couch looking at the ceiling fan and wondering if this was the view from rock bottom. I can't pinpoint the moment the shift happened but I am aware of the moment I first realized the change was in effect and I wanted more of it. I wanted to feel good again. Inside and out. I began exploring trails with my dog - one simple pleasure that has a great effect on me. It seems silly and it's hard to explain the amount of joy I get when I'm out on the trails. We are in our element, the dog and I. The trails inspired me to get fit again. The physical activity inspired me to eat healthier and after 4.5 years I took over the cooking responsibility in our household. You see, I don't enjoy cooking really. But in order to get a handle on my snack attacks and lazy lunches I had to take the reins of responsibility. All this fit and healthful craziness inspired a desire for some internal shifting. Off to the bookstore to browse the self-help aisle! Remember that downward spiral that I mentioned? The pendulum is swinging the other direction now.

I joined a local group that hikes with their dogs. On my first outing with them we trekked off into the same park I've been going to for the last seven years. Yawn, but I will be a good sport. Little did I know that I was about to find inspiration. Our group veered of onto a single track trail that, although it connects to my familiar route, I had never taken. Wow. The next day I decided to add it to my run. I just wanted to run until I couldn't any longer. And on this beautiful trail, inspired, I just kept going. I remember being aware that I was still running. I hadn't mapped out the mileage before so I really didn't know the distance. When I got back to the car I was exhausted but man it felt good! When I got home and mapped it out I was shocked to find out that I had run 6 miles. That's almost double what I thought my limit was!....

The run that morning was a factor in my decision to say yes. If you had asked me a week prior if I could run 6 miles I would have said with confidence "No. Absolutely no way". But I just had. The coincidence can not be denied. It was that very same night that my friend invited me to join the half marathon. "No. Absolutely no way".... Yea, I'm beginning to see a pattern here. The events in my life are leading to unexpected turns and twists. Outer and inner journeys. The shift is happening, light is shining through the opening.

It turns out that I know several women that will be running the Big Sur Half Marathon. I am the newbie. The race rookie. In my terrified/excited state I am bringing this group of women together. I have so many questions and they are a great source of information, experience and motivation. We may train on our own but we all aim to cross the same finish line. Our reasons for running vary. I am very clear that my reason for running this half marathon has very little to do with actually covering 13.1 miles. I have already taken one huge step, possibly the hardest, I said "yes". The next few months will be about training. It won't be easy. I know that I will learn so much more than how to run distance. I have decided to journal about this adventure I'm embarking on. And although it may represent many aspects of life the only way to make it happen, to cross that finish line, is to stay focused and work really hard. The road ahead will be full of challenges but I feel ready and I have a great support system. 

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