Posted in Running

What Was I Thinking?

NWM2011 Reason #8 Because I Can
NWM2011 Reason #8 Because I Can

Time is an interesting construct. Memory is an interesting construct, as well.

When I was running the NWM 26.2 last October, I distinctly remember thinking, “I’m not ever going to do this again.” I remember thinking “never again” when I was caught up in the gear check scrum where I thought I was going to die from suffocation or claustrophobia, whichever came first. I remember thinking “never again” as the marathoners split from the half-marathoners and I realized that I had a long way to go. I remember thinking “never again” as I ran past the finish line on my way to another 8 miles or so of joyous running.

I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to be one of those people who said, “I’m never going to do this again” during the race only to turn around and say, “I’ll do better next time.” No sir, not me.

When I finally finished, though, I remember thinking, “Well, I couldn’t do any worse next time.”

And as the hours turned into days and the days turned into months, that niggling thought continued to percolate in my brain. I knew I could do better if I trained properly, if I took my training schedule seriously, if I didn’t think about gutting it out on race day. I knew I could.

I hadn’t intended to sign up for the NWM virtual half-marathon – I wanted to concentrate on training for the April half-marathon that I had in mind. When I saw the announcement that all members of the largest team would be given an automatic opportunity to register for the NWM – no lottery – I scoffed silently. When I saw the Facebook posts that encouraged everyone to sign up with Team Victorious so that would be the biggest team, I sneered inwardly.

And yet somehow, I wound up signed up with the Nike+ challenge, registered for the NWM virtual half-marathon, and a member of Team Victorious.

This week I received an email from NWM letting me know that as a member of Team Victorious I was entitled to register for the NWM in October without having to go through the lottery. There are a few hoops to jump through but that’s to be expected. I was so excited to get that email. “Yes!” I thought, “thank goodness I registered and that I signed up as a member of Team Victorious!”

As I think about my excitement over that email and compare it to my mental anguish while I was running last October’s NWM 26.2, I have to laugh at myself. And I have to marvel at what amazing things time, space, and memory are.

Time heals all wounds. Time soothes the hurt spirit. Time rebuilds the crushed soul.

Space gives time the room to work. Space allows different experiences to take place. Space lets old thoughts out and new thoughts in.

Memory can be selective, allowing us to either focus on the good or the bad. Memory allows us to consider the possibilities, the what-ifs, the might-have-beens. Memory can hurt if you dwell too long on the bad things without thinking about the possibilities. Memory can help if you remember that what you did in the past doesn’t have to define who you are in the future and what you can accomplish in the future.

My selective memory has focused on a few things – that I could have turned in a better time if I had trained better and been more prepared for the hills, that I really enjoyed the race once I emerged unscathed (except for my missing Nike+ SportBand) from the gear check scrum until the last 8 miles or so, and that entry is lottery-based so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try to enter. In the intervening weeks and months since the 2011 NWM 26.2, I’ve admitted why the marathon, particularly the last few miles, were so miserable for me – I tried to run a marathon with less than half-marathon training. So time has given me the benefit of honesty with myself as well as the courage and determination to try again.

What’s your memory pushing you away from or pulling you towards? How much time needs to pass before your wounds have healed? What are you going to try again? Do you need to build up courage or determination or both to do it?

Happy running!

Posted in Opinions and Thoughts, Travel, Writing

‘Tis the Season

As I was running recently, I was thinking about how much I love this time of year. The crispness of the air, the smoky smell wafting from chimneys, the scent of evergreens inside offices and homes, the cookies, the parties, the decorations, the singing, the impression that everyone seems to be kinder – all of these are reasons I enjoy the holiday season. One thing that I really enjoy about this time of year are the Christmas cards.

Most of my friends have never been big letter writers. In the past, I was usually the one who would send regular letters. I always hoped for a response but never expected one. One time, I followed up with a phone call because I hadn’t received a letter from a friend who always responded and that was how I found out that he had died. His mom had been saving all of my letters for months – unopened – because she wasn’t sure how to break the news to me.

These past few years as life has become busier, my letters have devolved into postcards that I send when I’m traveling. It’s easy to jot a few lines on a postcard and pop it in the mail, right? Not always! Some trips, I’ve spent hours looking for postcards and post offices. When I went to Bali, I didn’t find postcards until my last day on the island so most friends didn’t even know I was in Bali until they saw pictures on Facebook. But I enjoy looking for postcards and finding just the right ones for certain friends.

I always hope for a return letter or postcard but I don’t expect one. But every Christmas, I look forward to amassing a stack of Christmas cards. Even if the card only has a signature and no personal note, it brings that friend to mind and I like that. The joy that I get when I receive real mail (as opposed to junk mail, bills, or bank statements!) has not diminished over the years.

Those Christmas newsletters that people rant about? I love them! In a couple of pages I can get updated on the happenings of my friends’ and their families’ lives. And I can do it on my own time, curled up in front of a roaring fire with a cup of cocoa at hand.

This year, I’ve gotten a couple of e-cards. And let me tell you, they don’t warm the cockles of my heart the same way a card in the mail does. They seem impersonal and thoughtless to me, more for the sender’s convenience than for the recipient’s pleasure.

But isn’t that what this season is all about? Thinking about others and doing kind things for them? So if you’re thinking of me this season, send me a real Christmas card via snail mail. I will appreciate it more than you know.

And the thought processor churns on . . .

Posted in Opinions and Thoughts

Learning How to Let Go

Do you have a highlight reel that plays in your head from time to time? Or one that you can call up when you’re feeling a little blue? Does your highlight reel just start playing sometimes when you least expect it? Or when you are just zoning out?

I have a highlight reel but my highlight reel doesn’t get as much playing time as my “lowlight” reel. My “lowlight” reel consists of clips of all the times I’ve embarrassed myself, all the times when I didn’t act as professionally as I should have, all the times that I’ve lost my cool when there really was no need to – all of my human moments.

Often, my lowlight reel starts playing without any warning. Out of the blue, a memory will pop into my head of an incident from 10 or 15 years ago. I’ll be driving along on my way to work and the memory of  an awkward incident will come up. Or I’ll be walking around in a store and the memory of a time when I was tongue-tied will flash across my mind.

I don’t know what causes this spontaneous playing of my lowlight reel. But a couple of years ago, I started using a mantra whenever those memories enter my mind unbidden. Let it go. I usually say it out loud but if I’m in public, I’ll say it in my head. Let it go.

It’s taken a lot of practice but usually when I say it, the memory blinks out. It doesn’t stop the memory from coming back but it is nice that I can banish it with three little words – Let it go.

I’ve started using my mantra for more than just banishing unwanted memories. Whenever I’m feeling uncharitable about someone or something – let it go. Whenever I’m feeling angry about a situation that I have no control over – let it go. Whenever something didn’t turn out as it should have, as I planned it to – let it go.

The thought processor churns on!