Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Checking My Ego at the Starting Line

I recently graduated and am having trouble accepting that the identity I have had for twenty five years is now different. When people ask me what I’m doing with my life I stutter to avoid my comfortable “I’m a student” speech. Somehow, working, regardless of the job, and being a student is impressive. Once that student safety net is abolished there is pressure to provide a more dignified answer than just “work.”

So what does this have to do with my journey to the finish line? Well, I was a student of literature. My existence is analysis and words and as a result I live in my head. 

When your identity is shaken, everything is shaken. I agreed to write this blog when my life was operating under such rigidity that every moment felt mapped. Now that I have graduated, I am struggling with the fear that freedom brings. I don’t always know how I feel and there are no professors marking my feelings, allowing me assess how valid they are.

With only two blog posts and a little feedback, I put writing on the back burner. But then a week ago I was approached by a few team members who were wondering about my journey and when they would be able to read more. It sparked a fire under me. I realized that I am writing for myself however my intention is to chronicle an honest journey of a young woman who created a story about not being able to run and then decided to rewrite it. This is bigger than me.    

On that note I will fill you in on my latest running adventure.

The rain beat down on my face; it soaked through my coat and left my hair looking as though I had just showered. My eyes darted from puddle to puddle and my mind focused on the driest strategy around the wet landmines lining the trails. At one point, our run leader, Kristin, and I ran side by side chatting about life. I was running and talking! This was a novelty I assumed was a mere myth and then before I knew it, the run was over. The voice inside my head was so preoccupied with violent precipitation and casual conversation that it forgot to badger me. I was drenched and liberated. It was my best run club to date.

The week of the monsoon there were four people present. The next week was bright and dry with a big turnout. I let my ego inflate and I was ready to show everyone what I was capable of.  I raved to my boyfriend about my accomplishments and vowed to show him my running talents.

My first few minutes were lovely and then it hit me. A cramp that could have taken out a horse. It was like a knife in my side and no matter how much I screamed at my body to preform it simply replied “nope, not today.” 

I was fuming and my ego was hurt because no one saw me at my peak. I turned to Steve and dramatically huffed, “Go ahead! Leave me! I feel terrible!” He looked at me like I was nuts and calmly replied, “I am here with you. You are doing great. It doesn’t matter that you are walking, just do your best.”

He was right. I was doing my best and my best happened to be a run-walk with a cramp that wouldn’t quit. I decided to give myself a break.

Tonight I am going on another run.  We are leaving from lululemon on West4th at 6pm.  If you would like to join me please do! 

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Leaping Over Hurdles

Since I am used to journaling in private -- where my perfectionist self doesn’t have to worry about anyone else seeing my imperfections -- blogging has really taken me outside of my comfort zone. I am taking this whole experience as a lesson in letting go and learning to relinquish some control. Sharing my experiences is nearly as uncomfortable as the last 1K of every run, and that makes me feel like I am doing something right.
On that note, I have a confession to make: I was supposed to run last Tuesday. But unfortunately the thought of moving any muscle in my body was too painful. In the event that I had no choice but to bend down, I counted to ten and exhaled from my gut like an old woman. I even surrendered a loonie to the streets of Vancouver because the thought of exerting myself to pick it up was too terrifying to bear (those who know me know I would go completely out of my way for an abandoned loonie. Who am I kidding? A quarter would suffice).
So I found myself having to squeeze in a workout before work on Wednesday to make up for the missed session.  As the alarm went off for a running and yoga combo, I found myself making a mental list of every excuse in the book. Everyone will understand. I have to work all day. It’s cold. My iPod isn’t fully charged. The reasons to avoid my workout played in my mind like a broken record until I got an email that brought them to a screeching halt.
My mom had just read the post about my running goals in the West 4th store’s weekly product notification. She emailed me to let me know how impressed she was, signing off with a simple, all-caps, WOW!  Well, damn it, Mom. Now I have to run.
And all the excuses began to melt away. Even though my pretty pink Nano was dead, I did still have a music source. I dug out my first generation iPod shuffle. My playlist may be as old as the player itself and my headphones may only have one working ear bud, but me, and a very crackly Britney Spears, went on a run.
And it felt amazing. I don’t mean that running itself felt amazing; I am nowhere near enjoying the actual act of running. But the fact that I was doing it, that I got my butt in motion, felt amazing. Aside from calculating the fact that I have approximately a million more runs ahead of me, I am taking it one step at a time.  I returned home huffing and puffing with pride. Today the only thing on my body that is not sore are my fingers… hence the blog. I will keep you posted.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

A Leap of Faith

When my manager proposed the idea of training for five months to run the lululemon SeaWheeze half marathon, I wondered if she knew me at all. I am not a runner.  My relationship with the treadmill has been rocky at best. We commit, and then one of us -- I blame the machine -- always seems to give up well before the relationship is even given a fair chance.
And what kills me is that I have always wanted to be a runner. Correction: I have always wanted to be one of those blonde, waif-like, long-legged gazelles that seem to float as they run by you, without a single bead of sweat, and a smile that says, I legitimately love running. For some reason I always picture these women as blondes, most likely because that makes them my absolute antithesis.
So there we sat, my manager and I, across from each other in the back room. She examined my handwritten goals with the same tenacity that a palm reader studies your hands, and the verdict was in. She determined that my passion for our company and love of community (lululemon speak for marketing/PR) meant that I should be the SeaWheeze half marathon rep for the west fourth store.
I knew that saying yes meant there would be no turning back, because unlike my on again/off again relationship with the treadmill, dedication to work actually means something. So I decided to do something that scares me senseless. I took a deep breath and whispered, yes. I was immediately struck by a simultaneous jolt of excitement and terror. What did I just agree to? I don’t even run to catch the bus! My internal critic began berating and lamenting my decision.
But that was in December, and now that it’s February I have had enough time to digest my commitment and maintain only a slight level of worry. Tomorrow is the first day of our running clinic and I believe the things that will get me through the first hurdles are an open communication of my ups and downs, support from my community, and constantly patting myself on the back.
Stay tuned!