Ironwoman Dreams

If I can do this, anyone can.

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Meditation: A Running Story

As I talk to more people about this whole thyroid thing, the more panic and horror sets in. The reoccurring fantastical image in my mind is waking up from a foggy, drugged sleep, only to realize with the sheerest of visceral terror that someone or someTHING has slashed into my neck and stolen one of my organs while I was sleeping (I MAY be watching too many “X-Files” reruns, but still…).

Even though it’s perfectly logical and I know it has to happen, I am freaked out. I can’t help it. I am trying to do what I can to lull myself into states of calm, to cure these painful, fearful feelings, to get used to the change that is about to occur.

I started going back to yoga, both vinyasa flow and restorative practices, focusing my breath, quieting my mind. I’ve learned to carry these practices with me, the mindset, in my daily life, and also, to recognize it in other things that I do.

I’m a runner. I’ve always loved the solitary simplicity, the strength and the fire I get from being out there in the open air, relying on my own two feet to carry me anywhere. The other day, as I was running, even though I’d thought this before, I really realized that running IS meditation, if done properly.

When you become fit as a runner, it’s not the muscle in your legs that carries you great distances, it’s your heart, lungs, and the rhythm of your feet. As long as you have breath, heart, and allow yourself to rely on them, you can cover great distances existing in a space of total freedom, peace and passive mindfulness.

Throughout my short-lived existence as a distance runner, I’ve had friends, coaches and teammates tell me I’m “fast”. I don’t really think that I am “fast” so much as that I am consistent. I keep a steady pace that feels right to me and slowly increase as time stretches on, as my lungs and legs stretch out. I keep enough “juice in the tank” for a one-mile sprint to the finish. I listen to and trust my body, I trust the rhythms of my feet to drum out the right pace for that time.

Running’s one of the few times when life’s crummy moments can’t get to me. I’ve used it to get through so many things. Sometimes a conundrum calls for a slower, thoughtful run, and sometimes anger or worry lead me to sprint out my anxiety. Other times, digging into a steep up-and-over hill workout can be like sticking a pin into the very center of my deepest pain or sadness and relieving the pressure. ¬†And when I don’t want to think at all, running breakneck downhill without stepping on any cracks helps me focus on my feet, and less on anything else.

A lot of people try to muscle a run, or try to fight it, but if you relax and trust your body, it becomes an experience, an opportunity for focus and betterment. You can run fast or take it slow, knowing that your body is strong and it is meant to do this. It takes time to “get out of your head” on a run, but, when it happens, it is the best feeling, ever. It is cleansing, rejuvenating and a beautiful opportunity to breathe and embrace living.

Trust yourself, and follow your heart.

Running as meditation--and you get to see cool stuff like this on the way.

Running as meditation–and you get to see cool stuff like this on the way.


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Updates: A Health Story

“Wow, why do bad things always happen to you all at once?” my friends asked me, each in their own way, yesterday.

I half-heartedly joked, “I guess I must have done something really bad in a former life.”

Chaos Theory would say that bad things just happen, and, in the grand scheme of infinite possibilities, these coincidental happenings aren’t so rare. I’m just an insignificant speck in the universe. Why would anyone or anything want to target me for unnecessary torture?

I’ve become a robot in saying, “It is what it is.” Nature just is. People just are. We create stories and emotions around the facts. We break our own hearts. We give ourselves reasons to be sad. Nature isn’t fair. People expect fairness.

I’m guilty of creating stories. Even when my company reorganized and I found myself placed in a position I never applied for, that ignored my core skills, I thought, “I’ll make the best of it. It’ll be good for me.” There were a lot of details as to why this position didn’t work out, but I found myself miserable, and further sad that I was miserable. When the truth finally outed itself in a performance review At the end of this week, my new boss decided to give me two months to find something else. So, great. I currently face yet another potential layoff situation.

All of those toxic emotions I’d been plagued with during my months of unemployment oozed back into my brain: feelings of inadequacy (if only I’d done X,Y,Z), feelings of fear (will I be out on the street if I don’t find something?), feelings of anger (at myself and others). What good were these feelings doing me? I tried to focus on the positive and on reaching out to folks to find myself a new opportunity, either within the company or otherwise.

The second blow hit while I was already weakened. I’d been chasing the doctor down for days, trying to get the results of my biopsy. I was beginning to think that, maybe, no news was good news, and that it probably wasn’t anything to worry about. Instead, I got a call Friday afternoon. The results found that one nodule, the big one on my left side, was benign, but, on the right, the results were indeterminate, meaning that there was probably some malignancy. So, long story short, she recommended that I schedule surgery for a total thyroidectomy, and said that I would have to take hormones for the rest of my life. Awesome.

I know that nothing and no one is behind this, that nature’s just throwing punches and they’re landing square in my gut. Still, I’m tired of being this “tough girl” that everyone thinks I am. I’m tired of making jokes and shrugging things off, and repeating my robotic mantra of, “it is what it is.” I’m sad and I’m scared of the unknown, and of everything changing. I’m afraid to admit that I miss the feeling of having someone in my life who will just hold me and let me cry it out, on those rare times when crying is the only way to cope.

But it’s true that it is what it is. I can’t change things, not with all of the water power in the world. Tears are ineffective.

In light of all of all of these changes, I have made the decision not to sign up for IronTeam this year. If all goes well, I’ll probably sign up for a few marathons and halves in the coming year. I’ll work on feeling strong and healthy, and on taking care of myself. I’ll keep everyone updated on how things go here.