I went for a run tonight. That is not a remarkable statement; I used to go for runs all the time. In fact, in high school I was part of the cross-country team. I never liked races because I wasn't particularly fast or competetive, but I loved practices--even though they sometimes killed me.
On the off seasons I went running every night, even if it was snowing or sleeting. Sometimes I would go running during the day and then go again that night. I was called "The Jogger of Marysville." For me, running was sacred time. I needed to move and there was something comforting in finding a rhythm for my whole body maintained.
After I moved to Hays I didn't run as much. For some reason it was harder for me not to just stop whenever I got a little bit tired, and I didn't have the motivation to run more than a few blocks. One night--a couple months after moving to Hays--I decided to go jogging late at night. While I was running my hands started to feel itchy; I thought it was strange, but kept running. When I got home my tongue was tingling and I felt dizzy. I was worried that I was going to vomit, but when I went inside I saw that my legs were covered in angry red hives. A look in the mirror told me that my lips and tongue had swollen significantly.
Mom drove me to the Emergency Room and dropped me off at the door before finding a parking spot. By that time it was around midnight and the hospital was empty, save for the nurses at the desk. So walked up to them in all my sweaty, swollen, hive-covered glory.
"I'm having an allergic reaction." My tongue was so large that I sounded like I had a speech impediment.
The nurse simply looked at me and my Angelina Jolie lips with an expression that said, "No, you're just ugly."
I lifted my leg and pointed at the bubbling red skin on my thigh. "I have hives."
At that point the nurse decided to do her job. "She's having an allergic reaction." She said to her co-worker and handed me a clipboard with forms and a pen. "Fill these out and then sit in the waiting area until we call you in."
So, I spent the next hour sitting in the deserted waiting room with Mom, trying to decide if my throat was actually swelling closed or if it was psychosomatic (I'm pretty sure it was the latter). The only other person I saw during that time was the nurses boyfriend when he came to take her home.
Finally, the doctor called me in. I was very cheerful with him, joking around about not needing a lip-collegan injection. He told me that I was having an exercise induced allergic reaction and gave me an IV of Benadryl, which made me pass out. The next few days made me so tired that I could only lie in bed. After the episode I was left with slightly fuller lips and no will to run again.
I recently read an article entitled "A Eulogy to Running", which perfectly described my relationship with running. Jackelyn Ho writes, "Running will always have a special place in my heart and even though I don’t love it now, I know that one day I will come back to it when I need it most." Though I tried getting back into running a few times, I just didn't really feel motivated. I wanted to become a runner again, but it just wasn't clicking.
My relationship with running was reflective of my mental state. I had been unhappy with myself and my life ever since moving to Hays. Lately, I have become more positive (especially toward myself) and life has stopped feeling like a hell-hole. In fact, I love my life. As my mental state changed my sporadic runs started improving. Then I went running tonight.
It was a great run--possibly the best I have ever had. That was when I knew that I have finally recovered fro my time in Hays and become the person I used to be. No--better than the person I used to be. Before going running I did two Blogilates workouts (they are super intense), and in the past I paused the videos and rested when I got tired. I didn't really push myself. but tonight something she said clicked with me: "When you're tired just tell yourself to do two more. Then after that tell yourself you'll do two more."
When I started feeling tired and reached the point at which I wanted to rest I said "Two more." However, after doing those two I knew that I could do a few more, so I said "Ten more." The next time I got tired I said "Ten more." Upon completing those I forced myself to do five more. By the end of the workout I thought my glutes were going to burst into flames, but I felt proud of how hard I had pushed myself. More importantly, I knew how to recreate it--it wasn't just a fluke.
Then, I went for the run. I concentrated on my breathing, pulling air deep into my diaphragm and releasing it slowly. Sometimes I grew short of breath, so I adjusted my breathing accordingly, but I stayed in control of it. What I am especially proud of is the fact that when I felt like stopping I said, "Just make it to _____ spot." When I got there I knew that I could go a little farther, so I set my gaze ahead a few more meters and made that my goal. I didn't have contacts in, so the goals were close together, which was good. It made reaching each on seem even more possible.
I ran twice as far as I originally intended to, and I could have gone farther but I decided to go inside. As I walked to cool down I thought of an amazing TED talk by Diana Nyad. She was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida (at 64 years old!) and she said, "Most people reach for the stars. I reach for the horizon." Well, my eyesight wasn't good enough to see 200 meters ahead of me, let alone the horizon, but I kept reaching just a little farther.
For me it was a rare feat of mental and physical discipline, but now I know how to recreate it. Now I know that when I really don't want to do homework or practice I need to say "Just do it for ten minutes." Because once those ten minutes are over I will feel that I can do a few minutes more. And a few minutes more.
In Diana Nyad's talk she says to never, ever give up, and then goes on to say that she didn't just say it, she lived it. "I don't just stand up and say 'don't ever give up', I didn't give up. There was action behind these words...I'm walking around tall because I am that bold, fearless person."
No, I did not swim for Cuba to Florida, or run a marathon, but as I walked around after that run I too felt like that bold, fearless person. And you know what, I want to be that person again. So, in everything I do I want to push just a little bit further, to reach for the horizon. I don't ever want to give up because it feels too hard.
I think I'll go for a run again soon and go a little bit farther this time.
Push yourself a little further today.