“…and I say to my heart: Rave on.” - Mary Oliver
One of my all-time favorite running movies is On the Edge with Bruce Dern. (you really need to be a runner to appreciate this film and rise above the cheesy 80s soundtrack & some of the goofy corniness of it all…) I cannot watch it without crying. One of the best scenes of the movie shows beautiful shots of Dern training on the trails of Mt. Tam with the voice of his coach in the background, “Soar the uphills! Burn the downs!” SOAR the ups, BURN the downs….I like to repeat that to myself sometimes while running.
Lately I’ve been thinking how this applies to living life. Specifically, living a life with grace. Soaring through the rough patches and burning ferociously when times are good. I have come to recognize that I have been doing quite the opposite. I feel like I’ve been head-down, busting my ass this year – trying trying trying to do it all. Burning those uphills. Not much soaring. At times I feel too exhausted to enjoy the speedy exhilarating descents. No fire. Not much passionate burning.
When my name appeared on the entrants list of CCC100 this year, my heart lept. I GOT IN!!! WOOHOOO!!!! Here is my chance to train HARD and FINISH this race – my first 100 miler. The spring and early summer lay before me with great hope & promise for a carefully executed training plan and plenty of hard work. Working hard is something I know how to do. After the disappointment of last year’s DNF, nothing can stop me now!! I GOT THIS.
I had fire in my heart.
One of the (many many) things I learned from my DNF at last year’s race was that, for me, running 100 miles requires not only incredible stamina, endurance, fitness, etc etc – but it also demands a big ‘ol chunk of passion. FIRE. I need my whole heart in it.
Last year I lined up with my whole heart. With a fire in my belly. I was ready to tackle this thing.
pre-race, 2013 – happy me!
Where am I now? I’ve had some painfully honest conversations with myself about that. Sadly I have knots in my belly, lumps in my throat and sadness in my heart when I think about my running these days. I force deep breaths when I think about the race. I feel shallow and shaky when I assess just how much fire I have to bring to that start line in August.
The truth is, I haven’t lost my fire. It’s just burning for other things. I thought if I piled on enough kindling and logs and huffed and puffed I could keep my flames going and DO IT ALL. I have come to the recent realization that (duh) – I can’t. There, I said it. I cannot do it all. It does me no good to compare myself to others who are seemingly able to gracefully “make it all fit”…. I am all I have.
I am a single parent, raising my son primarily on my own. (with mucho help from the proverbial village and my family – make no doubt about that!) This year, he dedicated himself to HIS passion (baseball) in a way which logistically required me to put forth a similar amount of dedication and effort. The time & travel involved was immense. Running was often pushed to the side.
And yet, when I watch him work hard, push himself, compete, focus, manage his time and commit to his goals, my fire burns. I am so proud. I am so honored.
I also committed myself to the love of my life in a pretty major way this year. LIKE MAJOR. :) Those of you who know me very well or who have read along for a while may have noticed that I have some trust “issues”….to put it kindly. ha. Becoming engaged at age 43, with 3 other amazing little blooming lives to consider, is pretty freaking life-changing. As it should be.
Apparently, I am the type of individual who has a finite amount of emotional energy (FIRE) to give. It hurts like hell & feels a lot like failure but I have to accept that about myself. Rather, I am choosing to accept that. To hold that in my hands and really be okay with it.
In that choosing, I realize that I cannot spread my fire (my love, my passion, my dedication) too thin. It will just go poof. (and I will be grumpy and bitchy and not very nice…)
So, for now, I happily choose to burn brightly for my son…
and wait for a time (2015??) when I can stand at the start line of a 100 mile race WITH MY WHOLE HEART. For me, the distance deserves it. Demands it.
Am I sad? Absolutely. Regretful? Not at all. My priorities this year have been crystal clear and I did my best to make it all fit. Telling Liam that I am pulling my name from the entrants list of CCC and not running this year felt like a moment of weakness & a failure on my part. I was admitting to him that I wasn’t ready. Admitting it to myself. Rough.
Yet, I am 100% certain I am making the best choice for my life RIGHT NOW. And that’s all I really have….the courage to make the next right choice.
The 100 mile fire will, without a doubt, burn in my heart again. Of this I am sure. <3