Sunday, February 28, 2010

A SPLIT SECOND

Thursday I skipped my 6 am boot camp workout. I had been tired all week and felt like I needed a break. So I got up at my usual 5am time and went to the living room. In the dark quietness of the house I sat and meditated on the beauty of the rare stillness of the moment. It is interesting how a house makes it's own unique sounds. The dogs snored softly in the hallway, the hiss of the water heater kicking on and the creak of the house as it adjusts to a slight temperature change. It's in these quiet  moments that I 'feel' life all around me. It's always there, it is just that I don't take enough time to be consciously aware of it. Something that I must work on. For this 'presence' is life.
Before I knew it 6 am was here and the usual hustle and bustle of the morning begins. Mike gets up to fix Noah breakfast while I head to the shower. On rare mornings like this, I also like to take Noah, my 12 year old son to school while I head into work.  On this day, we ended up sitting in an unusually long line of traffic. I happened to glance in my rear view mirror and noticed a young man sitting in the car behind us.  He appeared to be asleep. I thought to myself how strange that was and then quickly turned my attention to my son who chatted away about where the front of the traffic line was located. I drank my coffee while admiring his cuteness and thinking how quickly my children have grown up. Suddenly there was a loud crunching sound as we were hit hard from behind and thrust forward.  My coffee splashed everywhere as my son and I gasped in alarm. The young man behind us had apparently 'woke up' and suddenly hit his gas pedal. Nothing to be alarmed at with this incident. My son and I were fine and there was very minor damage to both cars. My point in bringing it up was this. Life can change in a second. 
I'm an RN and in the line of work that I do I see similar situations  like what occurred with my son and me, only they are magnified 100 times. I deal with the results of these accidents on a daily basis. One minute a young lady is talking to her son in traffic, and the next she is rear ended so hard that they both end up in ICU on a ventilator. Their family left to deal with the consequences  and decisions of the results of an accident that occurred in a split second due to someone not paying attention or being 'asleep' to their surroundings. 
One of my responsibilities in the role that I have at the hospital, is to help families make decisions with death and dying. Quality of life versus quantity of life. Each one is personal and everyone has different thoughts on this. Some will press forward with life no matter what state the body is in. Others accept letting go and would not want their loved ones to live in that state. My husband and I have discussed this situation thoroughly and know each others wishes. We chose quality of life, not quantity. Each person must arrive at their own thoughts on this matter in their own way and be respected with the decisions they make and the place they are at.  I have witnessed a 90 year old, five pack a day smokers cling to life at all costs and want all life preserving measures done, even if it meant living on a vent, in a bed and in a coma for the rest of their life. Yet, I have also witnessed younger people who chose to let go when life meant not living it as they were used to.
Yesterday, my husband and I went for a ten mile run. It was a great run. The temperature was 40 degrees and the sun was shining.  The birds sang to us the whole time and I noticed the trees had the beginning sprouts of Spring buds. It felt wonderful to get out and feel the pavement beneath my feet and the cool wind on my face. At points in the run when I started to struggle, I  focused on the stillness. Yes, even though I was running, there is stillness to be found. Be a silent observer. Listen to your breath, feel the sensations and there, that's where you will find the stillness. This stillness is being totally awake.
Life is precious. In a moment, it can be taken away. I want to strive to not 'sleep' through life, but to be 'awake' and observe life. To be aware of it around me at every moment. 
I encourage you, my reader, to do something you love every day, try something new. Try practicing being 'awake' at all times when you do these things. Oh, and most importantly, be sure and hug your loved ones and kiss them every chance you get, for life can change in a split second!
Namaste'

Sunday, February 21, 2010

HIT BY A BIG RED TRUCK

Today, I wanted to go bike riding, but alas, this Ozark's weather has determined for me once again, that I shall stay inside. I sat in the house on this rainy, dreary gray day writing a monthly health article with my twin sister. Our articles are published in several local newspapers (you can read our published articles on our blog @ http://www.adoubledose.blogspot.com ).  I drank hot tea while nursing my sore legs.  We wrote about the benefits of sunshine, as we longingly looked out the double glass doors, yearning to see if there might be any breaks in the rain so we could dash outside and ride. But no sunshine was to be had. The sun must have taken another day off. Being lazy, I suppose, behind dark, heavy clouds and the rhythmic pitter patter of rain on the deck. So Audrey, Mike and I settled in and made the best of it by making warm comfort foods of homemade chicken soup and oatmeal scotchy cookies. 
Yesterday, I ran 20 miles. Mike, my hubby, ran the first 13 miles with me. We ran the Bass Pro half Marathon route in Springfield MO. We kept a nice 10 to 10:30 pace going all the way to his stopping destination.  My legs were a bit sore at that point and I could tell that I had an unusual amount of lactic acid build up too early in my run. But the day was a rare, sparkling sunny 55 degree day and I had to take advantage of this perfect weather. So I tried to make the best of it. I said good bye to hubby and off I went to complete the run. 
Without my hubby to talk to I started to notice the sounds of nature. The birdsong was amazing. They sang to me the entire run. It was beautiful. However, there lovely song started to dim and then eventually went unheard as my pain increased and my brain could not focus on anything else. My legs started to feel like lead between miles 16 and 17. What went wrong? I hobbled and walked the last 3 miles of my run. 
The problem, I believe, lies in the fact that I was not fueled properly. For one thing, I take a powdered magnesium supplement. I realized that I had not taken this supplement in several days and that I always took it before a long run.  I also try to fuel up on coconut water and water the day before a long run along with carb loading. I failed to do any of those things. I certainly paid for it.  Last week, my run went totally different. I had fueled properly and felt strong on my 16 mile run. I did not get sore at all from that run.  Now, at 16 miles, I was hurting. It was a terrible reminder of how important fueling up before a long run is. Lessoned learned.  I know that I will have runs where my body is tired and I just don't have it in me. But a lot of discomfort can be prevented if I had properly prepared my body. 
Last night I kept poor hubby up as I rolled around in bed and moaned with my stiff, aching body. Ibuprophen just didn't cut it. Lactic acid hurts. 
A dear man man I once knew named Bob (who has been released from this world) used to have a favorite saying to people when they did something stupid, "Duh, big red truck!" he would say with his unusual, beautiful, melodic voice.  Well, not only was not fueling properly a 'big red truck', but I felt as if it had ran over me and then backed up and ran over me again. Thanks Bob!
There will be better runs.  I will focus on the positive, and that is at least I got the run in. Next time, I will try and avoid that stupid big red truck at all costs!
Namaste'

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A BAD DAY...OR IS IT?

Yesterday my hubby, Mike stated that he wanted to run 16 miles with me. I need to up my miles because I am training for the Go St. Louis Marathon in April.  I have been a bit worried about this marathon because our weather here has been a atrocious for long runs so I have been slacking on them. I was a little concerned about Mike because he had never ran that far before. He has always chosen to stick to the half marathon's and 'work on his time' and he has said that he has no desire to run a marathon (unless I run Disney and then he would reconsider). Our last weekend 11 miler went well, so what was another 5 miles? So I gladly accepted his offer of running 16 miles with me. Our problems first began at home. I had purchased a pair of bright pink Newton running shoes and have loved them, but was undecided as to whether I should wear them or my new Asics Gel Kayano's.  So I put a Newton on the left foot and an Asics on the right and wandered around the house in them to try and decide.   The last thing I wanted was to come up lame on this run with no way of getting back to the car.  After much to do about the shoes, I chose the Newton's, which ended up being a good choice for two reasons. #1 They help me to run with better fore foot running form and most importantly (chuckle) #2 Just about every female runner that I meet on the trail says "Love your shoes". Which heck, I hate to admit it, I may be slow, but with my Newtons and CR-W pants I am dressed like a speeding Kenyan! Haha!
We headed out the door and was about a mile from the house when I realized that I had spent so much time trying to decide on what shoes to wear, that I had forgotten my garmin. OH NO!! My hubby patiently turned around the car. He does not understand the importance of that piece of equipment to me. Once we finally arrived at Sequiota Park I packed my cell phone in my fuel belt in case I saw something 'interesting' on my run. The weather was unstable. Some weather reports said that it would snow or rain and others informed that it would be a sunny 40 degree day. The sky was a looming, heavy gray and the air a crisp 30 degrees. Dressed in layers we headed down the trail with our fuel belts packed down with coconut water and Kashi oatmeal cookies. The first two and a half miles were torture, as they always are with me. My body resists the pain of movement and the cold exacerbates the pain, but once I get past that point I'm fine.  My body gives and I can focus on the moment. Hubby ran just in front of me, making sure from time to time that the pace was OK for me.  I snapped the picture at the top at South Creek Trail. I thought it was interesting how some ducks stood on top of the ice and others swam about.  I wondered if their feet got cold. When we reached the half way point at mile eight to turn around, Mike was struggling. I stood admiring the beauty of the woods and eating an oatmeal cookie when I turned around and found Mike on the ground. He was 
moaning and stated that he
was just 'stretching his hips'. He struggled all the way back. We also discovered that we had been running with a tail wind and now we were running against a face chilling, mean resistance. This time, I ran in front and had to keep asking him if the pace was OK. Occasionally I would look back to find him in the same position on the ground. I, being the sick humored person that I am, found this interesting. and since I had brought my phone along in case I found something interesting to photograph I snapped this picture.  He did not think it funny, nor interesting. He was having a bad run.  I just happen to be having a good run. I felt strong and ready to run. He felt exhausted and just wanted it to be over with.  I ended up running ahead and meeting him back at the car as he hobbled in. "Next time you decide to do a long run," he said sarcastically, "You can run with your women friends". I laughed, for I knew that he was discouraged and a new day will bring better thoughts and a better run. 
When we have a bad run, just as when we have a bad day, we need to keep in mind that it is normal and most importantly, temporary. It is just what it is. We need to try to not get discouraged and always keep in mind that 'this too shall pass'. A bad day is only a day and good days will return. Besides, Bad days serve to make us stronger and certainly makes us appreciate the good ones even that much more. 
Most importantly, just stay true to your run and let it be what it is.
Namaste' 
Just a side note : Hubby is feeling much better today and is in better spirits about his 'bad run'. He is wanting to do more long runs....20 miler, here we come! :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

MY RUNNING VALENTINE


One week from today is Valentine's day. It is a day to reflect upon and show appreciation towards one's love. So in honor of this day, my husband thought we should celebrate it with a Valentine run. I was very happy to oblige, since I love running with my valentine.  We drove to our favorite place to run, Sequiota Park in Sringfield MO.  It was 32 degrees and with the wind chill factored in it was a bone chilling 24 degrees. To add to it, the gloomy gray sky looked as if it was going to drop an intimidating load of snow and/or ice.  I snapped this picture just before our run (my teeth were chattering).
After we started out, I would have darted back to the car in a second had my husband just gave the word.  But he didn't.  So inside my head I had a pity party. The first mile was excruciating. I was very cold and my body was sore from the week of boot camp and group strength I had done every morning and add to that the stress of my work week. I was just flat out pooped. But I followed my husband anyway hoping that it would get better. While I labored to keep up with him my mind wondered, as it usually does. I was being negative. Because my body was sore and tired my mind was thinking negative thoughts and thus keeping the perpetual cycle of misery going.  I then started to wonder about conditions.  Conditions on love. Conditions on running.  We all do it. We place certain conditions on love. 'I will only love you if...', and so on and so forth.  You have even known and experienced people whom have placed conditions on their love towards you that have retracted their love from you because you did not meet, in someway or another, their expectations. Some people refuse to love you because of 'trust', when in fact, they don't trust themselves and project that issue onto you, never recognizing that it is a sign to look within. 


Then I realized that this issue of 'conditions' certainly pertains to running as well.  I realized that I had placed 'conditions' on this run with my husband.  I was willing to throw in the towel and run back to the warm car had he just shown one little sign that this was a possibility.  I then agonized over how my body felt and in turn started retracting my love of running with thoughts of 'why am I doing this', 'uggh, this is awful', 'I'm cold' and most importantly 'this hurts'.  When running, just as love, begins to hurt, we often, all too easily throw in the towel.  But, isn't something that's worth striving for worth some pain? Focusing your thoughts on the positive outcomes that will come and the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that you will feel if you hang in there and endure past the pain is what will get you through.  Love, just as in running, isn't easy. But hanging in there and knowing that experiencing pain is normal will make you stronger and will all be well worth it in the end. You will end up with a strong body and a strong relationship with your partner.  
Eckart Tolle states in his book 'The Power of Now' that 'the greater part of human pain is unnecessary.  It is self created as long as the unobserved mind runs our lives. The pain that we create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgement. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity'. I was resisting my run, and in turn, I was judging it negatively as a bad run.  Instead of focusing on my pain, I should have focused on the act itself. So I started looking around me and realized the incredible beauty that I was surrounded by. This had all gone unnoticed when I was in my negative state. I snapped this picture of Mike running over a bridge -metaphoric, I thought of crossing over from negative to positive. I no longer noticed how cold it was, but enjoyed the crispness of the air. My run then became a utopian experience in textures, the crunch of the snow beneath my feet, the sound of birds singing a happy song and the tree branches creaking as they gave to the wind.  I even noticed a robin hoping around in the snow - the first sign of Spring. We ran 11.07 miles and enjoyed just being together. I am blessed.  I have a husband that runs with me. We enjoy the same activities, we train for the same events.  Life is good. I had absoultely no reason to feel or think negatively in my life. I am blessed with too much. 
After our run, we headed to the gym and sat in the hot tub, showered and went to Red Lobster for our Valentine treat. He then took me to the mall and bought me a wonderful new fragrance called, of all things, 'unconditional love'. Then he took me to my favorite place - the book store, where we spent the rest of the evening drinking coffee and browsing through books.
I hope that this Valentine's day leaves you with a feeling of blessing and unconditional love.  If you don't have a significant other, maybe you are blessed with a best friend or a pet as a Valentine.  There is certainly no better example of unconditional love than a pet. Whatever it may be, may you recognize the blessings that surround you each and every day and may you love unconditionally.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Namaste'