Thursday, April 9, 2009

On the trail again . . .

Something has to be written here. There's only one lonely post so far. I've been running since my last post, despite some more knee problems (culprit - the common runner's knee), and two weeks of inactivity, I just haven't been blogging about it. Well, the time has come. Here's a post about one of my training runs.

I hit the trails again after a two week hiatus. I've grown accustomed to running with Chaz when I'm by myself and honestly, can't imagine running on the trails alone unless he is with me. So, when two weeks ago, Chaz started limping because of some bad tears in his back paws, I took a week hiatus from the trails and spent most of my training time hitting the gym.

Then, week two of my hiatus was due to my hectic schedule of teaching, activities for the final week of City Commission campaign, and writing a paper/traveling to present at a conference. And then there was crewing for Mircea at Rockin K' (he finished his first marathon!! And what a marathon it was - 45 - 50 mph winds!! I'm so proud of him!)

Wednesday was my first chance to hit up the trails at Clinton. Yes, Wednesday night runs have resumed. I did about 7 miles. Man, what a 7 miles! The first run after a two week or longer break is always hard. I was breathing heavy, tired quickly, and felt wiped afterwards. If past experiences tell me anything though, the next runs shouldn't be nearly as hard. Hope not, since there is the Free State marathon coming up soon here!! :-)

Okay, back to writing I'm actually *suppose* to be doing - my area exam.

Next trail run scheduled for Saturday morning. I'm planning on a long one - 15 or 18 miles. Last long run before I start tapering for the marathon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Life Lessons

Something profound . . . hmmmm, something profound . . . 

Okay, I give up. You know how you feel that pressure sometimes, to make your first entry something deep and insightful, or dare I say awe-inspiring? It's the same nagging process that produces self-contempt for those who dream of writing the "Great American Novel," yet waste years writing barely more than a paragraph.  I guess, in some ways, you could say it's similar to the fears and insecurities that keep people from trying out new activities, joining new groups of people, and challenging their abilities. 

Hmmmm, sounds like the same process that has kept me from writing my area exam statement for the past two years. Yes, I admit, TWO YEARS!  Stay with me, I'm going somewhere with this . . . I promise. 

See, there's a connection between these fears and challenges in our lives. At least there is a connection for me, and I bet there is one for you too  - if you stop and take a moment to think about your own life. Aaahhh, yes, I feel a post about "life lessons" coming on . . . bear with me, it won't be too cheesy - I'm not really that kind of girl. 

I did, however, have my own personal Eureka! moment last week. Okay, so I exaggerate, it's not like I discovered some law of physics that will make me the next Brian Greene, but, I am still proud of myself because I discovered something new about who I am and how I want to grow as a person.  For years now, I've lacked the self-confidence to overcome my fears and challenge my limits.  This means I also haven't succeeded at nearly as many things I wish I would have in the past few years.  

So, what does this have to do with trail running, you ask? Everything, I answer! Too often we compartmentalize our lives. I don't believe in that. I seek to approach things more holistically - not just in a physical sense, but in a mental and emotional way too.  So, when during a meeting with my advisor last week, she finally said to me "Lisa, you know the material for your area exam, you just need to be confident you can do it," I started thinking. Then, later that evening, on my Wednesday night trail run with the Lawrence group of the KC Trail Nerds - it happened. BOOM!  No, I didn't run into a low-lying branch of a tree, as I have been known to do before. I had my Eureka! moment.  

Not only do I lack the, very obvious, self-confidence in my academic life, but the fears associated with low confidence levels has infected every area of my life.  I shied away from running with the group on Wednesday nights because I didn't believe I could keep up with everybody, I was afraid I would breath funny and my over exertion would be obvious to everyone else, or I feared my klutziness would be amplified by my running in the dark.  As I was running though, I realized that just by pushing myself to come out there and try it out, that all my insipid and petty fears weren't even true.  I was running fine and I felt great!  Then I started thinking more about my life.  My work in the field of community organizing, although successful in some ways, could benefit from me learning to take more of a leadership role in activities.  In fact, many times in my life, I've hesitated to speak my mind or state my opinion, even when I felt fairly sure it was valid.  Heck, even with taking care of my pets.  I didn't believe that I could train my German Shepherd dog to have good recall and listen to me despite any distractions.  As a result, poor Chaz is now four years old and only beginning to experience the joys of an off-leash dog park and running off-leash on the trails with me.  

I'll conclude this post, reminiscent of the "Deep Thoughts" skits on Saturday Night Live, with a short concise version of the first life lesson of my twenty-ninth year of life. 

Challenging yourself not only requires persistence, but also self-confidence and a willingness to take risks, and face your fears.  You may not always succeed, but the more you try, the more you increase your likelihood of success and the more confident you will become.