It’s a metaphor for so many things; running from something, running to something, running for something.
For as long as I can remember, I (metaphorically) ran from anything and everything. I let myself run for so long that I lost who I was, and what my purpose was in this thing called life. Then, after years of unhappiness, I decided to run towards something, to find my why, my purpose, and myself.
Just a few short years ago I started my relationship with running and I began to see the wonderful world of races and paces. Though, not why I originally started running, I quickly became addicted to the rush of racing and the sense of accomplishment that running gave me. I began to appreciate my body for what it could do, rather than what it looked like. I felt strong, empowered and free. I always want to do my absolute best out there on the pavement, but lately, I feel as though I’m spending most of my time assessing my FAILURE rather than seeing the potential that I have to do good things.
It was time that running and I had a heart to heart talk and reflect a litle bit.......
Years ago, I met my (now late) husband, and he helped me stop running from everything that scared me. He changed my life for the better. He gave me a purpose. He made me a wife, he made me a mother- something I wanted more than anything in the world.
It wasn’t until years later, during a time of soul searching that running came to me. My husband had passed and my child was in the hospital. The stress of life and responsibilities were wearing me down and I didn’t know how to find my place in life. All of this was taking a toll on me; I gained weight, I lost weight, I gained it back. Life was overwhelming, so, I did the only thing I knew how to do- RUN! Running from whatever it was that I was scared of... Only this time, I was physically running. (Ok, it was more like panting and trying not to collapse to the ground, but eventually- it was running.) I can’t tell you exactly how or when it happened, but running brought my self-worth to fruition. The constant defeat of the world around me was being silenced as I placed one foot in front of the other. For brief moments I could escape the stresses of life, reflect on my faith and just enjoy the silence. I felt some glimmering sensation that was familiar, but had been absent for a long time.... I found myself. I turned a new leaf. Positive thoughts, self-worth, and unstoppable determination were simmering through me.
Here I am now, going through the absolute hardest time of my life dealing with child loss. I can not explain to you the roller-coaster of emotions. I still won’t really talk about it, I’ll probably never write about it and I’ll always keep crying about it. I’ve once again started to feel like I’m losing myself and questioning things in life. I cried a lot. I slept a lot. I barely ate. I needed to find something to pull me through... So, I did what I knew, I turned to running. Only this time running had let me down. Or really. it was telling me to slow down and take a look at what was happening. I had to take moment to catch myself and realize that I was creating my own false perception of what I was capable of in these moments. I was running non-stop on little sleep, little to no food and exhaustion from crying. I was quite literally running my body into the ground as punishment for what was happening in my life (things I had no control over) rather than facing my emotions. I was trying to out run my emotions and my body was falling apart because of it. I was halted in my tracks and forced to stare back at myself.
Sometimes, just as with any sort of relationship in life, you need to take a step back; to see the bigger picture, to reflect, to heal, to gain strength for the next steps forward. Growth is a process and it involves moments where you feel like you're set back unwillingly or you purposely take a step back to slow things down so that you can keep moving forward with passion, joy and presence. Reflection helps you see past yourself when you need to the most, and that's a beautiful thing. Some of my greatest ideas are sparked during times of reflection- from passions that I have in my heart or ignited from pain and suffering.
We had a nice talk, running and I, and we realized we were just shifting our relationship a tad, there’s no hard feelings. I run because it changed my life. I don’t even know the person I would have turned into if I had not found running. It taught me dedication, hard work, discipline, integrity, etc. I run because it makes me feel alive. Running makes me feel like I have a purpose in life. It makes me feel like I am unstoppable. It makes me feel like I am capable of anything. But, all of that aside, I still need to go through the process of emotions rather than running from them.
Recently, during the NYC Half, I realized that I wasn't ready to put my all into training, But with each step I ran, I gained more and more strength. Each and every one of those miles was for my angel. Mile after mile I slowly felt more peace fill the broken pieces of my heart and I started to feel like me again. While I absolutely still LOVE running, I didn’t LOVE training for a race when life got crazy emotional. Of course, I'm not the only one to have lost a loved one/child and has gone through the slow, painful, inevitable process of moving on with life, but that doesn't mean I cant take the time to let myself heal.
I can tell you that grieving never truly ends, there will forever be a scar in that part of my heart, but running free helps me heal and remind myself that I’m capable of much more than I ever thought possible, that I can make it through the pain and that running will always be there to help me heal. I don't have to be "done" mourning to start running again, rather, running was going to be what got me through this stage of life, and the next, and the next. Loss may be a part of my story, but it doesn’t define who I am or what I can do, so for as long as I can I'll keep running those miles for my angle.
Dream Big. Work Hard.