Not sure why I never got around to posting these, but they were taken last fall. Beautiful time of year here in Oklahoma…
I have started my summer photo project. I am excited to focus in on a specific theme as I’ve been somewhat random in my photography lately. I’m recovering from some nasty kidney stones and have been spending some time among my library of photography books. I’m zeroing in on the works of William Eggleston, whose famous exhibit: At War With The Obvious, has challenged me. I have given myself some perimeters with this project and a time frame of 60 days. Shooting with my 35L, 5D mark II. Basic, simple, summer.
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” ~ Pre.
I think to understand a runner, you must be a runner. Runners think differently than other athletes and yet, are exactly the same when it comes to the thrill of the fight. The throwdown, the piece de resistance…the race.
I would say we are a special group of people–positive, lively, motivated, disciplined, and happy. We know and understand pain, effort, strength, and defeat. Running is the metaphor for our lives. Whether we are raising children, attending church, working our job, or setting simple, long term, or impossible goals. Running meets us right where we are and teaches us to either slow down or to go hard. It teaches us to not quit. When running is going well for me, life goes well. God has been good to provide this to me in my life. Did you know that there are 21 verses in the Bible that pertain to running your race? Thank you, God, for the gift to run.
I think any true athlete goes through periods where they have highs and lows in their sport. I have mentioned that it’s unfortunate that I didn’t stick with running through high school, prior to this I was a track and field athlete. We moved so many times it became difficult to settle in. Finally, upon landing at the school I would eventually graduate from, I settled in to music and stayed in that place until graduation. After graduation though, I began to crave testing my physical limits. I was just born with it I guess. The reason I say this, is because I think it’s important to remember how the mind works when striving for something in this arena. It is very difficult for me to fail. I hate it. I hate the disappointment that comes with it. The feelings that follow–low self esteem, lack of confidence, loss. I think this may be even more difficult to process because I didn’t have that early sport psychology training in my younger years to help me just “leave it on the field.” So, with each new level of understanding that there are definitely highs and lows, I grow.
After bailing out of two important races last year due to injury, my confidence was busted. Somehow my view had become twisted and instead of using the negative to push me to work harder, it made me want to lay down in defeat. But that was mentally agonizing..because it’s not in my nature to just lay down. This spring I decided to come back to my sport of running after taking a season off to strengthen weak muscles and to let my mind take a break. During this time always in my heart, I heard the road calling my name. Finally, I felt ready to set some new goals and chase after them hard. I decided that I wanted to qualify for Half Fanatics which would mean two half marathons within 16 days or three half marathons in 90 days. This gets me to level one. I chose my races and started training. Five weeks into training, the injury began to present itself again. This was definitely NOT good for my psyche. What was wrong? I was doing all the right things. After a year of focusing on taking time off and getting stronger, here I was again. My confidence bottomed out. Why? I would lay in bed at night and fret over it. I would begin to become anxious about the long run coming on Saturday…I was waiting for the pain to come while running, that was never, ever, a good thing. I sought out advice and encouragement from other runners..who would understand.
The advice ranged from just enjoy yourself, don’t be so hard on yourself, to runners sharing their stories and how they overcame. How does one not be hard on themselves when they are working so hard to reach a goal? Isn’t that the nature of setting a goal, to push yourself? Otherwise, why try.
Dallas Rock n Roll..the comeback race. It carried a lot of weight. It was going to, in my running mind, fix the wrongs of the past year. Set my feet on the path again. Give me the feeling that I can accomplish all that I set my mind to and I wanted to feel confident going in. But I didn’t. So I set a new goal..to just finish the race. That no matter what happened with the injury, that I was going to crawl through the finish line if I had to, because it’s the FINISH and NOT QUITTING that is important. Of course, unless an ambulance is needed. I mean, I’m not that crazy. But this is the mental push. Not letting something beat me, life, kids, relationships, work, people, government, taxes, illness…this is where my mind says with God all things are possible and I am created to overcome. Running is the metaphor for life.
The road to Dallas was filled with lively conversation. My friend since 7th grade, Melissa, was coming to run her own race in Dallas…she had her own fears and goals to overcome/reach. We did the usual in attending the expo, picking up our race packets, then decided to grab dinner at a lovely little Italian place in downtown called Porti De Roma –spaghetti with meat sauce–perfect. We walked back to our hotel, laid out our running gear, rolled our muscles, crawled into bed and went right to sleep. I slept good.
Previously, before leaving for Dallas, I had been advised to ROCK TAPE my leg from the piriformis muscle (the top of the hip) all the way down to just below my knee. I did. This may have helped save me from the IT band issue I had been struggling with. Again my goal was to finish. The last two long runs were riddled with IT band pain to the point that I was walking the last mile or two of the run. And these were miles before the full 13.1 I was about to attack.
The morning of the race was brutally windy. The wind was like a knife cutting through to the bone. I was thankful that Melissa had an extra layer for me. We walked a mile to the start line. And waited. I was regretting that I had not brought a hat. My ears were growing numb and burning. A group of girls to our right had decided to forgo clothing. They each wore a bra top, booty running shorts, and a green tutu. We were in shock of their stupidity, hypothermia could have easily taken them out. But they thought they were cute. To my left while standing in the corral, a girl wearing only a bra top and shorts, shivered. I was shivering and clothed..I couldn’t imagine why these girls would do this…the mother in me wanted to reach out and wrap my arms around her to comfort her goosebumped skin. Finally, we were off. And finally the cold faded away to comfort. Temperatures, other than the wind, were perfect at 40 degrees. Run, run, run…
I began to mentally thank my body for doing what I asked of it. I began to thank God for getting me here and for all that I had come through in the last year. I thanked Him for creating my body to run. And then…as I was coming around a curve nearing the end of mile one, I heard it..I heard the simple guitar riff to the beginning of a song from my teen idol. I started to laugh. I started to pick up my pace. As the words to Jessie’s Girl began to fill my ears, I saw the very first band on the course off to the right, members dressed in suits and ties, belting out a fantastic cover of Rick Springfield’s number one hit from 30 years ago. Serendipity. I knew this was a sign to me that today was going to be my day. God uses anything.
We had trained relentlessly on hills in my running group..so the inclines on this course were a piece of cake, when other runners were dropping like flies, or muttering “when will this hill end?” under their breaths, I flew past them…strong, and thankful. I trusted my training.
Mile 6 I felt the twinge of IT band begin to talk to me, so I prayed. I prayed and told God that I wanted my blessing. I wanted the reward of my work. I thanked Him for healing me and allowing me to run. I thanked Him for the gift of running. The IT band never presented itself.
Mile 10 my feet were hurting so bad, I needed new shoes but had put it off as the technology had changed on the upgrade to my current shoe and I wouldn’t have had time to break them in for Dallas, the pain became nearly unbearable. But I only had three miles to go. Three. I stepped off the course and stretched for a minute. Then told myself to put the hammer down and finish. So I did.
I was thankful for the gift.
That was one of the sweetest finishes. The Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders were on the sideline cheering and dancing…the crowd was cheering…music blaring..and I was done. I had accomplished what I set out to do. I had some muscles cramping up walking through the finish area, but I downed some chocolate milk, got my picture taken, stretched and waited for my friend, who would complete her most successful half marathon to date by shaving 15 minutes off her previous record. Incredible. We both had completed our fifth half marathon race. And we thanked God.
My next race is in 11 days. I’m feeling confident. I feel restored. I feel like the darkness of the previous year is behind me. I finished this half marathon with the official time of 2:10:56. Not a PR for me, but I am very happy with the time, all things considered. My runmeter logged me at 2:08:43 which would have been a PR..had I not taken that stretch break.No big deal. There’s always the next time…and the next time…and the next time. The half marathon race is my favorite race. The Dallas race was exceptionally well organized, the volunteers were fantastic in spite of the horrible freezing wind, and the course was so beautiful that it is now my favorite half marathon course I’ve completed to date. I will definitely be back to do it again next year. Fingers crossed, it’s a bit warmer!!
“The human body essentially recreates itself every six months. Nearly every cell of hair and skin and bone dies and another is directed to its former place. You are not who you were last November.”
― Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life
This was the beginning of the new old me. Right here among the desert cacti, in the city that never sleeps. I was a transformed woman. I awoke and did something I thought I couldn’t do. I was changed.
Once I discovered that I could, I kept. I wanted more of what I didn’t know I could do, and now did know fully, to continue to grow to new heights. I’ve never been the type of person to just settle and be okay with the mediocrity of life. I want it to always be soaring to new levels of greatness. But sometimes, like right now, another metamorphosis takes place. One I didn’t ask for. I keep asking myself to go there, but something is different. The confidence is gone. The fear has come. The change has taken place and I feel powerless to remove it. So many things in life want to rob and limit, and I fight and fight and fight to overcome it. What if I succumb to it? Is that noble? I’ve been exploring why I’ve struggled so much this past year with achieving my goals and I find myself bound by something I can’t free myself from. Or at the very least, something I THINK I can’t free myself from…you see, it’s mental. A mental mindset has taken over my way of thinking and it’s not what it once was. It’s now tainted with doubt and grief. Grief over what once was, but no longer is. I’m like Rocky on the beach, Apollo screaming at him, “What’s the matter with you man?” Rocky looks off out towards the ocean…at what? His doubt.
I’m not sure what flipped the switch for me. A combination of things to be sure, but what exactly happened to my positive outlook? What happened to my sense of being free spirited? What happened to my desire to meet new people and be open to new adventures? It all seems like work now. My goals seem like work, work that is not achieving its full potential in spite of the effort shoving it forward. Not too long ago it seemed effortless and joyful. So why is it so hard now? Why can’t things stay the same?
And time marches on. I have let the blog slack a bit. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, crisp air, warming to a near 60 degrees today…in February. Delightful. Randomly throughout the week I’ll think of my blog here and realize I haven’t posted in a while. I feel the weight of finding something to post, and I suppose this is it. I think I have writer’s block. Or perhaps it’s that I don’t know if it’s as important as it used to be and of course I’m sounding all dramatic about it right now…trying to sweeten the post with angst. Simply, I’ve been distracted. I’ll try not to be that anymore.
Lately, with photography, and this is a photography blog, a deeply personal photography blog at best, but nonetheless, I have been looking at different ways to express what I do. I have become enamored with rich textures and dark colors. I am taken with mood and atmosphere. I have begun to find my eye seeking these moments out in the most mundane of moments. I’m actually seeing the finished product in my mind before I’ve even begun when faced with a photographic situation. The vision muscle continues to be challenged. I’ve also been entertaining the idea of film photography and building my own darkroom. I want to be the master of every detail. I want to determine the outcome in post, so I’ve been searching online for just the right film camera. I’m not looking for “clean” or technical perfection anymore. Although, I think one gets to a point where the rules can be broken within the realm of perfection…not that I was ever perfect.