Monday, February 18, 2013

When I Run, God Smiles

It is less than a week before my first half-Marathon, and I'm feeling a little bit of trepidation about the event.  I haven't run as many miles as the training plan that I was following says I should have, and the longest run I have completed to date is about 10 miles up and down Scenic Drive.  My fellow runners at the running club have assured me that, if I can run 10 miles, I can run 13.1--Basically, this is adding a 5k to the longest that I have ever run.  I'm not sure that I can do it, and if I can't do this, I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to hike the Camino or complete the marathon that I'm planning to run with one of my friends from high school this October.  I guess you could call this the first of many tests to my physical stamina.

One of the running sites that I've been looking at mention that I should have a reason for running such a long event...the rationale is that running for the sake of running is all fine and good, but that it might not carry you through to the end.

St. Alphonsus Ligouri once said something that shows a similar sentiment:
He who does not acquire the love of God will scarcely persevere in the grace of God, for it is very difficult to renounce sin merely through fear of chastisement.
Personally, I like running because it gives me some of the same high that a good romance or adventure gives me--endorphins are a wonderful thing!  In the movie, Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell's Character says "When I run, I feel [God's] Pleasure," and I feel that too when I get into the groove of my stride.  It also gets me off of my butt and makes my dog happy, but I won't be taking the Dig-Dog with me this coming Sunday (poor thing--she will probably whine herself hoarse).  I run races because they help me to gauge where I am physically, as well as push me to get better, but I could do that just as well with the occasional 5K as I could with a half-marathon.  Running a half-marathon or a marathon because it was there, and it was something that I've always wanted to do doesn't seem like a good enough reason, though.  Heck, having "run a marathon" as an item on my bucket list hasn't given me the motivation to do so, until this year....

Wasn't the Dig-Dog cute as a puppy?  She is now a beautiful dog, but this has to be my favorite picture of her as a puppy.

I mean, I started hiking regularly in order to deal with the stress at home, which then morphed into running after I was able to run a 5k with a lot more ease than I expected to--no training at all beyond the 2-3x weekly hikes that I was already doing.

While I wouldn't have articulated it at the time, I think that my hiking/running was also a way to reclaim a part of me that had gotten lost in my marriage--I used to love hiking, camping (as long as toilets were available), and fishing growing up. Because my ex wasn't really interested, I didn't do very much of it.  In spite of having my own fishing gear, I only went fishing once during my almost 11 year marriage.  To his credit, the ex attempted to go hiking with me once this past year, and even promised to go hiking at least once a week, but like so many other promises, he didn't follow through....there was always some excuse, so I finally just quit inviting him.   Including that one time he came with me last year, he went hiking with me a sum total of 3 times in our marriage. I never invited him to run with me because he vociferously condemned the practice in the past, and made it clear when I did run that he wasn't interested.  I suppose that he could say the same of me, since I've never really been a big bicycler, and that has always been his favorite means of exercise.  If I am going to bicycle, it will be to get from point A to point B, not for the sake of biking!

I've never actually been fly fishing, but I always have the most fun fishing when I am fishing on a river--more action.  The last time  I went fishing with my dad, I caught 3 trout from the river in his backyard!

I'm thinking that I need to pull out my fishing gear and do a few weekend trips to some of the lakes/rivers/streams in the area this coming spring.  It has been a long time since I have spent a day drowning bait, and I think that I am long overdue!  Then, on the off chance that  I actually catch something, I need to find someone that I can give my catch to.  I am one of those weird fishermen that doesn't like eating fish!

I think the reality of the physical tests of endurance that I have set myself up for--the half-marathon next Sunday, the full marathon in October, and walking the Camino in December--are extensions of the internal test of endurance I am currently going through as I heal from my divorce.  Maybe this is faulty reasoning, but I feel like my being able to do these things will prove that I can live through and survive the divorce too.  And, maybe, just maybe, the time set aside for these activities will give me some of the silent space that I need to be able to actually process through the last 11 years. It is a way to reclaim who I am while remaking myself from the years of inertia and stagnation.

And that is a good enough reason to keep trying.