Sunday, May 26, 2013

"For he to-day that sheds his blood with me/ Shall be my brother"

The above quote is from Henry the Fifth by Shakespeare, and after my experiences at the race this morning, I'm feeling like there is a camaraderie that comes from the sweat and the slogging and the striving that one finds in long distance races like the one I was in today.  Before I go much further, let me give you a clip of Henry's speech before the battle... (I love this version, by the way!)
So, I was there all by myself, and there was no place to check in my camera and my car keys, like there has been at my half-marathon.  One of the ladies that was selling tickets held them for me until the race was over.  She even wrote her cell phone number on my bib so that I could get my stuff back if I couldn't find her.  The people working the water stations were friendly and cheering us on as well: one volunteer kept telling me I was almost there every time I went by...not exactly true on loop 2 of 10, but she thought it was funny, anyway! Then, there are the runners.  The course that we ran has several places where there were runners going in opposite directions on the same road.  Because of this, there was a lot of mutual encouragement going on, especially between those of us doing the 25k solo (it was also a relay, with teams of 5 doing a 5k each.).

The course for the race--two times around this was a 5k. (except that a couple of runners wearing Garmins mentioned that 10x around the course was actually more than that--my nano says I ran 17.74 miles, but I also veered off course to use the bathroom several times.). 

Then, the non-running members of the 5k teams started cheering all of us on as we ran through the stadium....Until the last person on their team finished, there was this one team that was helping me to count my laps--something that I'm incredibly thankful for.  The girl that finished fourth from the end lost track, and they made her do one more lap just to make sure (which is why she was fourth from the end...she would have been done much earlier otherwise)!    There were also a lot of mini-conversations going on, especially near the end of the race...the "how much further do you have to go?" conversations, as well as the "where are you from?" and "Why did you decide to run this race?"  type of conversations.  By the end of the race, I didn't feel like I had come to race on my own, as so many of the people there were willing to share their cheering with anyone that ran, not just for their friends or fellow relay team-members.  In fact, as I was getting into my car, one of the ladies that I talked to during the race made a point to tell me that she hoped that I had a good time for my remaining stay in San Antonio before she got into her own car to drive away. 

Me before the race.  It started pouring about 10 minutes later, and continued to do so for most of my first lap.  Then, it quit raining for the majority of the race, only to start again as I began my last lap.  I think God knew that my fellow passengers really didn't want to be smelling me all the way to El Paso!

The race itself was difficult, as I was not really prepared for it.  First of all, running in 60% humidity as opposed to our normal humidity of less than 10% is BRUTAL!!!  It really helped that the rain kept it relatively cool, as I doubt I would have finished if it had been both hot and humid.  Then, about half-way through my second lap, I realized that I was getting hungry--I hadn't eaten enough breakfast!  The plan this morning had been to eat some yogurt and a couple of bananas, but in the process of packing and checking out, the bananas got forgotten.  One cup of yogurt is just not sufficient, and I should have known better.  I had those Cliff's electrolyte Bloks, and that helped.  They also had bananas at the finish line, so I snagged a couple as I was going through. 

My running gear and the banana I was supposed to eat for breakfast this is in a plastic bag because all of it is sopping wet, including my shoes.  I'm going to have to put it in the dryer as soon as I get home tonight, although the shoes will just get paper stuffed into them.

It is truly God's grace that I didn't bonk (for those of you who are non-runners, to bonk means that you basically burn all of your available energy and your body begins to shut down because of it--nausea, fuzzy-headedness, and possible passing out ensues).  And, all week long, I have been eating things that my body isn't used to, so this morning, about lap three, the runners trots hit.  At least my bowels were empty by the time I hit lap five, so I was able to avoid the bathrooms for the rest of the race.  Because I didn't train like I should have, I ended up hurting myself--my right IT band seems to be injured, so my thigh and knee on that side hurts when I make them bear weight (I might have pulled my groin muscle as well to compensate for the IT band issues).  I'm currently hobbling around like a little old lady here at the airport, and plan to go to the doctor some time tomorrow to get it checked out.  The longer I am sedentary, the more it hurts, so I'm thinking that this will be especially important!  My clock time was about 3:57:39, and considering that I had so many issues, I'm just glad that the time wasn't worse.  I finished third from the end, but I finished.  I will likely have to sit out from running for at least a week, and I'm sad about that, but I'm glad that I stayed for the race.  A marathon is only 10.7 miles further, so as long as I can train well and stay healthy, I should be able to do so with flying colors come October. 

Me after the race.  I'm soaking and tired and hurting, but very happy that I finished!

I have to say that, the more I learn about and experience the running community, the more I'm glad that I'm a runner!

And this is a close-up of my medal.  I think I like this medal better than the one from my half-marathon...Now that I have made that threshold, I think any further half-marathons I do will be chosen based on the coolness of their medals.  Why run for an ugly one???

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"I get knocked down, but I get up again..."

I have to say that I love this song.

Yes, I know that it is about drinking, and I don't particularly like that part of it, but it reminds me of my college years, since it came out the year that I graduated with my BA....Considering that I really didn't emotionally become a rebellious teenager until after I graduated with my BA, it is part of what I would consider my youth. 

It also has a very good message to it--kind of like one of my favorite songs from the Fred and Ginger movies...(it isn't my favorite dance scene with them, though...if you want to see that, click here).
While I have been here in San Antonio this past week, I needed to go to Confession, and these 2 songs are really part of the reason why I think that Confession probably ties for my favorite Sacrament with the Blessed Sacrament.  I always dread going, but I'm always so incredibly blessed in having gone.  What always strikes me is that, even though I almost always have a different Confessor when I go, the Lord seems to always speak to me through the priest, and will often get to the heart of what I am struggling with. 

When I was still in the process of converting from Protestantism, my sister Sarah asked me about confession, and her big question was "Why do you have to confess to a priest?"  I could have whipped out my Bible and showed her in John 20:21-23 where Jesus Delegated/gave the power to forgive sins to his Disciples, and then explain how that Authority has been passed on from them to priests.  I could have explained that, when a priest says, "I absolve you,"  He is acting "In Persona Christi" --he is a flesh and blood stand-in for Christ in that moment--While I am sitting across from the priest, I am not only telling them to him, but to Christ who is the one who forgives my sins.  I could have talked about how there is something incredibly powerful to physically hear that my sins are forgiven--I don't know about anyone else, but as a protestant, I tended to ask the Lord to forgive me over and over for each incidence of my sins.  When I confess to a priest, the physical act of doing so helps me, more than anything else, to truly leave my brokenness and sinfulness at the foot of the Cross. 

I could have talked about how humbling myself to admit my sins to another person acts both as a change agent and as a deterrent in the future--and the nice thing about doing so with a priest is that I don't have to worry about it going viral (I've actually read blogs and heard talks by priests about confession, and one thing all of them seem to say is that God gives them the gift of forgetfulness--they don't remember what we say in the confessional).  Instead, I talked about the fact that part of the confession process is to get a little bit of advice from the priest about how to get out of the habit of sinning.  For me, that is probably the best part of Confession--I'm getting help to break the habits and behaviors that strangle or cut off the Grace God wants to give me daily.  I actually correlated it with going to a psychologist, and I have to say that I found her response rather humorous--she changed the subject because I was "making too much sense" for her comfort! 

I also think that I am naturally gravitating toward songs like this because of my divorce...I feel like my life is kind of starting over--and I've been going a little crazy with trying to catch up on things that I have always wanted to do but never have...this past week, I danced on the bar at Coyote Ugly, for instance (and no liquid courage was involved: I got up there of my own volition, and had a blast jamming out to the music)--the evening didn't end as nicely as I would have liked, but the beginning of the night was just a lot of good clean fun.  I also sang karaoke for the first time in my life (and I want to do it again!!!)! I'm beginning to learn that it is okay to be a little crazy at times, and to let my crazy side out, within reason.  I'm learning to figure out my own boundaries again as I get re-acquainted with myself. 

It is funny, because I thought that my suicide attempt 12 years ago taught me about all of my limits and who I was--where my rock bottom was, and exactly how much pain/hurt/anguish I could handle.  Now, I'm beginning to learn about the boundaries on the other side of my life--things like what is and isn't fun for me; whether getting buzzed should be a part of that equation (it isn't--life is more fun when you aren't buzzed, IMHO), and how much I'm willing to drink socially (the usual limit is 1 drink, although I will extend that to 3 over the course of a night if we are out for a long time or it is a special occasion).   I'm discovering that I am more than the internal commentary in my ex's voice about how I have no sense of humor, that I'm no fun, and that I have no singing voice.  I am enjoying going out with friends and colleagues, especially when we go dancing or singing karaoke, but I also know that things will eventually calm down some--I'm not really a true party girl....Too often, I still feel like the awkward teenager who doesn't know how to react in social situations! 

Even so, I want to get out and do things more than I have in the past.  One thing that I've really been working on doing is increasing my circle of friends and reconnecting with old friends.  I will probably never have a huge amount of really close friends, but it would be nice to have people I can call and plan stuff with, rather than spend most of my time sitting at home and reading.  Honestly, I don't want to spend every night out doing stuff, but it is nice to have one to two nights a week where I am doing something social.  That is why I love my running club so much, and why, even before I got divorced, I wasn't willing to miss my monthly book club unless I had a very good reason.  At running club, I still feel very much like the awkward 13-year-old me trying to hang out with the cool kids, but I'm finally beginning to make real connections, so that feeling is slowly dissipating.  Who knows?  Maybe I will BE one of the cool kids by the time that I quit feeling like 13-year-old me!

So, I will leave you with two songs that have become my personal anthems lately, and are along the lines of the original song that started this post...

This is a song I fell in love with while playing Singstar at a friend's house.  It also has the benefit of being a GREAT song to run to!

And this is just a great song about starting over, and about having hope that there is life after the pain.  It is this song that makes me love Taylor Swift.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Over-Analysis, a poem

It is bone deep...
Even in the marrow, and
No amount of running
Will excise it--
It simply delays the inevitable:
Mind-numbing, endorphine producing

It returns...
Throbbing, pulsing, oozing
The digits fall off one by one:
Goodbye Hope; Goodbye Comfort
Goodbye Certainty.
Replaced by Should I have...?  What if I...?
What about...?

The happiness drains
In a slow drip.  Drip.
Who am i to want, to succeed?
Who am i to strive, to conquer?
What i most dreaded
Has now come to pass--
i AM my own worst enemy.

This reminds me of an episode of ER, where the geeky bald dude with the glasses starts dating 2 ladies at once.  When one of them, a psychologist from the Psych ward, finds out about it, she puts a rubber-band around his wrist and says that this is a strategy that they use with the OCD patients to help them break obsessive thoughts.  She then pulls the rubber-band back and lets it go, telling him, that, whenever he get's the idea of dating two girls at once again, he should snap it.

For me, at least, working in Academia has one huge hazard--over-analysis.  I'm paid to think critically and to sift through data on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, I tend to do the same thing in my personal life, and the process sucks all the joy and fun out of life...when I look at the world with child-like wonder, it is a beautiful, joyful, enjoyable place that I love to be a part of.  I think I need a rubber-band.

Monday, May 13, 2013


So, it looks like I will be going on my Camino earlier than I thought I would....In fact, I will be leaving on August 29th in the afternoon, arriving in the afternoon on August 30th, and then returning on September 23rd.  So, I will be in the below picture in 108 days!
I'm not sure where  on the Camino this picture was taken, but I loved the way the clouds look--A lot like rainy season here at home!
I won't be going the whole 500 miles from St. Jean Pied-de-Port (SJPDP), either, but I will be starting my Camino in Burgos, which is just a little less than 300 miles from Santiago de Compostela.  Including rest days, I will be on the Camino for about 21 days, and I'm starting to get really excited, especially since I'm not going to have to deal with the awful weather that I was expecting in December.  Besides, going a shorter distance means that I have an excuse to come back at a later date!

It also means that I won't need near the amount of gear that I thought I would.  In fact, I have pretty much gotten all of my gear at this point.  I am still debating about whether I need to buy a poncho, since northern Spain stays pretty wet year round.  In fact, there is a member on the Camino forum whose signature says,
There are Liars, Damn Liars, and there is My Fair Lady--The rain in Spain falls mainly in Galicia!
So, I'm thinking that getting a poncho is still a good idea, but will likely pick that up once I'm in Spain unless I can find a really good deal online.  Rather than take an extra device, I'm getting a Skype account that I can use on my tablet in order to stay in contact with people back at home.  This lowers my costs, and it will allow me to be able to talk to family/friends for free. Please e-mail me with your Skype account if you want me to contact you while on the Camino.  I will be buying my ticket first thing in June, so that is the next major purchase, and I got my passport photos taken last night.  I will be sending in my application at the end of the week.

It is still too early to get my pilgrim's credential, but have it on my calendar so that I remember to order it from the American Camino de Santiago Pilgirms office at the end of this month...I can't request one until I am under 3 months from going.
This is a picture of a filled pilgrim's credential.  It will be my proof that I have walked as far as I say I've walked...They will look at this when I get to Santiago and won't give me my Compostela unless I have the right amount of stamps--specifically from Sarria onward.  
Once I knew that I would be leaving sooner than I originally planned, I bought a book that tells of some of this history of the Camino, as well as important points of interest along the way, but I already know about a couple of places that I plan to visit for sure.  The first is the Cruz de Ferro.  It is a big cross that is along the trail that was erected in order to mark the Rabanal pass, which is also the highest point on the Camino.  It is close to the 2/3 mark from SJPDP, and it has become a place where you let go of your worries, sins, etc. on the trail, usually represented by a memento or pebble that you have carried with you from home.  I still haven't found the rock that I'm going to take, but will pick one up in the next few months on one of my hikes.  Anyone who wants to give me a pebble with your name or other message on it, I will pray for you along the way and leave your worries at the foot of the Cross as well (both figuratively and physically!).  Please just keep it small, as I have to carry that weight with me for most of my trip!

This is a picture of Cruz de Ferro.  
The other place that I know that I'm going to stop at is O Cebriero.  This is the spot of a Eucharistic Miracle, so it is a priority for me to go there.  It is because of the doctrine of the Eucharist  and John 6 that I am Catholic, so Eucharistic miracles hold a very special place in my heart.  Visiting Lanciano, Italy is on my bucket list of pilgrimage sites, so being able to go to the site of another Eucharistic miracle is very important to me.  It was one of my greatest concerns about going in the winter, as O Cebriero is near the top of a mountain pass and is often snowed in in winter.  I'm really glad that this is no longer an issue, and that I can safely expect to be able to visit there.

This will probably screw up the training for my Marathon in October, but in the end, it is totally worth it.  I can always try again at the next El Paso Marathon if I end up not being able to finish the one in Albuquerque.    Besides, even if I'm not running, I will be walking between 20 and 32 km per day with about 15 lbs on my back, which translates to between 12 and 20 miles a day.  If that doesn't help my endurance, I don't know what will!!!

I don't know why anyone would want to abandon their boots while still walking the Camino, even if they ARE incredibly makes for an interesting picture, though! This is one of the many trail markers on the Camino.
P.S.--In case you are wondering, Ultreia is one of the traditional greetings given to pilgrims while on the trail...from what I understand, it means something like "further," and is an encouragement to keep going.  Really, that is what a pilgrimage is about--moving further in your journey to your destination, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's Just a Dance.

Someone posted a link to the following blog on Facebook today, and I got distracted by it, but in the process, I found this little gem of a post:  Here is a quote from that post...
My ex-partner argued with me after he left that there are “several different types of love.” He pointed out that the Greeks have “five different words for it.” I emphatically disagree.  There is ONLY ONE TYPE OF LOVE. There are many ways of giving it and various degrees of intensity, but there is ONLY ONE KIND because all love comes from God and is impossible to experience apart from Him. There are lots of feelings and emotions that people mistakenly call “love.” These emotions, feelings, and attractions are not necessarily bad things, but they should never ever be mistaken for “Love.” Love is an Action Verb and it is a gift that is given.It is not ever a feeling or an emotion. We do ourselves and others a grave disservice when we adopt the view that there is any other form of “Love” other than what is described in detail 1 Corinthians 13

Later he says:

You mentioned "Romeo and Juliet" in your other email and that you often felt emotions similar to theirs and their "forbidden love." I can relate to what you are describing, but I do not believe that Romeo Loved Juliet. I'm serious! What they had was the Opposite of Love. Shakespeare’s play showed this, but our modern view has distorted everything. I personally believe that Shakespeare never intended anyone to believe that Romeo and Juliet loved each other in any way, shape, or form. For one thing the 16th century view of suicide was much different from our modern sympathetic view.

The only character in the play who demonstrates Love is Paris . He is the one who really and truly Loves Juliet.
Take a look at the opening Prologue of Romeo & Juliet. It is clear that Shakespeare did not view Romeo and Juliet’s relationship as healthy or loving in any way. He calls it “death-marked” for a reason.
He goes on to show why what Romeo and Juliet shared isn't love, and I was struck by the deconstruction of the relationship between Romeo and Juliet--it never occurred to me in High School when we read this play that Shakespeare might have been commenting on the paucity of their love.  Instead, I was enthralled with the modern idea of romantic love I projected into the play. During high school, I spent most of my waking hours thinking about being in love, talking about being in love, reading about being in love (I had a 3-4 harlequin romance a week habit--I no longer read romance novels, thank God!), watching movies about being in love, or dreaming about being in love. I had this notion that I would meet THE ONE in high school like my parents did. I even ended up in a couple of long distance relationships where I read a lot more into the relationship than was actually there--I was actually engaged to one of them for a while in college!

Like the above author states, our culture has mistaken the feelings based on infatuation and fantasies for real love.  My ex used to quote the movie Willow and tell me, "You are my sun, my moon, my starlit night.  Without you, I dwell in darkness," And it would usually make me feel incredibly uncomfortable--yes, I was flattered, but the quote didn't actually reflect our relationship, and frankly, it wasn't a role that I wanted to have in his life.   I often felt like I had become an idol in his life, and I didn't like that feeling.  Early in our marriage, I let him know that I didn't feel comfortable being on a pedestal, but I eventually quit trying to correct him--it was a losing proposition....Maybe he was right and he didn't have me on a pedestal, but he clearly wasn't engaged with the real me either.  Rather, I was a stand-in for who he thought I was, and anything that didn't fit his ideal was rejected, made fun of, or otherwise censured. For instance, I didn't sing for almost 10 years when he was around, not even in the shower, because he told me repeatedly that I couldn't sing. The funny thing is that I'm not really angry with him for this--I honestly don't think that he understood what he was doing or that it was even wrong.  I'm angry (actually, I'm livid) with myself for allowing this to go on for so long--for being complicit in his disordered behavior.  I'm a pretty intelligent person, and I allowed this to happen when I should know better.

So, I hid my thoughts and feelings almost from the very beginning of our marriage--to hide who I was--in order to either keep the peace or keep from getting sniped at.  Over and over in my journals, I wrote that I couldn't tell my ex or that my ex didn't understand, or that my ex would get mad if he knew _______. I became a chameleon that took on the colors of her surroundings in order to please my ex.  When we were separated the first time, I started to remove the mask, but began wearing it again when my ex and I got back together--it fit badly, and the mask reeked, but it was the only way to save my marriage.  It is only in the last three to four years that I have begun to show who I truly am again--to remove the mask I have been hiding behind, and I credit my conversion to Catholicism for that.  Something about internalizing that each human has intrinsic value gave me courage, and the graces of the sacraments didn't hurt either!

I'm older, and, I hope, wiser than I was when I first married my ex.  I'm also a lot more confident in who I am, and I know that the Lord has done an incredible healing work in my life. In the process of growing up, healing, etc.,  I have come to the conclusion that it serves no one to hide who you are in a relationship. My actions have probably swung to the opposite side of the continuum: to over-disclosure, but I guess I'd rather be a little socially awkward and risk scaring the people around me than to hide who I am anymore.  I've also noticed in my own life that deception begets deception--it becomes easier to justify deception the more we practice deception of any kind. I don't want to be good at deception, and that means unlearning and modifying behavior, even when it is hard to be honest.  I realize that prudence must play a part in this, and I'm not going to blurt out my whole life to a perfect stranger (not even a co-worker or acquaintance). However, I am more willing to put who I am out there than I have been my whole life.

Going out dancing recently is a case in point--I mentioned to my niece that I really wanted to dance, and she told me to just go ask someone.  Then she said something that I find really profound: "It's just a dance."  Whether they say yes, or they say no, it is just a dance, not the end of the world.  So, I asked a few gentlemen to dance, volunteered once when some teenager was rejected by a girl sitting near me, and I had a lot of fun.  Like my real life, if people don't like me for who I am, then, "It's just a dance."  Not the end of the world, not the last chance ever to have a friend, and not the reason to go back into the self-made cage that I'm working on dismantling bar by bar.

When we finally separated for good, my ex told me that he missed the woman that he fell in love with, but apparently she didn't exist anymore.  In a sense, he was right, but I don't think the girl he fell in love with ever existed.  Instead, I pretended to be her, I'm not sure why, and I hurt both of us in the process.   Now comes the hard work of healing, forgiving, and becoming the person God wants me to be.