Monday, December 17, 2007


Let's compare friendships to my training runs. I'm not certain that I can call them a microcosm at this point, but they definitely have similarities.

Last week was quite the emotional one - at many levels. (I have definitely had friendships that were "quite emotional"). Although the 18 mile run was not as physically draining as it could have been, there was certainly an emotional aspect. I keep hearing veteran marathoners say that the majority of a marathon is "mental". Now, whether that means that you have to be mental to do it is wide open for quite a variety of interpretations.

On Tuesday last week, I was still elated with my accomplishment, but late that day, I boarded the emotional roller coaster. I cried, I lost sleep, I woke up early Wednesday and ran 6 miles. I still felt drained, everything was just a bit off. Later that morning, I received my first deep tissue massage in about 7 years. I think the word "massage" should be omitted here.

The therapist was fabulous and well trained. However, I learned that there are a few places on my body that don't get stretched nearly enough (primarily in my shoulders - which carry tension - HA! and where my minor and major glut muscles meet - let's not go there). For someone who has an extraordinary high pain threshold, I can honestly say that the pain brought tears to my eyes and still being on the emotional roller coaster, I let the flood gates open. Later, mentor Page, told me that those massages (let's call it deep tissue stimulation - massage evokes too much of a spa relaxation event) should be treated like one would go through the birthing process. You need to put yourself in a happy place outside your body to focus on and take deep cleansing breaths. Now I know.

I had to drink a ton of water, soak in epsom salts, and take ibuprofen to be even semi-mobile. Physically, I felt worse after the deep tissue, um, stimulation than I did after the 18 mile run. Seriously.

But the pain eventually subsided to a dull ache (as opposed to gut-wrenching-eye-watering-I-can't-bear-the-touch-of-a-feather pain). I moved on. But my emotional and physical resources were still depleted.

By Saturday morning, I still ached, but with the help of Chuck and Page, I managed to run the fasted 8 miles I've ever had (1 hr 41 minutes). They kept it interesting, dodged traffic with me, challenged me, and of course made me laugh. Chuck, at one point, held on to my arm and "pulled" me up the last few paces of a hill (thanks Chuck!!!). Page challenged us to sprint to a light pole (I won't say who won that one!!!). The first 20 minutes or so of the run were painful (in the places that were sore from the deep tissue event). But after that, it didn't really matter. I put myself in happy place and stayed there.

My sincere thanks to Chuck and Page for staying with me and taking walk breaks (and also for making me stop walking and RUN)!

As for friends and friendships ... there are good times and not so good times. Sometimes you have to ask people for directions. Sometimes when you get directions from someone, you still grab the map out of their hand. Sometimes, you have to learn to trust the person holding the map. Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot (i.e. - when you're holding the map and someone asks you for directions). That's when you have to learn to trust your instincts (a la Polar Express girl).

But like training for endurance events, friendships are tremendously rewarding. They give you strength, they give you perspective, they give you humility, they provide laughter, they challenge you, they can make you cry but they can also bring you peace.

So to my friends and family (both new and not so new), I thank you - I thank you for listening while I regale you with my running stories. I thank you for meeting me for coffee. I thank you inviting me to do things with you (even though you know I'm going to talk about running or legos or Dominic). I thank you for helping me with fund raising, for sending me earrings, for meeting for lunch or dinner, for letting me cry in front of you, for providing words of encouragement - even if they are from an easy chair and your feet are propped up, for all of the helpful tips, funny stories, and empathy, for your prayers, for reading my blog, and for your concern not only for my welfare but for the well being of Laura, the friend in whose honor I have inspired to attempt this test of endurance.

1 comment:

jim lyle said...

you just redefine heroic with every run. so impressive. so brave. jim