Monday, October 31, 2011

Running {myself into the ground}

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday. I had a bee in my bonnet. A bone to pick. Anxiety. Anger. Frustration. Not at any one or any thing in particular. I just had them. And as those things usually do, they found their way out of my mouth in the form of accusations and blame directed at my sweet husband for no good reason.

So, after I vented my frustrations and abused my husband's Sunday morning, I bundled up and fled the house for a a run. Not just any run. A 10-miler. The last long run before next Saturday's Monumental Half Marathon. Before I got out of the car, I texted Blake that I was sorry and that I would "be in a better mood in 10 miles." Well, 10 miles later, I was certainly in a different mood. And against all odds, it was better.

As I set off on the Monon, I felt horrible. I felt guilty about being mean to Blake. I felt bad for leaving him home to clean the house and care for Audrey and Toby while I got to exercise. I felt anxious about whatever it was I was feeling anxious about. I felt the stiff new strap of my $$$ new sports bra digging into my shoulders. I felt the seam of my sock rubbing my little toe. I felt cold. I felt defeated and I had barely even started. I wasn't sure I'd finish and I wasn't sure how I'd explain that to my long-distance training partner and race buddy, Lauren.

I told myself that after a mile or so, I'd feel better. That I'd settle in. Well, I didn't. The nagging bra strap didn't improve until I took it off and totally rearranged the settings (in a stinky port-o-let, mind you). The sock didn't stop rubbing until I took it off and turned it inside out. I couldn't warm up because I had to keep stopping. Uggh. Finally, at the 2.5 mile marker, I started to feel better. Some good tunes were coming up on my iPod, my hands warmed up enough to take off my gloves. The bra was feeling worth all the $$$ I spent on it.  The sun was coming out. I thought to myself over and over again: "Okay, you can do this. You will do this. Just one foot it front of the other."

And then, just as I was starting to convince myself that the mantra was true. Wham. No, it was more like a: scuffle, "%$&%*", ouch, waaah. I tripped, most likely over my own two feet, and hit the ground knee and then hands first.

As I rolled over and lay on my back - sprawled out on the Monon, checking to make sure nothing was broken - I looked up at the blue sky through the leaves and branches. "Why, God?" There was of course no audible answer. Tears streamed down my cold cheeks as I picked myself up and looked around. There was no one in sight. Just me, my bleeding, gravel-packed palms and throbbing knee. I debated what to do. Turn around and shamefully head back to my car? Or plug on and do the whole damn 10 I had set out to do?

I hobbled a few steps to see how things felt. Not good. But not terrible. So I set off north, determined to at least make it to the 86th Street Taco Bell to wash my hands out. Once I got that far, I figured I could make it two more miles north and then another 5 back to the car. Long story short, I did the whole 10 miles. My hands and wrists hurt so bad that I could barely turn the steering wheel on the way home. And the shower did not help the road rash on the various other parts of my body.  Today, I am stiff all over, and not just from running. But, I felt good. I do feel good.

Yesterday, I woke up ungrateful and behaved in an unloving way towards the person I love the most. And I got what I deserved - a little smacking around and a painful reminder that I can't take anyone or anything for granted. Not even the ability to put one foot in front of the other.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect: A Nice Person in a Nice Person's Body

I've always thought of myself as a nice person. As a faithful person. As an honest person. A moral, trustworthy, conscientious person. But sometimes I'm a nice person trapped in a mean person's mind, heart, mouth, and body. Since I became a mom, my nice has been nicer and my mean, well, it's actually been meaner. I could blame hormones or lack of sleep for the extremes. I could blame my fierce desire to protect Audrey for the rage that takes over my gut in response to all things that threaten her (the barking dog, the guy driving too fast down our street, the neighbors' chickens). But, excuses are for lazy idiots. And, I will not make excuses (any more) for setting a poor example for my daughter.

I will be a nice person. And it will take practice and deliberate intention.

A few weeks ago, I read this blog post about doing nice things: O My Family - Friendly Friday,  and thought to myself, "Kate, you are so blessed - you should do more nice things for people."  Okay. I didn't exactly think that.  But, the post did sit in the back of my mind for a few days and I debated doing something nice so that I could blog about it and post it on O My Family. Then, I thought that doing something nice for that purpose alone was not actually nice, but self-serving. So, I split the difference and did something nice but didn't write about it or link it up. But now, O My Family is smacking its readers around and challenging us to seriously do something nice AND blog about it. See how she does it gently right here. So fine. I'll do it. Not because I need to share what I did. But because maybe, like O My Family did for me, it will encourage you to do something nice too. 

What I did:  I never, I mean never, give change to homeless people on the street. I maybe give a smile. But, usually, even if my hand is in my pocket clutching wads of cash, I just walk. on. by.  I have two excuses for dismissing the homless' cries for help. #1 - The person claiming to be homeless may not actually be homeless. Maybe they just don't want to get a job. Maybe they just want to drink or do drugs all day. Maybe they are lazy. Maybe they are a bad person and that's why they don't have a family to live with. #2 - If I give the money in my pocket to a reputable organization instead, then I know that it's going to be used for people who "really need it." But let's be honest, I rarely ever give the money to any organization, much less a reputable one.

Well, the other week, I was walking to Panera downtown to buy lunch. I passed no fewer than 3 people, sitting on the ground with signs and cups in hand. I started repeating excuses #1 and #2 to myself.  But then, as the sun shone down on me and my clean clothes and my new shoes and my trendy purse full of cash money and a jazzy cell phone featuring photos of my adorable baby, funny puppy, and handsome husband, it dawned on me: "Kate. These people are sitting on the dirty ground in a busy city. They have cardboard signs and plastic cups full of nickles and dimes. They are asking for your help. You can give them a little bit of what they are asking for and it won't affect your happiness or wealth one stinkin bit. Who are you to judge if they 'really need it'?" That last part got me. I'm not here to judge (though I do it on a regular basis). So instead of judging the sign-toters and choosing to ignore them, I judged their signs. The last one, held by a young woman strategically sitting outside of Panera, asked specifically for food. She likes muffins and lemonade. She told me this as I handed her a muffin and a lemonade.

Trying to be a nice person in a nice person's body,