May we exist like the lotus at ease in muddy water.
As a child, I knew I would one day go to college. Academics were very important to my parents. A’s and B’s were expected and exalted. Physical activities, like competitive sports, well, not so much.
In fact, I learned to fear what I could do with my body. Climbing trees was forbidden. I became afraid of heights. Falling was discouraged. I became afraid of falling. Getting dirty meant getting in trouble. I learned to stay clean and my pet peeves became wet socks or having sand in between my toes with shoes on. So for me, academics became my focus; my safety from my fears and pet peeves, and sports, well, not so much.
It is also important for me to mention here that it really hurt for me to run. For me, running meant my lungs burned like fire. They would start to burn within just a few minutes of running 90% of the time. It also felt like I was breathing through a straw. For me, running was not fun. So while I did run for P.E. classes and some one mile races, it was often quite painful and it did not lend me to want to run and play sports. It was not until Physical Therapy school (in my late, late 20’s) that I was finally diagnosed with exercise induced asthma and running became less painful (at least for my lungs).
So why, in the year that I turned 39 did I start to run and push myself? Running became my place to be free. It helped me to shed the pounds (the skin) of who I was. Running became my moving meditation to mentally release my troubles and to focus on me, my body, and my thoughts. For someone who 98% of the time focused on the needs of others, it was time for me to learn to focus on myself. When running I was not a mother, a physical therapist or partner. While running I was free to be me. I gave myself the gift of being able to focus on whatever I wanted. And sometimes it was so freeing to focus on no-thing.
This past weekend I was awesomely amazed as to what I could do with my body. This weekend, I pushed my envelope and challenged myself. I broke through many of my fears, don’ts and “hate to do’s.” I challenged my fears (I had many). And I got to see how far I have come in this process called life, as I was able to see how much of my skin I have shed in the last year.
Even while favoring a hip flexor injury, I was able to complete most of the 25 obstacles in a Rugged Maniac 5K. In doing so, I was able to “put to bed” some of my greatest physical fears! I climbed ropes and scaled walls (it was not always gracefully). I crawled under barbed wire in muddy water. I crawled through narrow tunnels (did I mention I get claustrophobic?). I got stuck in mud to my knees and laughed as I fell in slow motion. The muddy clay was so thick on my feet and hands that it looked like I had boots and gloves on. I jumped over fires (ok, they weren’t big fires, but I could feel the heat as I hurdled over the burning wood!). There were tiny pebbles, mud, and debris in my wet shoes and socks for 2 hours. Instead of freaking out, I freaking LOVED IT! I felt alive like I had not felt for a very, very long time. In fact towards the end of the race I even lied down in the mud to remove any traces of cleanliness.
The best part?! The absolute best part was that I LOVED IT! It was so much fun that half-way through the race I actually found myself thinking that I’m DEFINITELY going to be doing this again NEXT YEAR!
See you at the races!