Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Running on Empty

I was coasting through life on fumes on Sunday.  Late Saturday night, we had returned from almost two weeks of visiting family in New York.  Come Sunday morning, the kids were tired, the laundry was piled to the ceiling, my husband was gone for a rare day of golfing, the fridge was empty and so was I.

By the early afternoon, I could feel myself losing it.  I was having one of those woe-is-me days where I was only seeing the negative in everything.  Suddenly, the sacrifice and work I had put in to earn my MBA back in 2002 (when I had a 3 month-old baby) was on the forefront of my mind.  [You know it is bad when you are going back 10+ years to gather frustrations!]  I was lamenting the fact that I had worked so hard for something only to leave the workforce in 2008 to stay home with kids who were currently driving me over the edge.  I was frustrated that it is almost universally women who must make the hard choices in life regarding pursuing their career versus caring for their children.  And embittered that there was no right answer for most of us.

Needless to say, when my husband walked in the door at 2:30 that afternoon, I walked out.  With tears in my eyes.  I was doing my best to not have him bear the brunt of my frustration and I knew there was only one way for me to do that -- and that was for me to find a way to get centered.

So despite the fact that my knee has been bothering me ever since my last marathon in early June and most of my runs have been limited to a mere 3 miles, I jumped in my car and drove to Forest Park for a nice, long trail run.

Forest Park is basically a huge forest that has trails criss-crossing it that are perfect for walking, running and riding mountain bikes.  Usually, I keep my runs to one of the busiest trails because I feel safe there.  It is sad to admit but, as a woman, I just don't feel comfortable running on many of the trails in Forest Park by myself, especially on a weekday.  However, this was a Sunday and an absolutely gorgeous day so I knew there would be enough people in the park to allow me to run on a trail that usually is eerily quiet and empty -- Wildwood Trail.

Wildwood Trail...a.k.a. Heaven on Earth
I ran with no watch, no music and no goal.  Although my car said it was 86 degrees out when I started, the lack of humidity in Portland combined with the cooling canopy of the forest to create perfect running conditions.  As I flew along the single track trail, I could feel my spirit lifting.  The warm breeze dried my tears and I dropped each concern, worry, frustration and regret along the trail and never looked back.





I found myself picturing my husband at the pool with the kids (which was where he was going to take them while I went for my run) and smiling...thinking about how lucky I am to have his love and support in whatever I decide to do with my life.  I found myself grateful for the beauty that surrounds me every day and for the people who are in my life...even the little ones who drive me crazy at times.  And I found myself becoming ME once again.  I returned to my car around 9 miles later a completely different person.




Everyone has different mechanisms for coping with stress.  Some people eat.  Some people see therapists.  Some people drink.  Some people shop.

I run.

I run long distances to feel good (not to look good).  It is through the pain of running that I find serenity.  And I am filled up once again.

*******************

[And, truth be told, stopping for beverages on my way home helped a little, too!]


- Kristen

19 comments:

  1. Love. I wish we had trails like that. I was just listening to a sermon about refilling our souls. It was so good and so appropriate. We run on empty for too long before we have a chance to do something to fill them back up.

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    1. So true, Tayarra! I think you'll have plenty of running on your schedule when you come to Oregon for HTC next month but if there is any free time, I'll take you up to Wildwood Trail for a run. :)

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  2. Glad you found a way to re-center yourself. Running is like that for me too :)

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    1. Happy to hear that you get the same thing out of running, too, Karen. Although they may not realize it, my running is actually good for the whole family. ;)

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  3. Absolutely the TRUTH! Being out in nature has a way of letting everything release for me. Glad you got yours in (and out)!

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    1. It definitely has a lot to do with being in nature. I can get a lot out of pounding the pavement but if I really want to replenish my soul, I need to hit the trails.

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  4. I love those trails! I would give anything for lower humidity too! That's a great outlet. Much better than having a meltdown. Good for you!

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    1. I am just lucky to live on the west coast -- humidity just kills me!

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  5. What a beautiful, honest post. It is the first time I have read your blog...it touched me so much! As a mom and two toddlers and just starting back to get my masters, I could totally connect. I feel like we are told this myth all our lives that we can "have it all." When really, we have to make choices (especially as women) everyday for what we can do in that moment.

    My hubby usually says "why don't you go for a run or the gym" - he JUST knows that is what I need =).

    Thank you for this post!

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    1. Yes, as a mom to toddlers and starting back for your masters, I am sure you can relate! As a woman and mom, having choices should be a good thing, right? But in reality, I find it causes me to constantly question my decisions! Good luck with your masters. Sounds like your hubby will be your biggest supporter. :)

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  6. Minutes after discovering your blog (via Runninghood) and reading this post, I watched the movie Gone. If you have not yet watched it, please don't... it creeped me out! It was filmed in PDX and has connections to Forest Part. FP is one of my favorite places to run even though I live 25 miles outside of Portland. Great site!

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    1. OMG. I just read the movie synopsis for Gone. I will definitely NEVER watch it! I get freaked out running alone in Forest Park as it is -- the last thing I need is to watch a scary movie about it! I'm going to go check out your blog now. :)

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  7. That is exactly what I did after coming home from a camping trip last weekend (though it was only 4 days long). I couldn't handle life until I went running, then it felt like I had really come home and life seemed manageable again!

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    1. I can so relate to that, Amy. Having an outlet (like running) is so important!

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  8. I thought I'd commented on this post but I must have responded in my crazy, overloaded head. Sorry! I can TOTALLY relate to this post. 100% completely. Yes to all of it. I am SO glad you got out for your run, so glad it made you feel better and SO glad to see how you rehydrate! One of these days girl, we'll run together (and rehydrate together as well...).

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    1. Ha! You make me laugh, Petra! Yes, we need to run AND rehydrate together. So glad you can relate...as I know I am not alone when I talk about running being good for my soul. xo

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  9. North of San Francisco there are some great trails like the ones you've posted. Alas, I no longer live there. Thanks for sharing those serene photos!

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    1. Ahh, yes, I don't know that I've ever run north of San Francisco but I have friends who talk about their amazing runs around there. Hope you have somewhere beautiful to run wherever you live now!

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  10. I enjoy reading stories about athletes. For me one of the most effective motivational tools is to learn the others' experience. The following resource was also of great help for me - http://bit.ly/Qh9G8S. Among other interesting things, I have also read there about the importance of proper nutrition. I even started taking pre-workout supplement they wrote about. I was pleasantly surprised when I've noticed the first results. My strength and endurance went up, making my workouts much more effective. My shape has improved and I've even lost weight without any special diet.

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