Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us

Deena Kastor

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mind over Matter

So far I have truly enjoyed sharing my thoughts with my nine followers and others who read my posts. Ok, one of the followers is myself, so eight followers. I hope to attract more as we involve our friends, family members, and the community in our effort to support child abuse prevention education.

The training is going well and is increasing steadily each week. I find myself getting hungrier throughout the day. I am sure my body will adjust to the changes though. The Seattle Marathon is next weekend after Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to it. I ran last year and had a horrible race so I am hoping to have a better experience this time. It is a beautiful city with so much to do and see I don't think anyone would blame me if I decided to skip the race and go holiday shopping instead.

I know this is the time of year to think about the things or people we are thankful for having in our lives.  I have a very, very long list. Where would you be without certain people in your life? Or, where would you be if certain events didn't take place at a certain time in your life? Wouldn't your life be different? Probably not as good right?

I really like the part in the movie Forest Gump when he is at Jenny's grave and he is saying that he doesn't know whether "momma" or "lieutenant Dan" was right-do we each have a destiny or are we floating around gentle-like on a breeze? He says "maybe its both-maybe both is happening at the same time". I know I am thankful for that movie :)

I don't know for sure, but I do think about it alot-usually while I'm running. I think about the people in my life and how they have all in some way helped me to be who I am. And I am a pretty neat person so I owe a big thanks to a whole bunch of people. Whether it was part of a destiny or not-I'll just say I am grateful.

At mile 21 of my first marathon there was a man shouting from the side of the course, "Its mind over matter from here, its mind over matter from here" I have told this story a couple of times already and I will probably keep telling it. When you run a marathon, mile 21 is when it really starts to get difficult and it becomes the time when you start questioning your decision to start the race and doubting yourself that you will finish. It really is "mind over matter". I finished and have been thankful for him-and I think of his words every time I reach mile 21.

That's the way it is for the difficulties and challenges we face in life. Our beliefs, faith, perseverance, and connection with others is what drives us to finish. So, I wish you well this Thanksgiving and I hope that we all take the time to be thankful for life-the people in it and our ability to live it with grace and compassion. And don't forget to thank yourself as well, because you never know who's sitting at the table before a roasted turkey being so thankful for having known you.



Sunday, November 7, 2010

You are Not a Cat

I will never forget the day during a not so good time in my life when I was given a very important piece of information. It wasn't advice-just words to live by. It was a time when I had just about given up on life and had taken many chances, nearly coming close to the end. But sitting across from me one morning was a woman who seemed to have much more faith in me than I had in myself. Our conversation was coming to an end and there was that last pause that sometimes happens before one or both people get up to leave. She looked at me and I was looking out the window to the right and she said to me, "You are not a cat". I turned and looked at her and then the floor and said, "ok".

Honestly, I didn't think about what she said to me until years later. But it's true, we are not cats, we don't have nine lives-only one.  And I try to remember that and recite it to myself every time I feel afraid to try something new, or hesitant to say something that I know is important or would make another person feel better. Or, when I run.

There are many brave people in the world who do great things and make the one life they have count. Just think of all the moms and dads in the world who take on the challenge of raising human beings. Now, that's what I call being brave, especially when they are trying to work and get straight A's in parenting at the same time. A  good parent knows that he/she is not a cat and that their children are not cats either.

I know that this blog has not been about the specifics of my training for April. But it has been about running. Running for me, is a reflection of my life. It's slow and uncomfortable sometimes. It involves triumph over adversity and an unbelievable amount of patience. I've learned to love myself and my body and it's ability to do amazing things.  And like many people I have developed an deep appreciation for the human heart-the way it keeps us alive and helps us to feel compassion.

I imagine though, as my training becomes more challenging I will be telling you all of my new found aches and pains that are uncommon for those who run just one marathon (you know-the NORMAL people!) And I will be sorry for boring you all to death, but hey, maybe I am already:) The thing is runners like to talk about running and in my experience the only people who like to hear about running are other runners. Just ask my husband. I'm sure by April he would pay a million dollars to anyone who could convince me to try another sport.

So, eat a little bacon, go sky diving, write the letter you've been meaning to write, send your sister the  eyeshadow she let you borrow for your wedding, start going to the gym (ASAP), tell that one person you love them. What are you waiting for? are not a cat.



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gettin' jiggly wit' it

While on vacation I was standing in front of a mirror in a motel room, naked, performing an inspection. Ladies, you know what kind of inspection I'm talking about. The one where we face the mirror to see what jiggles from the front, then we turn to the side to see how far our tummies are bulging out, despite how much we suck it in and try to imagine how easy it would be to take a hatchet to our butt and trim off the excess. What's a little blood right? Then very quickly we turn with our back facing the mirror and crane our neck around to see what we look like from behind. In our minds we think "is this what my husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/partner sees in the morning?" During my inspections you might often hear things like, "oh my god!" or "where did that come from?" or "how is that possible?" On this particular evening (after dinner of course-the worst time to perform an inspection) I looked at my husband and asked him if he ever looks at himself in the mirror. "Never" he says. What??? How can that possibly be??? Ugh, its so unfair.

Knowing your body well is an important part of being a good runner. Not a faster runner necessarily, or someone who runs more than everyone else and wins races- just a good runner. You must be able to recognize when you need time off or when you need to eat more or differently. A good runner just has to have passion and a true love for the sport-not the best shoes or a popular sportswear sponsorship. I think you have to know why you run or else you might not make it very far. That's probably the same for almost anything you do in life. Why do you do what you do? Say that ten times fast :) Seriously, why do work where you work? why do you wake up in the morning? why do you eat vegetables? why do you wear a seat belt? why do call a friend or family member just for the heck of it on some idle Thursday afternoon?

I ask myself why I run quite often. The truth is I have many reasons. What might be surprising to some people is that I do not run in order to obtain a "runner's" body. I have been running for fifteen years and I still don't have one so there's no sense in trying to get one now. By the way, if you have ever been to a local race or even a big city marathon, you will notice that there are  many different body shapes and sizes crossing the finish line all at once. Maybe the "runner's" body is a myth. I know that when I tell people I'm a runner the first thing they do is "check me out". As if there is some standard of body weight, height, or shape you must have before anyone will believe you are a runner.

So I have some body fat. I jiggle in several places. I don't have bulging, veiny (if that's a word), calves or six-pack abs of steel. SOME people would argue with me about this but my calves actually look more like Fred Flinstone's than someone who runs marathons. I definitely don't run to win which is totally confusing for some people. But I am a runner. And you are whatever you are, regardless of how much you jiggle.

For all you women and men who inspect your bodies- weighing, measuring, and pinching every inch of skin, bone, or fat you have-embrace it. Don't let anything  you see in the mirror stop you from doing what you want to do-whatever it is. If it's running you want to do, join me.  Put on your shoes, and get jiggly wit' it.