Saturday, November 1, 2008

A New Direction

Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless. - Jamie Paolinetti

So much of running is in your head. You have to believe you can meet your goal, get out there and do it, and not let doubt hold you back. The first time I ran a 5K, I had been running for about 3 months and had only worked up to running about 1 1/2 miles before needing to walk. I knew I needed a race to get me going so I signed up to run 5 kilometers in the August heat of Virginia, one week after getting off the plane moving home from Germany. Obviously I had lost my mind! My running stunk the week before the race, jet lag, sleeplessness, oppressive heat, and house hunting, were all conspiring against me. Fortunately, the morning of the run was shockingly cool and we were running through trees in the early morning. As I started the run I was immediately left in the dust by about 99% of the other runners, I thought, "Okay, I'll run for 1.5 miles and then take a walking break." As I approached that mark, I thought, "Well, I'm feeling good, not out of breath, I'll keep going to 2 miles." Every half mile I had the same conversation with myself until I suddenly realized 5K was within reach. I started thinking about how cool it would be to tell my family, who was waiting at the finish line, that I had run the whole thing, and that thought kept me going. I crossed the finish line in 33:43 , I was over the moon and hooked on racing. After that I knew I could run for 3 miles and no longer had an excuse to quit after 1.5 or 2 or 2.5. From then on adding miles was easier and I did, working all the way up to 7.5 before I had surgery.
Now I'm focused on getting back to that 7.5 miles. Again, the first few miles have been killer. I started October struggling to knock out 2 miles, stretched it to 3, took it back to 2 with extra speed, then back to 3, but I couldn't seem to break out. I guess I just needed a new month because I've celebrated November with a 5.3 mile trail run on my favorite route, the Nolan Trail. My Garmin beeped 5 miles well under an hour and I finished the 5.3 in 1 hour, 1 minute, and 42 seconds! Next time it will be faster! I have 2 more months until my birthday and I'm determined my gift to me will be to match that 7.5 mile run from nearly a year ago. I will, because I know I can!
Dealing with RA is no different. If you give in to the pain, it will take over and drain away all you will to move. It will convince you that you may be able to get through the required motions of the day, but that you can't possibly do more. The most important and hardest step is to decide to make moving and exercise, however basic, a top priority in life. You have to make it the first thing you do, and amazingly, the other things will still get done. Learning to overcome RA is what taught me to overcome many of my doubts, fears, and self-imposed limitations. Since being diagnosed with RA, I've finished my BA, home schooled, moved 3 times, traveled, camped, learned to run, discovered new hobbies, and held down the fort while my husband went off to fight a war. Despite the pain and endless shots, I truly believe RA has given me more than it has taken away. Someone said to me recently, "I pray God heals you." It is a nice thought, and I would surely be grateful, but I don't consider it a curse, merely a redirection.


Tanya said...

Nice post, and so true. The tough times we go through are often the times that teach us the most about ourselves and what we're capable of.

Sarah said...

Hey...congrats on a great run...that's awesome! I enjoyed reading your post.

I Run for Fun said...

It is so moving to read about your experience. You have come a long way. Great runs!

Clare said...

that last paragraph is SO TRUE. if i hadn't gotten RA, i NEVER would've started running, gotten in shape, etc. etc. etc. it gave me something to fight against...but in a good way.