After being greeted with, "Lookin' good!" and "Doin' great, keep it up!" within the first mile of the Sabino road, I began to wonder: Do I really look that bad?!
I began the morning early by waking at 4:05 a.m. After quickly preparing for the 16-mile run I had planned, I headed out to my car, worried about the battery and hoping I wouldn't have to call C to come give me a jump. Thankfully, the car started.
As I got out of my car at Sabino, I recognized a familiar face across the parking lot; fellow trail runner, fantastic volunteer/aid crew and all-around great person, Bob. He was heading out for two trips up-and-back on the road; I had planned to do Seven Falls followed by the road. He looked strangely at my hair, and I remembered that I had dyed it bright red the night before (it's much more red than orange this time and I absolutely LOVE it). At 5:08 a.m., after wishing each other good luck, I took off.
The first 8.25 miles to Seven Falls and back was uneventful. No one was out on the trail; I was the first human to arrive at Seven Falls this morning. It was warm already, even though the sun hadn't risen, and I appreciated the cool pockets of air tucked into side canyons. I felt great.
When I reached my car, I realized I hadn't started my watch back for the way down, but had looked at the time, so I knew I did it in 2:10, which is just about normal for me. I took a seven-minute break to change my shoes from my heavy Montrail Hardrocks to my much lighter Sauconys and use the restroom. I had been hydrating with a combo of water and nuun, and was pleasantly surprised to see my fingers had not yet swollen, which was strong testimony for nuun.
Ready, set, go - it was about 7:30 or so and time to do the 7.5-mile out-and-back on the road. I knew I had already done Seven Falls, but I didn't think I really looked so bad as to garner two separate peoples' encouragement! I appreciated it, or at least, tried to appreciate it. It's hard when folks think you look like you need encouragement only one mile into your day's run, yet you know you are (most likely) doing more than they are doing, and have already completed over half of your run!
Boy, does that tell you where my mind was at! Instead of viewing their comments positively (yay! people are encouraging me!), I was taking them negatively. I've been dealing with a stressful situation with a person whom I don't get along with (a person who seriously dislikes me), and it's been wearing me down. I'm having a hard time seeing the positive in any part of my life, and when I get like this, my brain starts finding the negative in everything. I start seeking out reinforcement from other areas in my life to back up why I am such a horrible person not worthy of anything: I eat too much, I weigh too much, I'm not training enough, I'm not nice enough, I'm not understanding enough, I'm not tactful enough, I'm too prickly, I'm too cranky, I'm too pissy, etc.
I had bad dreams last night, (eww alert!) dreams of being pursued and shot at, dreams of pushing dead bodies out of the way while I swam through a sewage treatment plant, running for my life. I'm seriously upset about this personality conflict situation and I don't know what to do or how to handle it.
So I started mulling things over. Well, first, I had to run a bit with Bob who was coming back down the road, then I had to talk to a project partner who was coming down the road, and then wave hi to another guy from our trail running group. I also spotted someone from C's soccer team, but we were separated by trees and couldn't really say hi. It was such a friendly morning!
Okay, back to the mulling things over. As my legs went numb and I tried to block out the pain of a long run - pain I hadn't experienced in quite some time - I remembered that I have choice. I can choose how I want to move in this situation. I started thinking about who's opinion of me matters most, and after running off a few different people's names in my head, I remembered - mine! My opinion of me is the only one that matters! I'm not going to base my value or worth on what other people think of me. I'm going to base it on what *I* think of me. I'm not going to rely on other people to make me feel valuable or worthy or okay, because I can't! Only *I* can decide I want to feel valuable or worthy or okay. My feelings are my responsibility. This other person's feelings are their responsibility. I hit the turnaround in the road, experiencing deja vu as a cyclist passed me for the second time. Then I headed back down the hill and picked up my train of thought again.
Another part of my responsibility is to act in a way that I feel maintains my integrity. And honestly? I don't think I have. I think I have contributed to making the situation worse by acting in a passive-agressive manner and doing things that I knew would most likely provoke the other person - part of what was making me feel so miserable and bad.
I decided I wanted to feel better. I decided I would have compassion for myself regarding the way I have acted so far, and I decided I wanted to change the way I've been dealing with this situation. Instead of reacting to this person, I decided I was going to act of my own accord (act according to my pink fuzzy). I decided to choose a word to define how I wanted to act. I chose "grace." By this time, my legs were really starting to hurt - in a good way - and I was having difficulty running. It was pretty much flat to downhill, but my legs just didn't want to move. I was about 14 miles into the run, and knew I was almost over. So I decided to use "grace" as a mantra to keep me going. Well "grace" turned into "grace and mindfulness" which turned into "grace, strength and mindfulness" which turned into "graceful strength, mindful courage."
Graceful strenth, mindful courage: this is how I want to approach all areas of my life. Running, parenting, romantic relationships, friend relationships, work relationships. Most importantly, this particular stressful situtaion. It won't get resolved overnight, or even this week or month, but as long as I maintain graceful strength, mindful courage, I will get through this situation in my best way possible. It won't be easy or fun or nice. It will definitely be hard and I will have to "speak up, even if my voice shakes" (saw that on a bumper sticker). I want to have dignity, treat this other person with respect and compassion, and remember to do the same for myself. I am not perfect; however, I am aware and I know how I want to be. I will never stop striving to have graceful strength, mindful courage in all aspects of my life - while remembering that I am human and it's okay if I don't have graceful strength, mindful courage all the time.
Drenched in water to keep myself cool, I was within a half-mile of the finish. While it could not be considered a sprint, I certainly upped my speed and ran a decent pace to the visitor's center where I arrived at 9:16. In 1:46, that was definitely the slowest I've ever ran the road! I decided I needed a cool-down, plus I wanted some extra distance, so I walked a ways out on the dirt road that starts the trek to Seven Falls. While walking, I calculated the distance and realized that with my cooldown, I did a total of 16.5 miles today; the farthest distance I have gone since June 10, 2006 (Sugar & Spice 50k). How exciting!
I'm pretty sore, but not too bad. I'm savoring the feeling of satisfaction that comes with a great long run with plenty of time to mull things over and my favorite breakfast at a local coffeeshop: tofu scramble, roasted red potatoes and wheat toast.