Running has many purposes in my life. Yes, it keeps me in shape and allows me to eat whatever I want, but it does a lot more. It allows me to set ridiculous goals, that with hard work, and a shift in my mental fitness, accomplish them. It provides me with a healthy sense of control. Today I found a new purpose.
This morning was beautiful. It was one of those Portland mornings that you tuck away in a special place to be brought back out on the normally cloudy, gray, and wet winter days. We call days like today three-mountain days. Saint Helens looked like it was right across the river. Incredible. The sun was shining the whole time. The wind held off. Well, it held off for most of the run. We had a huge group and were headed up and over Terwilliger for 18 miles. Leaving the Lincoln track, there was a bunch of chatter. It continued all the way through the trail of Tryon Creek and down to 43 in Lake Oswego. Then, we turned around and back up the hill.
The return trip is a bit of a different story. It's quiet except for the increased breathing because of the elevation gains. The quiet allows me to be inside my own head for a while. I've always thought of running as a form of therapy, thus explaining the inexplicable tears that appear out of nowhere during taper weeks. The last couple of weeks have been tough relationship-wise. Not that anything earth shattering happened, but there was enough activity to send me into a slump for a few days. The last few years have been difficult in relationship-land and reality in general. If you have followed this blog, you've read about it. Today was a game changer.
A last minute decision at the intersection of Barbur and Terwilliger sent us back up, into the shade and hills. As we reached a particular viewpoint that almost makes those hills worth the effort, I noticed I was tearing up. I realized that these were happy tears, and as this realization settled over me, so did a sense of acceptance. For the first time in a VERY long time, I felt satisfied with my life. I felt like if someone asked me how I was, I could actually reply with an honest, "Good," instead of the safe, "Okay." As we descended the hills and returned to town, thoughts about all areas of my life flooded my brain. Even thoughts about where my "love-life" stands and my dissatisfaction with work, felt positive. Maybe this was a result of the elusive runner's high.
Our pace began to slow as we neared the end of the run. Conversation about Boston began and, again, those happy tears reappeared. A lap around the track in order to earn the 18th beep of all three watches, a little yoga, some time at Starbucks and that feeling of acceptance was still floating around my body.
Today's run was hard. But it was a hard run that made me realize I am doing what I want in many areas of my life. I can accept the areas that I need or want to work on, and I will work on them because I want my life to keep improving. Today's run somehow allowed/encouraged my brain to finally let go of some baggage and begin to move forward. I am hopeful that this was not simply a case of a runner's high because it has not faded. Okay, maybe it has faded, but I believe that is the result of the fatigue that comes from running 18 miles of hills. I am hopeful that this is a case of learning how to deal with the hand that has been dealt to me in a positive and productive manner. More importantly, I am sure it is a case of me understanding how much I appreciate this gift we call life and all that is included in mine...even including an often ridiculous romantic portion and a dog who drives me to the edges of insanity and credit limits. Today, running gave this to me.