To say that 2009 was a big year could be interpreted as an understatement. For the last couple of weeks I have been thinking about where I was a year ago and how much has changed, how different my life is in a year's time. Last year in late autumn, early winter I was miserable, deeply unhappy, feeling helpless. Now I feel like I have taken my life more in hand. That is not to say that all is perfect - nirvana is a goal, it's a process not an actual state, at least for me right now.
Yesterday I decided to squeeze in some time on the treadmill because like nirvana, working towards better health, greater discipline, and more meditation is my process. BC had mentioned that when time is short for a workout that if I did hill work it would kind of count double, with that I mind I set the machine for "mountain climb" and thirty minutes, where normally I usually do an hour or more.
A few minutes into the work out I discovered I pushed the wrong button and hit "interval" instead. Turns out that means that every minute and a half the speed jumps up 2 miles per hour for thirty seconds. What does that mean? It means one has to run. However I have steadfastly maintained that I.Do.Not.Run.Period. So what did I do? I who am for the first time ever partnered with a competitive runner? I who am reading my second Runner's World cover to cover to understand her obsession, to learn tips that she might not have seen? I ran. God help me, I ran. Every minute and a half, holding onto the hand holds for dear life, feeling panicked and breathing hard, I ran for thirty endless seconds.
I was grateful that I had closed to door as I muttered "fuck" more than once during those thirty second intervals and The Kid was in the next room. Why didn't I stop, why didn't I restart the program? I don't know but I just felt like I had started something and I had to finish, had to see what happened. I could say that about a lot of the last year - trying to give my all, working towards change, doing scary things. But why running? Why this day? Why confront my mortal enemy? A day later I still don't know. I spent most of the time dreading the next running piece, my knee started aching earlier than usual, my shin spoke sharply to me, and I felt like crying, especially when the tread rotated faster. It felt like a deep well of sad or hurt, or something being poked at, it felt scary. And yet I finished the session.
When it was over my chest ached as if I had cried, or maybe like I was holding back tears. Standing still, holding my face in my hands, my breathing a bit ragged and still feeling totally bewildered, I noticed this tiny seed of pride that despite the pain, fear, my stance of "I am not a runner, I will not run" that I managed to push myself this tiny bit into the discomfort, into this strange land.
BC was happy and proud when I said "I ran." My response? "You actually like doing this?" She insisted I ice my knee, so I gave into the caring response, again not my usual thing. The shower felt good. I dressed for our New Year's Eve gathering and came downstairs, grimacing a bit on the stairs to finish laying out the food. We didn't talk about it again, I didn't tell anyone what I had done. In fact I mostly lost track of it but when I remembered my thought was "why did I do that", and "I have no intention of doing that again." But is that true? Mostly I think it is because seriously I'm not sure which was worse the physical discomfort or the emotional. On the other hand how does one go backwards from confronting a fear, a hard limit that suddenly has the smallest bit of flex? I don't have an answer and since today is a rest day in my training I also do not have to face it. Not today. Maybe not tomorrow or even next month but on the other hand even if I never run again something is changed forever. It is hard to define it or even describe it, something about doing something that is completely counter to how you define yourself, to what you think is possible for you to do, it moves something deeply internal. The shift is tiny, but like the butterfly effect, you never know how a small movement or gesture will reshape the future into something different than would have never been without it.