Greetings friends! I was very moved last night, when I saw the
following note on my Facebook page from Pema Chodren.
We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure
and the futility of running from pain. We hear also about the joy of awakening,
of realizing our interconnectedness, of trusting the openness of our hearts and
minds. But we aren't told all that much about this state of being in-between, no
longer able to get our old comfort from the outside but not yet dwelling in a
continual sense of equanimity and warmth.
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the
in-between state. It's the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge
is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The
challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid.
Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only
makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle,
compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not
acting like we know what's happening, we begin to access our inner
Yet, it seems reasonable to want some kind of relief.
If we can make the situation right or wrong, if we can pin it down in any way,
then we are on familiar ground. But something has shaken up our habitual
patterns and frequently they no longer work. Staying with volatile energy
gradually becomes more comfortable than acting out or repressing it. This
open-ended tender place is called bodhichitta. Staying with it is what heals. It
allows us to let go of our self-importance. It's how the warrior learns to
love. (Pema Chodren, From The Places That Scare You)
I am so antsy right now, I want to run. OK, yes, I pretty much always want to run. yeah yeah yeah. I
struggle with this whole "in the meantime" concept. I struggled with it all summer (see earlier blog post.) Those of us who engage in endurance activities are often asked or rather told that what we do is an addition. Have I traded one addiction or another? Is that why I love endurance training and events? I don't consider what we do to be an addiction. For me, completing an Ironman or running 100+ miles is an opportunity. For others it may be a 5k, or completing a power yoga class. It doesn't matter what IT is. Do you have something that you are totally passionate about? If not, stop now.... go find it immediately. I believe that endurance events allow us to transcend being human. Pushing through struggles and not giving up is success. This is the way of the warrior.
I've been challenged by life lately. Life as of late has been a wee bit of a tsunami for me. Contrary to my fantasies, my body will not allow me pull a Forrest Gump and run across the country. Although, I
often sorta joke that if you see a crazy chic dressed in business casual running wildly down the highway that would be me... and yes I lost it, please just let me run it off! OK, maybe I needed a
tsunami.My head and body will allow me to push through incredible things. My life was completely wrecked this summer, and now I am in what Pema Chodren is
referring to as "the meantime." My meantime includes 4 children, a demanding job in government relations, a husband that is recovering from multiple brain surgeries, my recovery from 4+ months of caregiving, and a piriformis and sciatic nerve that have a lot to say.
My "in the meantime" isn't bad. But, it's very uncomfortable. I don't have the physical outlet of running and biking my double digit miles that I normally do. For now, I am running single digit
miles, swimming under 1 mile, and using my yoga for strength and recovery. I am also heavily relying on prayer and meditation. I will eventually compete again and kick ass... mark my words. Now, I am recovering and learning all over again.
"Fragile" in Tuscany on September 11, 2001
To say that this summer didn't turn out as planned would be an
understatement. But, really- all's well that ends well- right?! I feel like I
can't complain. No entitlement here. Please see my last blog if you have no
idea what I'm talking about.
I raced only once this summer. I competed for the first time in one of the
Terramungus Sprint Triathlons. These triathlons are run weekly throughout the
summer in Marlborough, CT. I planned on competing in a number of sprint
triathlons, The Mossman Triathlon (Bridgeport, CT, Olympic distance), and I had
also planned on two 70.3 Ironman Triathlons- Syracuse and New Hampshire. My
training and racing was put aside to care for my husband.
At the end of the summer my piriformis muscle began giving me problems and it
was irritating my sciatic nerve. This is called piriformis syndrome. Brief
anatomy lesson.... The piriformis is a muscle that travels behind the hip joint.
and it works to externally rotate (turn out) the hip joint. The sciatic nerve
and the piriformis tendon cross each other behind the hip joint, in the deep
buttock. When the piriformis muscle and the piriformis tendon are too tight, the
sciatic nerve is irritated. It really made my lower back, and hips very very
I had been ignoring this pain and running through it. Until one day, while on
the trails I noticed I was running funny. My form was really messed up as I was
trying to compensate for the pain in my back and hips. This only made things
worse and I had to slow down. I took a week off. This was killer! I engaged
only in yoga and walking. And the following week I stepped my routine up just a
little bit of running, more yoga, and swimming. I feel better physically, but
emotionally I turn into a spaz when I can't run or ride.
My yoga routines have been very specific to my injury and it has made a big
difference. However, the missing piece in strength training. It is not a big
deal to me to go out and run double digit miles, bike in excess of 50 miles, or
swim over a mile. If it sounds like I'm bragging I'm not, I promise because I
cannot engage in the kind of exercise without the strength and flexibility to
back it up. Sometimes what you CAN do and and what you SHOULD do are much
different. The flexibility piece is easy for me to work with because I love
yoga. I teach and I practice regularly. I have been trained to teach yoga for
athletes, power yoga, and yin yoga. It has made a huge difference in my
endurance training. Strength training though.... YUCK. I suck at it. I am
tall and skinny and I have to work for every bit of strength I have. I don't
want to go to a gym. I don't want to do this... insert temper tantrum here!
I'm going back to square one, and starting over. I am building a base. This
base will have strength as a large part of it, and I know that the strength
combined with yoga specific for athletes will allow me to be strong enough for
my running, cycling and swimming.
I am committed to doing things differently. I will let you know how the
whole strength thing works out. I am not enthusiastic about it, but I'm
committed. Sometimes you have to just suck it up. It is what I have to do today
to race effectively in 2012.
Enjoy the weekend!