An Update on Chilling Out

So far Operation “Chill the Eff Out” is going well.

Thursday night I went for my first “I’m not stressing out” run.  John asked how far I was going, and I responded, “I dunno, maybe 8?” I ran 9 miles and maintained marathon pace on most of the miles (minus a few with hills), which was a big win for me.  It was not an effortless run — my legs felt tight and my body was achy, but I tried not to stress about it.

Thursday was a pretty crappy day, and I’m starting to get frustrated with house hunting and worried I’m not where I “should” be in life. I didn’t think about my frustrations for most of the run and mostly focused on whatever pop song was blasting in my ears. But as I was running up Dexter to get home, I suddenly got really angry.

I’m sure this is exactly how I looked.

If I were a more dramatic person, I would have thrown dishes on the ground and kicked something. But since I a) didn’t have any dishes available; and b) even if I did, I wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of cleaning up my mess, I charged up the hill and let myself cry. Thankfully you can’t cry a whole lot while running up a hill, but I let out frustration I’ve been holding in for the last few weeks.

While it wasn’t a great run, it helped me cope with my frustrations and issues in a healthy way. The cliché “running is cheaper than therapy” is cheesy but true. If you’re feeling angry, sad, frustrated, worried or stressed, just run it out.  Even a terrible run will make you feel better; endorphins are miracle workers.

Another way to cope with disappointment and frustration? Retail therapy! I bought these lovely pink shoes on Friday when I was picking up my race packet for the Seattle Marathon 10k. I’ll recap the race later, but spoiler alert: it was horrible! My legs have never felt so heavy and tired during a race, but I had a good attitude and didn’t panic about my less than stellar performance.

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4 thoughts on “An Update on Chilling Out

  1. You are so descriptive!! I recognize that little girl. I’ve seen her in the mirror many times!!! I thoroughly enjoy reading your running diary! Very cute shoes, by the way—they look fast!!!

    House hunting just is REALLY stressful even under the best of circumstances. I used to get so frustrated and impatient when I’d have my mind set on something and just wanted to get on with it, get it settled with all the details in place and move on. I’ve slowly been learning, as with so many other things in life, to let go and try to go with the flow, trusting that it will all fall into place at the right time and in the best way. When I keep my heart and mind open usually things do work out.

    You and John will end up with whatever is right for the two of you, I’m sure!!!

  2. Megan:
    At the YMCA there is a bulletin board where an employee named Tammy (who happens to be a long-distance runner) posts words of encouragement and inspiration. This was today’s message:

    Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.

    What is it that you need to know? All the frustration, the stress, the doubts, the anger, the disappointments and the disillusionment, the aches and pains, the runs that feel SO SLOW …your body and your life is speaking to you in the only language it has. What is it that you need to know so that all the needless suffering will leave you alone and let you run wild and free and fast?
    I don’t mean to sound condescending or simplistic. I haven’t conquered any of this. I too wrestle with the meaning of all this. I question my ability to actualize my own dreams. I ask myself if all this worth it. I spent all day Sunday doing absolutely nothing. I was sad and I let myself be sad. I almost took a perverse pleasure in it. My whole body and soul seemed to be saying: We’re tired, goddamn it. So I stayed in my sweat pants and watched movies and sports and ate potato chips. It was ridiculous, decadent, absurd, slovenly. But evidently it was what I needed because come Monday morning, I found myself getting my GARMIN out, I found myself lacing up my running shoes, I found myself filling up my water bottles and stuffing my pockets with GUs, and as I pushed START on my GARMIN I told myself: “I’ll walk if I need to. I don’t have to run faster than I feel like running. Let’s just run and see what happens.” Well, I got eighteen miles in. And even though I had to run/walk the last few miles, I felt as if I had achieved something HUGE. And I had.
    I’m a slow learner. I’ve had to learn this lesson over and over again. It’s always the same; yet each time the doubt and despair and lack of confidence and all the disguises of the dark passenger–well, it never ceases to surprise me with its urgency and overwhelming power. And once again, if I just let go of the fear and insecurity, if I just open the door to the outside world, if I just offer myself to that great big mysterious world (even if I don’t feel as if I have anything valuable to offer), my fragile faith is strengthened the same way any muscle is strengthened, and I am once again made whole in the felt certainty that there is a power and a purpose to my life.
    As marathon runners, as dreamers of a more expansive and expressive life, we are susceptible to these emotional rogue waves. We are lucky even if it sometimes doesn’t feel so lucky. William Blake once said:

    The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

    As a man in recovery from many afflictions, as a marathon runner, I know those words are true. Our adventurous path is one of extremes. Why would any sane woman or man want to run 26.2 miles? We know the answer to that question. And we keep running and loving extravagantly so that we can ask even deeper questions that can only be answered in the silent uncertainties of the long run.
    You are right where you are supposed to be, Megan.
    I love you and respect your soaring spirit.

    Not-so-speedy Dad

  3. P.S.

    The new shoes are surely sweet. They made me smile. And if they make you smile when you put them on, they are worth every penny you paid for them! Sometimes our “problems” are not as complicated as we make them. Sometimes all we need is a day in front of the television, time to rest and relax, potato chips, maybe some ice cream and bread pudding; sometimes it’s a new pair of shoes. And sometimes, as you so insightfully say in your blog, we need to “just run it out.” That has worked miracles for me many, many times. You are on the path to “the palace of wisdom.” I salute your efforts.

    Your Biggest Fan,
    Dad

  4. P.P.S.

    I enjoyed and appreciated our conversation late last night. For what it is worth (you are an experienced marathon runner and a human being with more than enough intelligence to follow your very own intuitions, and you don’t need anyone’s approval), I think your plan for this week-end is ambitious but perfectly appropriate. A 20-miler on Saturday, no matter how fast or how slow, will be a good positive step toward feeling prepared for Portland. And then Monday’s Half marathon can be treated as a training run. Training plans can be helpful. Advice from others can also be helpful. But this is your life. You are the one doing the runs. One day at a time, through PRs and PWs, keep trusting yourself, keep believing in yourself, keep allowing for “the possibility of limitless expansion.’

    Thank you for sharing your ups and downs with me. You inspire me!

    Dad

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