Friday, October 8, 2010

Allowing the possibility of failure, but also the possibility of success . . .

It started out as an experiment. I wanted to jog, just a little. Part of me was afraid, because I had just a tiny glitch in my heart valve, or something or other, that my heart rate would race up very quickly and I’d be dizzy and nauseated. It’s a scary thing, glitches of the heart are. For one wonders if suddenly the heart will race out of control and then freeze up and the keeling over dead would occur and that would suck—my doc reassured me I wouldn’t die, but could pass out. Okay, I thought, I can deal with passing out as long as I won’t die. Good. Yeah. Okay.

But, the idea of running any distance or at any but a slow plodding pace seemed far-fetched for me. Still. I wanted to try it. I’d watch others at the gym or at Lake Junaluska jogging/running and they looked so . . . I don’t know . . . intense but satisfied? Happy? Healthy? Successful in their goals? Wait, I know: as if they belonged to a special club. I wanted to be in the club.

In April of this year, I began. It started at Lake J, where I’d go in one direction and GMR in another and we’d meet in the middle. Little Maggie Lou and I would jog a little, walk a little, jog, walk, jog-walk. My feet barely left the pavement. Even so, when I’d pass another runner, I’d feel a little thrill as I waved at them. They'd sprint past, but I'd not let myself feel as if I were somehow "not enough." No. I'd keep running my little pace, plod plod plod.

Even still, it seemed my heart and lungs weren’t going to be cooperative. I’d meet GMR and have to walk until the weird light-headed feeling faded. The first time I was able to jog without walking most all the way to meet GMR halfway, I was euphoric! I did it! But, I told myself, that’s only maybe a mile. And I was going pretty slowly. And . . . well . . .I wanted to see what else I was capable of. I could feel tiny changes inside of me, like knitting.

The next time I was at the gym, I stepped onto the treadmill, punched in 3.5 and did this little light jog where my feet came up about a milli-meter from the treadmill. I set a goal of twenty minutes of straight jogging. The next time I pushed it up to 3.8 and tried to go longer. Soon the dizzy weird light-head feeling came and I had to slow up, then walk. Twice a week, I went to that treadmill and set tiny little goals: I’ll go a mile without stopping. I’ll speed up for a minute and then I’ll slow down. I’ll go a little longer. I’ll go a little faster. One mile turned to two. 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8. Two miles turned to two and a half, then three, then four, then five. Two days a week turned to three days a week and 3.8 turned into 4.0, 4.5, 5.0 . . . then I tried sprints—5.5, 5.6, even yesterday 6.0 (though I couldn’t sustain that for long—yet).


Sometimes my back pain hits me hard. Sometimes I push myself too much and the old light-headed weird feeling comes on. Sometimes I’m tired and can’t do as much as I’d like. Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing all this when I could be working, or goofing off. Sometimes I look at other runners and wish I were doing what they were. Sometimes I wish I’d have started this a long time ago. Sometimes I think for all the hard work I’m doing my body should respond in ways it may not respond because I am a 53 year old woman and not a 33 year old woman.

But, I am seeing many changes in my mind and body. Progress.

I keep running. One step, two, three, four. From April until now I’ve learned things about my body and myself. I’ve grown as a runner. I’ve learned to focus on what I’m doing and to enjoy the process instead of letting my mind wander all over creation or looking way ahead to where I could be or maybe be or if I was here there or yonder or etc etc etc. I’ve learned what my weaknesses are and my strengths and what weaknesses I can make stonger or what I have to accept, and what strengths I can rely on and experiment with. I’ve learned what to accept as “it’s just how it is so get over it,” and what I can change--or at the very least that trying is better than sitting around wishing. No one gets anywhere by sitting around WISHING . . . you eventually just have to take a step, then the next, then . . . the rest.

If in April anyone would have told me that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I’d have said: “Me? I can’t do that! My heart won’t let me. I have this problem, you see, where my heart rate rushes too high and I could pass out. Nope, not me. I wish, but, nah, not going to happen. Oh well. Dang. Guess I'll just WISH.”

If I had not tried. If I had not just Done It. If I had not pushed myself just a little and a lot. If I had not practiced practiced practiced. If I had not allowed myself the possibility of failure, but also the possibility of success. Then I would never know how great it feels to run. How my body has responded. How I feel as if I am a member of some club I never had access to before.

Now—take everything I just wrote about running and apply that to writing.

Enjoy your weekend!

(PS - for some reason I can't upload photos any longer in blogger - bummer! - I haven't said "bummer" in years - huhn, wonder were that came from *laugh* anyone else having that problem with photos?)

19 comments:

Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) said...

I love this story, and I must confess that as I read it, I was thinking *exactly* what you intended — about the parallels to writing. It can only happen by stepping out in faith, even in the tiniest, babiest of chickenscratches. But lo what those chickenscratches have done to the world when they've come through the pen of some people.

Sandra Leigh said...

Great pep talk, Kathryn. It made my back hurt, just thinking about all that running, but I did appreciate the metaphor. I just registered for NaNoWriMo again -- my Equivalent to Running!

I'm about to send you an e-mail regarding your photo upload problem.

Sandra Leigh said...

p.s. "Bummer" ---- bum trip. Left over from the sixties.

Teresa said...

I love this post and yes, that's how I've often felt about my writing. Now I'm starting to sprint a little with my writing and it's causing some dizziness, but I'm going to keep going.

Next on my list of things to do is start exercising again. ;-)

Marguerite said...

Great metaphor and so true. But seriously, running isn't for everyone, and can harm the joints as well as the back, plus increase the risk for cardiac arrest. Yoga is much gentler and kinder. Have a great weekend, sha!

demery bader-saye said...

This is exactly what I needed to hear today! My hubby is coming home early to watch our boys (who are on fall break) so I can spend the whole afternoon writing. After more than a dozen rejections on the query letter I had to put it aside for a few weeks - it's time now to tweak it some more and SEND SEND SEND. No excuses.

Am I a weirdo? I say bummer about ten times a day. Oh well, if I am a weirdo, then that's a bummer.

Eryl said...

Well done you! You're right, too, we can apply this to anything we want to do: small steps, one at a time...

I'm a runner too, make sure you have very good running shoes to protect those joints. If I hadn't been a runner, and thus had a strong heart ,and lungs, and core muscles, I wouldn't have got through last year's illness and operation with anywhere near as much ease as I did. Keep it up.

I will, I will, I will send the poem I've been polishing up to the magazine I've been eyeing up, early next week. Thanks.

~JarieLyn~ said...

I love this story. I'm not a runner but I do force myself to walk every day.

Very well said about trying something instead of wishing it into existence.

I just posted my favorite quote on another blogger's comment section just before I came over here. I'll post it again because it applies to what you just wrote about.


"Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps if you are not willing to move your feet." ~ unknown

Titus said...

Brilliant post!
My hat off to you, and nearly, just nearly, my running shoes on...

john bord said...

Have you considered speed walking, it is easier on the knees. Running will beat up the knees whereas walking does not have the violent impact running does and walking provides a good cardio workout.
My knees are so beat up from the years of running I can no longer run but I can still get up and go for a good walk of a few miles.

Carolyn V. said...

How amazing that you have come so far! I run too, but struggle with going a long distance. Maybe a little at a time.

I totally agree with the writing, it needs to be worked on a little at a time, and it takes work. But it's well worth it in the end. =)

Karen said...

Oh, I needed that "sermon," Kathryn, about writing! Sometimes my picture-loader-upper won't work either. I call it in internet imp. But after a little while all is well. Have a great weekend.

NCmountainwoman said...

I'm sure you have already thought of it, but speed walking ("geek walking") might be a better option than running. Heart rate stays in range for good cardio workout and it's much kinder to your back and joints. Trekking poles (used PROPERLY) can add upper body workout as well. Check into it. And you do wear a heart rate monitor, right? Otherwise it's really hard to tell when you are in your target range.

Congratulations on your achievements.

Titus said...

Whoo Hoo! Ocean magazine arrived today!
Thanks for a great reason not to go for a run...

Deb Shucka said...

Way to go, Kat! I'm having a similar experience with yoga and could relate to every word here. And the connection to writing is perfect. Happy running!

lakeviewer said...

Go girl! Keep on track. We have to stretch ourselves every which way to stay alive, to keep flexible in all we do.

Analisa said...

That is great and you are getting there with each step you take. Reminds me of how what it's like in faith. Little by little day by day changes come and you look back and think I can't believe I did that.

Tipper said...

Congrats! We never know what we're capable of till we try : ) Your post makes me want to run too!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Y'all are making me smile - thinking about my health and bones and joints *grin* -- but, I am being careful - I wear things in my shoes to help cushion impact - plus, I walk 2 and 1/2 miles 5-6 days a week, and I run 3 days a week but only for up to 3 miles instead of five - then I do yoga stretches....

Since I'm in menopause, my knees aren't in as much danger (estrogen is lower at my age) ... but I have good strong bones- really strong. My back isn't happy, but it's never happy - that ole Bee-otch *laugh*

I thought -this can apply to more than writing - to so much in our lives!

y'all are the BEST!