Finding Solace in the Pain

Happy Thursday to everyone. Who’s ready for spring tomorrow!??! Oh my gosh – dust off the athletic clothing – it’s time to crush it outdoors! YESSSSSS!

I just cleaned house on a brutal treadmill workout – and let’s be clear – I HATE running on the treadmill… but in my gasping, after workout state I realized how freaking great I feel! I don’t know that I put as much stock in a “runner’s high” as some people, just because I much prefer a swim or cycle dash, but man I felt great. It’s so nice letting the stress flow out of your pores along with the sweat, body heat, and other chemical ooze. Granted, the sweat was pooling in my eyes and my legs were covered in a slimy layer but I felt energized as well as exhausted. Perfect excuse to chow down on a huge lunch. And I love lunch!

Painful things in life are what gives us our juice, our will to live, our drive. Go plow a 50 mile bike ride, a 10 mile run or a 90 minute swim session and let me know if you don’t feel like you could just take the world head on. I’ve been to the brink of my sanity and my endurance. It’s not so much that it feels like “the end” but rather it’s just a very puzzling experience where your body says no and your mind says yes because it knows how disappointed you will be in yourself. I still remember the last 13 miles of IM Coeur d’Alene… pff, even the last 4 miles. It’s all a big fuzz really – scorched legs that don’t feel like walking, let alone running. I don’t remember the battle being physical, except for the dull pains shooting through legs that were drained of life hours before. Instead, it was a constant conversation with myself. I value alone time but that was wayyyyy too much time listening to my thoughts! The conversation/emotional aspect was far more exhausting in my opinion than stumbling along mile after mile. Only until I reached mile 25 did everything come into a laser focus and I realized where I was and that I only had 8 minutes left in a very long day.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. Tons, really. They can’t be counted. I have, however, learned from each of them. Perhaps the most personal racing mistake was blowing out on the run at Coeur d’Alene. Feeling “great” after 112 mile bike ride meant I ran a 1:45 half marathon only to blow a gasket at mile 14 and not recover until mile 20. Sure, I was new at ultra-long distance racing and it was my first time, but still… don’t be an idiot! *head smack*

ironman3

We’ve all experienced unpleasant events: painful ones, uncomfortable ones, brutally awfully ones. The ones that make your insides creak and groan, and that cause you to beg for it to be nighttime so you can flee the days’ torments. Some pains leave scar tissues, broken hearts, or tear stained faces; others leave you crushed, callused, and broken. However, all pains provide us with growth. Like the sun shining on freshly planted crops, pain is the catalyst for us springing forward into new and wonderful things, sometimes we just need to pass through the briar patch to get there. The truly disastrous can turn into the amazingly wonderful – we just need to embrace our situation for what it is, and find our own coping mechanisms for surviving. It can’t always be Friday and we can’t always have a phenomenal day. But that doesn’t mean we just sit idly by waiting. Moments and opportunities are meant to be seized, just like REI’s 75% off garage sale! You never know what you’ll find :D

For me, there is too much going on causing negative stress, and I don’t have a choice but to seek coping mechanisms outside myself. For me, I will keep embracing the painful treadmill workouts, the 5 hour bike rides, and the swim sessions that leave my lungs and capillaries screaming for more oxygen. For me, I’m looking forward to my next workout and the great meal to follow. For me, I find quiet, comfort, and strength in the pain.

O, [IRONMAN] Canada… how I long to meet you on the field of battle!  A warrior poet cut from the granite of my own failures with no one to share the blame – but none share the successes either. For me… that is my coping.

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