Five weeks ago I sat in my living room with my love, talking about our relationship. We had just barely made it to the year mark, kicking and screaming. The week of my birthday; for many it’s called a Birthday Week and I was sitting in my living room breaking up with my love. We had both come to the realization, almost at the same time, that it was not working anymore, that he needed something I
couldn’t wouldn’t give him.
Space. Distance. Time. Freedom. He wanted the chance to settle into his new single-dad, living-life-on-his-own-for-the-first-time-ever self. I was willing to let him do those things, but not at the cost of myself and my own needs.
Not at the cost of who I am.
I want a life partner who’s in it to win it, both feet planted firm next to me. I want a partner in crime, a friend for life. I want to be someone’s Number One. I want to be significant.
I run to feel alive and meditate. I run because I can when so many others can’t, trails specifically. For me, running trails is a close extension of the brain’s natural sensory flow. My whole body takes in my surroundings as I run through the woods. The sights: leaves on the trees, rocks, roots, dusty or muddy, seasonal changes, sometimes other runners, the views from the summit. The sounds: birds, feet hitting, breathing, partner’s breathing, cars, streams, the river, echos. The feel: falling, zen, peace, happy, bliss, exhaustive. But most important, I feel most strong, confident and badass when I traverse the trails.
When standing on top of a mountain and looking out at everything below, above and across from you, the feeling is humble. That you are but a speck of dust in all that grandiosity; no more outstanding than the boulder on which you sit. A fleck on the landscape, you feel the value of nature, its gravity, and how you can’t control it anymore than it can control you.
You feel the trust and faith in the Universe goes both ways, she needs you as much as you need her.
Running has opened my life to experiences I never thought possible, that I never thought conceivable. Running has given me the confidence to be who I am without apology. Running marathons has helped me soften my once rough edges and taught me, like relationships, I get out of it exactly what I put into it. In a good way, running and the community it surrounds has helped me feel like a small part of the big picture.
Four weeks ago I bruised my foot on a trail run. I was only 2 miles in and I still needed to get back to my car so like any stubborn runner, I kept going. I smacked my foot in the same exact spot, the “frog”, at least two more times. I remember stopping at one point, giving myself a chance to feel the hurt. And yet still I kept going.
The following day I had 16 miles to run. I felt the swelling in my foot, quite prominent as I walked around the house on the hardwood floors. I heard a voice that said, “You can’t run 16 miles on this foot, but maybe you can run six. Hey, how about 8?” So, I listened to my irrational stubborn self instead of the responsible self. At mile four my foot was hurting too bad, Chevy and I walked three miles home. My 2nd and 3rd toe spasmed the whole time. The “frog” felt like there was a lump lodged under my skin.
Running the week after my love and I agreed to go our separate ways was my release/relief from the grief and anxiety and anger. The trails were my reprieve, they were again helping me put my thoughts together. In those first few days, running helped me work through the myriad feelings threatening to drown me, holding me under for too long. I ran a lot, sometimes twice a day, in that first week.
Running has taught me to feel. Running has taught me to be.
Running has taught me to live.
Being in nature during my most painful life moments helps me remember the Universe is in control; I am but a grain of sand, a single leaf on a tree, a new inchworm swinging on faith.
While I haven’t been able to run in nature, I have been cycling and hiking in nature. I feel stifled in the pool, spending hours inside jogging in circles so I balance it with riding to and from the gym and work then riding long on the weekends. While riding around the city and countryside, I still get to be in nature, to feel the sunlight on my skin and the wind in my face.
Nature helps me remember the Universe knows what it’s doing, even if I don’t. Nature encourages me to leave heartbreak in the hands of the Universe, to let go of my love, to come back to myself. Like the bruise on my foot, I stopped for a while to feel the hurt, and then I kept going. Maybe he’ll find me again if/when he’s ready, but that’s not for me to decide.