Sunday, October 17, 2010

11 Miles! Yay!

Saturday morning, October 16 at 7:30am, I finally decided to leave my nine-mile plateau I told you about a few weeks back. I would have tried earlier if wearing high-heeled shoes at a conference two-weeks ago hadn’t screwed with my ankle and calf muscles leaving me in pain whenever I made a running movement.

The night before my plateau-breaking run, I made sure to drink enough fluids and I felt very prepared for the following morning. In good spirits I woke up, jumped into my running outfit, and drove to my starting point. During the drive I noticed I was nervous. This run was going to be a big deal for me!

I parked my car in a local parking lot and texted my hubby an OK-it’s-going-to-happen message. Then I took off.

I told myself to start slowly (my muscles still in need of extra warm-up time after my high-heel incident) and to really enjoy the run. It didn’t take long for me to notice that my breathing was very tight from nervous anticipation. I decided this was one of those do-it-instead-of-dialoguing moments. I told myself to continue on at an easy pace and not to stop for any mental reasons. At the same time, I decided to grab my fear by the horns and use some shortcuts to get me to a place of comfort and peace comfort as I ran.

I asked myself the following questions while running along...

Why do I run?
In my mind, I went to an earlier moment this week, where I wrote a personal piece about promises made, and how that is not a motivator for me. I am not running because I have promised to run a half-marathon in November. I am not running because I would look a certain way if I were not keep my promise. I run because I want too. It’s as simple as that. This insight led to the next question.

Why do I want to run?
I don’t run any longer because I want to prove to myself (or anyone else) that I can transform something I hated all my life into something fun. I believe I proved that over the summer. All my running comes now from a place of enjoyment; this has changed me in profound ways. I started biking for my enjoyment, pumping some weights, and being more deliberate with my diet. I didn’t start these activities to prove anything; I started them because they make me feel better. Running makes me feel strong and translates into more energy and enthusiasm for anything on my path. Running also makes me feel connected with nature in ways I do not experience often during my resting days.

As I ran along thinking, the view to the right of me broke open and I saw wonderful mountains standing tall behind the yellow grain fields. What a gift!

I was about two miles into my run and still not feeling totally at ease. The shortcut questions had helped me relax, but there was still some tension in my body about breaking plateaus. Eleven miles ain't nothin to sneeze at you know! Someone who runs eleven miles has broken his or her plateaus many times. So why do I want to do that?

Why do I want to break plateaus and get better and better at running? Why is three miles, or five miles, or eight miles not enough?
Because I believe there is growth potential. I am not done. I am enjoying this too much to be done! The time will come that I will settle for something more solid and clear that works for me, but I am in the experimenting stage and I have no idea what will work for me long term. It could be half marathons, it could be full marathons, or maybe I would even get to the place of doing an Iron Man Triathlons (inspired by a young passenger on my plane home who had trained for 2.5 years and finished an Iron Man the week before).

So seeing that I really want to expand beyond my boundaries, how do I get there?
If you had seen me running when I got to this part in my personal conversation you would have noticed a little of smile on my face, because when I think about expanding beyond my comfort zone, I always think about my two littlest friends. I have been working with them in their playrooms for a couple of years and we've built relationships based on love and trust. Their growth comes from constantly expanding their comfort zones. They work so hard for anything they do; running eleven miles is an easy task in comparison.

I ask the boys to spend two intense hours with me while I challenge the hell out of them, and they go and go and go... And then, when I go home, other people come and have them do another intense workout. If they can do that, I clearly should be able to conquer this plateau...!

Three miles into my run I feet strong and motivated. All the stress has disappeared from my body and I run the next eight miles as easy as could be.

Yay, I did it!
I finished the run in two hours which is perfectly aligned with my estimated time of two-and-a-half hours for a half marathon. My legs felt extra tired and I was physically slow all day, but my spirits were higher then ever (all day). I even fantasized about longer distances to run after my half marathon, something that I had put on a back burner for a while.

I feel really good!

Happy Sunday,

PS: Sree, I hope this example explains better my ideas of the difference between a “doing thing” and a “dialoguing thing”. If I would have stopped at the beginning of the run because I was so uptight, I might never have run the complete distance and instead built up my fears of running longer distances. By deciding to do it anyway, I gave myself the space to explore using shortcuts and without going into judgments or fears. I easily found my way through the activity as part of the activity.


  1. GREAT, FANTASTIC, WELL DONE... how about aiming for "The Chapmans peak" in 3 yrs? I love that you did it - but I also love the comparison to your littlest friends.

  2. Very very cool, Iris. I love the way you explained your thought process and how you worked through your issues as you ran. It seems like there was an element of ease throughout, even when you observed the nervousness and stress early on. Very good example for all of us as we work through our own plateaus.

  3. Joy: The Chapmans peak? I had to google it. South Africa, that's very impressive. I probably need three years to prepare properly for that! Are you coming with me? XXX

    Faith: thanks for cheering me on!

    Sree: Yes, there was a comfort in my discomfort (probably fed by the belief that I could work it out while continuing my run). I feel this experience got me ready for the half marathon...

  4. Well, if I can loose 5 kilo before christmas then I believe that I could do chapmans peak in 3 yrs. - and I would have time to get the money to make a long holiday...

    So I'll give you an answer before new years eve.


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