Being my own therapy

This week has been somewhat bittersweet with the memories of my engagement and the reality of my beloved’s death. Still, my determination to train for next month’s marathon combined with my resolve to give my best efforts to my theological studies have kept me on a disciplined path. My running is my time to meditate and pray; simply, my mind goes in a thousand directions with every step. Memories, random thoughts and streams of thinking about problems to be solved, fill my mind with every step along my routes.

One of my routes takes me along a lake shore; water color changing with every trip. On some days, the water is deep blue, on others, the water takes on a pale gray shade to match my hair. Even the waves allow me to speculate on what lies just beneath the surface of my therapeutic body of water. The lake is such a gift to this runner as it changes with every experience. The lake keeps me going like a constant infusion of electricity for my spirit. It’s a true treasure for me in every season.

As I run along, the thoughts of whether or not I can complete the 26.2 miles of a marathon creep into my brain. I know that my body settles into a cruising mode where I just take each step as it comes without thinking about how I feel. My knees and ankles feel fine but on occasion, I feel little pains in the muscles of my medial upper thigh. Perhaps, I need to work on keeping those muscles relaxed and stretched but these little twinges now and again are the only bothersome physical changes that I have noted with my increases in distance.

I also have begun to feel the mental challenge of increasing my distances. I have been a middle-distance runner for much of my life, running 10K at university on the off season of my collegiate tennis career. My middle distance became my friend and therapy for much of my university experience. On most running days, even during races, I could solve problems and enjoy the scenery as it moved by. Even during graduate school, I carried the multi- kilometer experience into my lab and classroom; relief of stress and smoothing out of my impulsive temperament.  I wish I had done the same for medical school but alas, that weight stayed with me for years.

Today, I am thinning out and beginning to resemble a bit of a distance runner. I certainly don’t have the amazingly thin body of one of my friends who was a world-class marathoner. I have noted that I no longer have the mesomorphic shape that was my characteristic on the tennis courts as my  regular distances hover near the 10-mile marks, my long slow distances ever increasing to the 20-mile mark. I often imagine myself dashing along the road in the marathon race only have a bit of a panic that I will “hit the wall” and not be able to recover enough to complete the distance. Yes, the mental challenges are with me but my mind changes along with my body.

Finally, I caught a glimpse of myself in a wall mirror just yesterday. I almost didn’t recognize myself at this size. I am now at the lightest weight of my adult life (about 10 pounds lighter than my tennis weight). I am striving to take off about 30 additional pounds which will place me in a slightly underweight category. As long as I am able to stay healthy, I am fine with being on the thinner side. As long as my mind continues to toughen up, my body will follow.

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