Kindness to self – Rediscovering the Lost Body-Connection within Christian Spirituality Number4

How do you treat yourself? What kind of self talk to you engage in?
What about when you are anxious? Or stressed? Or when you’ve made a mistake?

Negative self-talk is not without consequences. We actually have the power to cause self-harm through the words we say (or think).When talking about this with other, I sometimes suggest that we think about our self-talk with a lens of “would I say that to another person?” Sometimes, most times, the answer is a resounding “NO!” But still, the temptation to do this can be great, especially if you heard such negative talk directed to you as a child.

For me personally, it comes to body image. Through the years I’ve reflected on my past and am now in the process of writing my story. Part of the story includes a very negative body image. The root of this is in being told from the time I was in 6th grade that I am fat. I was even put on diets by older siblings. I remember once being so hungry that I stole an apple and quickly ate it while standing behind the house. Can you imagine thinking that an apple is “bad” to eat? But when I look at photos taken when I was a child, I was not fat! (Unfortunately I can’t find any of those photos this week)

After a lifetime of struggle with healthy eating, I have been fat…and I have been thin. Until recently I never maintained a weight, instead always moving up or down (mostly up). I have now been at the same healthy weight (±5 pounds) for the past 2 years. That is a record for me.

And yet, I will still, on occasion, look down at my stomach with derision and say, “I’m so fat!” Maybe this is why the following paragraph hit me:

“If you cannot be kind, caring and supportive inside yourself, then how can you possibly presume that this capacity will magically appear in your dealings with others and the world around you? How our body carries the feelings we have about ourselves is the primary factor influencing all our relationships.” (page 41)

Those are tough words. Thankfully they are tempered by grace. The grace that God gives to each of us as a genuinely free gift. Grace that helps us to know we are valuable and worthy of love – no matter what our bodies look like. Christian spirituality, Christian prayer are rooted in this grace and in the command of Jesus to love. To truly love others we must first learn to love ourselves.

For me, becoming an endurance athlete has taught me to love this wonderful body…just as it is. Loving it means taking care of it with rest and nourishing food and exercise and prayer. It’s all related.

How have you learned to be kind to yourself?

Last One – Ray Miller Training Run #7

Family photo…Nick was commenting on our colorful clothes, we were certainly bright.

Black Friday…I almost never shop on Black Friday. In fact the only time I did was when my husband and I went to Santa Barbara for the day (to escape the malls) and discovered we were strolling by a bunch of stores that were empty of crowds.

Usually we just find something relaxing to do. This year, I did my final training run in preparation for the Ray Miller 50K that will be December 2nd.

Megan and I started at 7:00am with a goal of running 16 miles, and hitting Hell Hill one more time. My sister-in-law and nephew joined us for the very beginning, but they were hiking so we weren’t together too long.

This is a beautiful part of the trail…just before Hell Hill

This was a great run. My average pace per mile was 40 seconds faster than my previous training runs and I felt better than I’ve felt in a long time. When we were done, I felt like I could keep going. It is definitely a confidence booster!

The work is done and now I just have to do the race. My goal is to finish. A second goal is to finish in less than 8 hours, but I’ll be happy to finish.

One fun story. A little over two years ago, while I was training for my second marathon I encountered a man who was riding his bike. It was a beach cruiser kind of bike and he came alongside me while I was running up a small hill. I was on mile 6 of a 10 mile run. As he passed, he asked, “trying to muster up some self discipline?” I responded, “I have it!” But I was pissed! Obviously, as I still remember this rude encounter (funny how we remember these things). I had already lost a lot of weight, but still weighed more than I do now. Regardless of my weight or how I looked while running, that comment was rude and completely uncalled for.

You might be asking yourself, “what is fun about that story?” and “what does it have to do with a Ray Miller training run?”

After walking up Hell Hill and making my way back toward the original trailhead, I realized I was going to need another couple miles. So I passed the trail and ran down a fire trail for about a mile. Then I had to turn around and run back up the trail. By this time it was hot and it was a climb, but I was feeling great. Just as I was completing mile 13 a man on a bike passed me. He too commented as he passed, saying, “Wow, you are hard to catch up to! Good job.”

And that ends this series on training for Ray Miller. I will do a race recap.

O My! – Ray Miller Training Run #4

Sunrise on PCH is always pretty

Today was interesting! My assignment was to run 14 miles on slightly tired legs (I ran 10 the day before). To become familiar with the course, we’ve been running various parts of what will be the Ray Miller 50k on December 2nd. I had thought we could run the final loop in a 15 mile run, but it turns out I was not reading the course description carefully.

So after 6.5 miles, Megan (my daughter) and I were figuring out where to go when she noticed my error. “If we do the full loop we’ll be running about 27 miles.” Oops. We made some adjustments and ended up running a middle portion and then the very end portion. Unfortunately our adjustments resulted in 16.3 miles…a bit longer than the 14 miles I was supposed to run.

Nice bright moon giving way to the early morning sun.

The morning was beautiful and the temperature was 59° at the start. As we climbed we felt pockets of cool air… then warm air…then cool again. I said, “eventually those pockets of cool air will disappear.” They did as soon as the sun came over the mountains. It was hot, even at 7:30am.

I’m thankfully becoming comfortable familiar with the beginning of the course. Once we made it to “Hell Hill,” the location of an aid station on race day, we had to figure out the next steps. The trail we were supposed to run down had a different name. We retraced our steps and concluded that this was the correct trail… and off we went. Down. Down. Down. My downhill running is pretty slow lately as I’m being extra careful to avoid falling again. I think as I regain confidence I’ll do pretty well on this part of the course.

Some early October flowers… a surprise in dry CA

When we got to the bottom, we were in Sycamore Canyon and it was refreshingly cold here. We ran to Danielson Ranch, took a photo of the map and then turned toward the ocean. With this turn we were no longer on the course. We were also running on a very easy, gradual downhill dirt fire road. I love dirt fire roads! We were even treated to some beautiful flowers!

We had this break until we arrived at what will be the last climb on 50k day… the Fireline Trail. 1.3 miles up. I hated this trail. It was narrow and overgrown and thus I was afraid of what I might encounter while trudging through the bushes. It was steep and once we left the canyon floor it was blazingly hot! I could feel the sun baking my back and was glad that I had caked on the sunscreen.

Know why there are no bikes here? Probably because they’d fall off the mountain!

When I reached the top Megan was chatting, and borrowing sunscreen, from a group of women. She told me that she ran out of water…so like a nice mom I gave her some of mine. Good thing we were getting close to the end. But! Getting to the top of the Wireline Trail did not mean we were done climbing, so we trudged up the Overlook Fire Road and eventually settled into an easy jog.

Once we hit Ray Miller…the last downhill, I offered Megan some more water and then told her I’d see her at the bottom. She flew down the trail. I easy jogged, not wanting to stumble and fall with my tired legs. When I had about a mile and a half to go I tried to clear my nose by inhaling…dumb idea. I know that you’re not supposed to do this, but I did it and immediately got dizzy. Great! After a pause my equilebrium corrected and I was fine.

I finished in 16.3 miles in 4:02:11 which was a nice slow average pace of 14:51.

Amazingly I felt pretty good the next day. That’s fitness! Next up is the Ventura Marathon in a couple weeks.



Transformed Living – Gratitude 8/25

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1

This endurance stuff is sometimes painful!

The above quotation sounds nice to my ears as I read it, at first. I say “at first” because there is a whole lot of potential conflict packed into these two sentences.

First, what does it mean to present our bodies as living sacrifices? Do we take care of our bodies? I think this is important and as an endurance athlete I could extoll the spiritual benefits of hours and miles out on the roads and trails. I would love for this text to be pointing us in this direction. But I’m afraid I would be reading my own desires into the text…a danger for every preacher.

Contextually, I’m convinced this text is part of Paul’s (the author) instructing his audience, and us on how to live as people of faith. The “therefore” bridges us to the earlier arguments against anti-Semitism. So to present our bodies as living sacrifices (as did Jesus) means to live the sometimes difficult life in defense of and love for neighbor. In this case, Jewish neighbors.

Second, what about non-conforming to the world? This sentence is so ripe for misuse. We could say we are not conforming to the world when we choose to persist in our stubbornness (whatever that may be).

As I think about this I am mindful of our problems with racism. Seeking to understand the privilege that is “white culture” is an example of what Paul is getting at. The easy thing is to ignore the issue, choosing to “just be nice” to everyone. I think that as we do this we somehow numb ourselves to the real challenges that are before us. Seeking to do what is good, acceptable, and perfect in God’s view is, I believe, to embark on that difficult journey.

This takes me back to endurance sports. Transformation from an overweight walker to a Boston qualifying marathoner came through the persistence, pain, and sometimes suffering of running long distances. Through this experience I know I can withstand anything. I also know that lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. While we may want to see quick results, we learn through endurance training that transformation comes, but only through patience and persistence.

Today I am personally thankful for: my pianist friend who used my running to reminded me yesterday that transforming doesn’t happen overnight; coaches and exercise instructors; the continued love of God.


Gratitude 2/3

Yesterday I woke up with my body feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep but, emotionally and spiritually, I was exhausted. That made for a hard day in which I could feel the stress. As the day progressed I felt better and better. Looking back I think that having people to talk to helped. I also recognized that one of my roles in this age of protest, is to help others who are feeling exhausted…by providing a listening ear, encouraging and modeling good self care, praying, and more…I’m still figuring this out.

Today I’m personally thankful for: meeting (and having the opportunity to share my struggles) with colleagues yesterday, the dedication of our El Centrito board members, last night’s gentle rain.

Recovery is training 

Today is 4 days post marathon and I’ll go out as soon as the sun rises for a 2 mile run. I can’t remember the last time I went on a 2 mile run. If I were making my own schedule I’d probably go 4… and go too far next week… and then hurt myself. I know this because I’ve done this. I’ve learned that one of the most beneficial aspects of working with a coach is to not do too much. Recovery is that important first step in preparing for marathon number 6!

Today I am personally thankful for: good coaching; getting back to work today after a restful vacation (yes, one can run a marathon and still experience a vacation as restful); chicken soup…it’s what’s for dinner tonight.

Failed Lately? Maybe it’s not what you think…another recap

My last two posts title “Failed Lately…” can be found here Failed Lately? Maybe you just needed the right stuff and here Failed Lately? Maybe something is wrong.

For the past two weeks I’ve been thinking about the diagnoses of pneumonia that I received after having a breathing-while-swimming problem on August 25th. The diagnoses didn’t make sense to me because it would mean that I’ve been sick all summer and my successful marathon training contradicts this.

I appreciated the doctor saying, “sometimes shit happens” and we don’t always know what it is. This particular pile of crap has helped to up my own personal fear level for this Sunday’s marathon. That was, until this morning, when I ran across an article that mentioned a sometimes deadly condition for triathletes that is described as fluid in the lungs. Technically it is Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema.

Of course I then did a search of this term and found someone’s personal account that described my symptoms exactly.

I know that diagnosing oneself off the internet isn’t the wisest thing, but this makes so much more sense than pneumonia. I will send the articles to my doctor to get her opinion.

Meanwhile the good news is that I can approach Sunday’s Ventura Marathon without fear that the lingering effects of pneumonia will harm me.

The not so good news is that the thought of swimming again is a bit scary. But I now know the symptoms in my own body and can be better prepared.

I would love to hear from others who’ve experienced this.