Saturday, February 4, 2017

Three-mile run and a Giant turkey sandwich

Bald eagle on the trail.
Hard to see, but (s)he's there!

Three weeks ago, I ran one mile for the first time in an embarrassingly long time. It was short, and it was slow, but it happened. I went for a run. Over the past three weeks, I have run a few more times - still slowly, still not very far.

I first started running in highschool, when I was 15 or 16. I have never been fast, but I do consider myself a Runner. Running has been many things to me over the years: the enabler of my eating disorder in highschool; a way to lose weight and forget about my broken heart in college; proof of the resiliency of my body after cancer; and recently, a faster way to explore the trails and wild areas of my beloved Colorado. Also, and most importantly, it has always been my primary method of decompression. I turn to running in times of stress and distress, and it is perhaps the only thing I still rely on for my own health and happiness, as various other strategies and coping mechanisms have come and gone again.

I have had a number of running-breaks over the years, most notably during that whole cancer thing. But I slowly jogged my way back to health, and even went and limped through a marathon two years after finishing two years of cancer treatment. Somehow, I hobbled through another marathon, a year and a half later. So the last marathon I ran was in April, 2012. I have run a few more trail races since then, of which I am most proud of finishing the 2014 Imogene Pass Run.

In 2014, though, the strangest thing happened - I got a corporate desk job. I launched into a career with one of the biggest companies in Denver, blindly assuming that this is what I really wanted, what I was meant to do! Never mind that I left Boston, DC and Chicago to get away from high-stress, high-pressure companies and the individuals who value work as the end instead of as the means to an end. I have been at this job for almost three years, and I have begun to draw a few correlations between that job and my overall health and happiness. Let's just say that I believe my job has had a direct, negative impact on virtually every aspect of my Health.

But this post is about running. I'll save the story of the sad, stressed and sick Caroline for another day. Today, I ran straight through for 30 minutes. Well, to say I "ran" is incredibly generous. I felt like I was shuffling along a dirt trail, barely more than jogging. And yet, I was surrounded by prairie dogs, prairie hawks and a glorious bald eagle, and there were no other humans on the trail. For the past three weeks, I have had to come to terms with the fact that I am truly and unavoidably starting over. All of my Healths - mental, emotional, physical, etc. - have slowly been destroyed over the past three years. Perhaps not least of all, I have barely run in over a year. Finally, sadly, I have reached my rock bottom. The good news is that I didn't end up in the hospital, but I think I would have, soon.

I am changing my life. I am putting myself first. Among many other things, this means that I am running again. Slowly, and for only a few miles at a time, I am running again. I refuse to give up on myself and the "being-aliveness" that I love so dearly, and I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and remember to stop and take a picture of the nesting bald eagle because how often do you see that on a run??

Stay tuned because I have a whole lot more to share as I head down this particular life-trail. I am so scared, but I am so excited because, finally, I am going to acknowledge and prioritize the one person I can never escape - myself.

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This is the most Me I can be.

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