It’s been quiet at my blog. I wanted to write, but the emotions were running too high. You see, my son had his first sleep-away camp (two nights and three days away from home). I’d like to say I handled it like Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet, who I referred to almost immediately after my son’s bus left. “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth,” Kahlil counsels wisely. “The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows might go swift and far. Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves the bow that is stable.”
Stable. Yeah, right. That was me. I was stable if that included snapping at my husband, crying my eyes out after the bus departed, and that horrible sad feeling I had for the whole of the first day my son was gone. Last week, I wrote you the following blog, shortly after the squabble and just after the departure…
Being a psychologist, I believe all emotions should be allowed, embraced, and used as learning tools. That doesn’t mean, however, that I personally like all of them.
Take yesterday. I wasn’t a little bit grumpy. Feeling peeved. I hadn’t had a bad morning in a generic sense, one of those someone-spit-in-my-cornflakes sort of days. Nope.
Nope. I was furious. A red-rage kind of fury. The kind that spills like lava and burns everything in a hundred-mile radius. The kind that makes you want to punch a hole in the nearest wall. It doesn’t matter what made me angry. Because we all get angry. Sometimes for highly justifiable reasons; sometimes not so much. I’d already bitten the heads off all my family members (figuratively speaking), and they’d left the house anyway. There was only one thing left to do.
I got my runners, my Garmin, and the key to the front door. Then I bolted down the street like the pavement was on fire. I was so angry (and Psychology 101 teaches us that pain underlies anger) that tears were in my eyes as I ran, and I kept my eyes focussed on the sidewalk because it was school-run time, and I didn’t want to explain my particular expression to anyone at school later. What a relief when I moved off the direct path to school, and began along the coastal track. The emotion still burned in me, the tears were flowing more freely, and I began to think hard about what was going on, swearing inside, shouting, cursing, raging.
On and on I ran. The emotion made me run faster than usual, as if I were burning the emotion away by physical effort. But it made me feel heavier as well, made me want to stop, rest my head on my hands on the fence and cry. I didn’t; I simply kept running.
I had planned twenty kilometres for this run, and by the time I got to eight, the tears had gone. I was simply feeling tired. I kept going, up a set of stairs, along the bike path because my trail had run out. Heartbreak Hill is near Rickett’s Point. It’s a gradual incline on a straight, concrete path, with cars alongside. No trees; no dirt; no native animals. It feels like penance, like how running might feel to a non-runner who hasn’t found the elation button yet. It only lasts a kilometre or so, but feels much longer. I pushed on, noticing that my anger/pain had eased; I was almost surprised when it flared up now and again. I’d started to forget how I’d been feeling.
It wasn’t until I had turned around and run back to around the 14k mark that I noticed I’d not thought of emotion at all in about twenty minutes. Good. It was working. My pace was slower than usual, but I knew this was because of the emotional upheavals I’d been having – there is only so much energy in any one human, and I’d used a lot up lately.
The last few kilometres home were hard, but only physically. The emotion had burned itself out. I was calmer, had come to terms with what was bothering me. I could face the problems I had with a more grown-up perspective, and know that the world was not ending, and that I didn’t have to end my world.
Did I feel better? Did running magically fix what was wrong. Nope. But it gave me the mental break I needed to cope better.
Sometimes a bolt out the door is really very called for, for everyone’s sake.
So that brings us back to this week. My son has returned safe and sound, he hasn’t grown so much that I’m no longer important, and all my fears were unrealised (okay, so I asked about the Emergency Evacuation Plan at the pre-camp meeting – that seemed reasonable, what with bushfires and all!). Oh, and I’ve stopped snapping at everyone around me. Phew.
A new week has begun. A week that marks three weeks until the Marysville Marathon, in fact.
Oh yes, perhaps that had something to do with the high emotions too. I’ve been training hard, clocking up 60k plus weeks, with long runs of 30, 32, and 35k. I’ve been tired, but more than that, I’ve been nervous.
In the past, I’ve run an ultra-marathon (50k); I’ve run 43k all by myself in the woods in training. But I’ve never run an actual marathon. Marysville is a trail marathon, meaning hills and woods and tree roots. And up until last week, I was struggling to find a good course description (not that I’m a control freak and want to know every variable to train for, but…)
Luckily, I live in the same town as the race organiser, who also happens to sell mighty fine GU Gels. Last week, after he released the above course map on Facebook, I stopped by his shop to buy gels. He began to ring up my purchase (“What’s your name?” he said, to enter it into the computer. “Patricia Bowmer.” “Ah, the compulsive blogger. I like reading your stuff,” he said). I began to question him (okay, interrogate him like an NCIS investigator) about the course, so he kindly pulled the course map up on the big screen tv behind the counter. Then he spent a good ten minutes talking me through the course, sharing the elevation change with me (I’d noticed that didn’t appear in his Facebook posts about the course), the technical sections, the hilly bits; I was reassured that the training runs I was doing were good enough. The other customer in the shop was just relieved when I finally left.
So please forgive my silence. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the truth when I’m blogging, when life is more difficult than I’d care to admit.
I’ve made it through the dark clouds and rainstorms now, and with only one long run left before the marathon, I am looking forward to a nice, relaxing taper.
And now I’m going to give my son one more goodnight kiss…