Moment of Peace, my #Best09 entry

Silence except the sound of my footsteps, rhythmically pounding in time with the sound of my breathing… heavy at this point, but not labored. As the sun gets high in the sky it lights up the gentle rolls in the water that fills the lake. It’s nearly noon. I come to a bridge that I know well. It’s not a big one. It’s not one that hurts my aching knees as I cross it. It’s small, spanning just a small offshoot of  White Rock Lake. Two women and two girls crouch below it, picking up plastic bottles and trash.

“What is this?” one woman asks.

“Plastic!” both girls proudly and loudly reply.

“That’s right! And what do we do with plastic?” asks the other women.

“Recycle!!” the girls exclaim.

I smile big, wave and run on… alone again with just my thoughts. Returned to silence, with the exception of the footsteps and the breathing.

It’s hard not to focus on the pain. I’ve been running for hours and over 16 miles. I fight the urge to wince, to stop, to give in to the thoughts in my head that tell me that I can’t, that I won’t, that it’s too hard. It’s been a particularly challenging run for me. With no running partner to pass the time chatting with, I’ve been left to run alone for the longest run I’ve faced in years. No Ipod, just my watch and my thoughts.

I take a minute to look to my left, to really take in the lake. It’s something I take for granted most Saturday mornings. My head is usually down or focused straight ahead. I realize I’m coming up on the water stop that will mark 17 miles, one mile from my finishing point. Another runner passes, alone in his own bubble of silence, which he breaks to look up and simply say, “You’re doing great! Hang in there.”

I’m suddenly overcome by emotion, by pride, by happiness, by peace. I am doing great. I am hanging in there. I’ve been hanging in there for over 16 miles, and I’m going to hang in there for all 18. And then I’m going to run a marathon next month. I’m going to do this! And I have nobody to thank but myself.

As a family of ducks swims past me, I turn toward the stretch that takes me to the water fountains, and it’s all I can do to keep the tears from coming. Look at what you’ve done! And why are you so surprised? Why would it be so shocking that you could run 18 miles all by yourself? You’ve trained for this. You have run these distances before, though it was so far back and so far removed from the life you know now it may seem like another lifetime. You are strong. You had a baby with no epidural! You are a mother. You can do ANYTHING!!

The last mile of my long runs is usually brutal, filled with various four letter words, shouted loud enough for any and all to hear, but not today. Today my last mile is a mile of peace, of pride, of reflection. Today my last mile inspired me to do more, to run more, to love more, to write more, to live more. And this mile of peace… this glorious moment of peace didn’t come easy. It came after 17 lonely, self doubting miles, after hours of silence and footsteps. It was my gift for facing a challenge that threatened to stop me in my tracks, literally. It was my gift for pushing myself beyond the point that I believed in myself. It was one of my most beautiful and best moments of 2009.

This is the story of my favorite moment of peace in 2009, inspired by Gwen Bell’s #Best09 challenge. It’s one quiet moment of the year that stands out as having the biggest impact on me, and surprisingly not a drop of wine or a single dose of Benadryl was involved. I know this post veers away from my traditional sarcastic writing voice, and is probably way more sappy than some of you can stomach, but alas, I can be cheezy and sappy sometimes. I knew the moment I saw the writing prompt for December 8th (Moment of peace. An hour or a day or a week of solitude. What was the quality of your breath? The state of your mind? How did you get there?) that I had to get this story out. It touches on so much that has shaped me this year.

This happened on October 17th, 2009, and Kendall was 18 and a half months old at the time, at home with his father, eating pancakes and watching the Science Channel.

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  1. That was an amazing post. I had a baby 4 months ago and have been avoiding my running shoes…but I think it is time to lace them back up. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. It’s not at all sappy. I love hearing about YOU, in addition to hearing about life as mom and the adventures of Kendall.

    You go, girl!!!!

  3. Can I completely derail this post? I love how the shift came after that other runner broke out of his bubble to remind you how great you were doing. We are such social creatures and look to others to comfort, even if they are just a reminder of what we know, or are just the spark we need to help ourselves.

    Which is why I’ve never understood the concept of alleged self-soothing. When we get to the point of tears, when are we ever able to self-soothe? Never, that I remember, for myself. Unless you count eating ice cream as self-soothing. When I get to the point of tears, I need to reach out to others for comfort, whether it’s my husband, my girlfriends or my online friends.

    I think the only thing that separates us from babies, is that it takes less stress to get us to tears – usually. I don’t cry over a nightmare (usually) or a because I can’t find something. Unless it’s the last straw in a long line of frustrations. I’m not sure what exactly happens along the way, that we realize those things are the end of the world. I guess our worlds get bigger. We can see beyond the binky or the “no” to something we want.

  4. Thanks so much! It was one of the easiest posts I’ve written in a long time. I just flowed from me, a story waiting for a good reason to be told, I guess.

    The thing about running is I almost always dread getting started, but there’s nothing like the feeling of finishing. I try to remember that feeling every time I catch myself making excuses and fighting the urge to kick the running shoes under the bed… out of sight, out of mind.

    Lisa, you make such an excellent point. I really was so very moved by that man, that stranger who went out of his way to reach out to me when it was probably pretty obvious that I was hurting. It made all the difference in the world. I could have taken that tangent on and made this post double the length, but instead I just focused on the peace that came after that self doubt subsided. Of course, he had a big part in helping me silence that, though.

    As for the self soothing issue, I guess I never really looked at it like that, but I can see where you’re coming from. I will say there are times when Kendall gets so worked up that the best thing I can do is let him be, even if just for a few minutes, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not right here if/when he needs me.

    For example, he is a BEAST when he’s woken from a deep sleep (my child, you think?). I can tell he’s frustrated from being so tired, but no amount of me talking to him, holding him or trying to soothe him makes that better. I’ve learned the crankies pass much more quickly when I just let him be for 15 minutes or so.

    But yes, it’s so obvious that the human element can determine so much about our moods and temperaments of the moment, young and old.

  5. I have been training for a 5k the last 8 weeks and I am running in my first this Sat at white rock lake!
    I love this post! I can relate to it so well. Even though I am running much, much less than 18 miles 8 weeks ago I wasn’t running at all. I am so proud of how far I have come with running and how far I plan to go!

  6. This post brought me to tears just now. Thank you for writing it. I miss that feeling, but I know it well. My son is nearly six months old and I haven’t been able to get back into a regular running routine yet. This post reminds me why it’s so important that I do.

    • Jen, it’s so hard to get back in the routine, I know. That’s why I made myself commit to running a race to give myself something to train for. It also really helped to join a running group and find some running partners who would hold me accountable. I didn’t start running again until Kendall was nearly a year old. Best of luck to you! I hope you jump back on the trail soon. It’s a wonderful feeling 🙂

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