Sunday, July 28, 2013

Always Climbing

It's been so long since I updated this blog, I'm not quite sure where to begin. I suppose a painting that's become near and dear to my heart is as good as any.

It sits on top of the block shelves at yoga:Vinyassa. If such a title existed, I'd be "Senior Cleaner" there. For the past two years, I've cleaned the studio in exchange for class credits. It's honestly a pretty sweet deal. Even when it's super-schweaty in there, it's a pretty darn clean place to clean. I find something very zen and calming in being in there in relative silence. It's a good place to think about important things, or think of nothing at all. I haven't had time to practice lately, and I miss it, but the class credits will be there for me when I have opportunity to do so.

One day this spring, the painting appeared. It was painted by a former instructor at the studio. And it perfectly expresses everything I've been going through lately, but can't quite put into words.

Sometimes it's hard to move forward and upward. It's freeing, though, to realize you CAN do it. Sometimes it does mean crawling on hands and knees. Other times, it means grabbing that hand that reaches out to pull you up out of a slippery spot, or keep you from tumbling down the mountain. And, it feels glorious to climb toward amazing things and realize, hey, I CAN do this.

That's in the figurative, and in the literal sense. A week ago, I was reminded that I hadn't used my race benefit for July that I receive through my job. At nearly the same time, a friend texted to ask if I'd like to carpool to a run in Silverton-one of those long-running yet still fairly under-the-radar mountain races. We'd have to leave at 4am. It just felt like one of those tough, beautiful runs that was meant to be. And, it was.

We climbed from town, literally under the clouds and then up above them, six miles and about 4000 feet to the summit. At the top, there was a 250 foot scramble to the summit, with traffic going both ways, and runners taking care to help and encourage one another, as well as being careful to not send a rock tumbling down the steep slope into another participant. The view straight up to the blue skies at the bottom of the climb, line of runners working their way upward, may have been the best running moment I've experienced since taking up the sport (and, there have been many). This is why I do this.

On the way down, I met a sixty-something runner from Cortez named David. Our conversation flowed naturally, and we agreed we'd pace together on the downhill. Downhill trail running can be deceptively challenging. I've struggled with it for years. Today, though, the running flowed right down the mountain and back into Silverton. There was a lot of joy in pushing through the climb, and then feeling truly free to open up on the downhill. There was joy in sharing that energy with others, celebrating and cheering on others who hadn't yet reached the summit, and later on, those who had gone down and were headed back up for the "K2" or second summit. I thought, "that's so hard. Why?" Then, I felt silly for thinking that. In that struggle to climb the mountain, there's joy, glory, beauty. Lots of pain, yes, but above all, a sense of satisfaction and well-being that comes from pushing through it all.

I can't tell you where I will be a year from now, but I can tell you I will always be climbing. That doesn't mean I won't backslide and fall sometimes. I'll take a moment to regroup, though, and continue moving forward.

I'm thankful for some great opportunities that have come my way this year. I've been working at the same chiropractic clinic for six months now. I love that we get to help people improve, and reach their goals of being more active. And, when I hear folks who don't have running-friendly or outdoors-exploring-friendly workplaces, I'm stoked that I am somewhere that has an Outdoor Awesomeness Team, and a supportive environment to such pursuits. In that climb, I'm learning more every day, sometimes wishing I could pick things up faster. I've learned a lot in a short time, though, and know I can keep moving with that.

I'm thankful that despite it being a long shot with the number of applicants, I was selected as an ambassador with InkNBurn. I've always loved their gear-beautiful, artistic, yet fully functional, beat-the-crap-out-of-it-and-it'll-still-hold-up running apparel. They do have some elite athletes, but I'm just a gal who likes to run, and that's the deal with all the ambassadors. Folks who love to run, love to climb, and some have struggled in their climbs, but continued onward and upward. Jeez, they make a shirt with the father of ultrarunning, Gordy Ansleigh, on the front, AND my favorite running shorts of all time, my "technical Daisy Dukes" as I call them. I feel stronger and tougher climbing in their stuff, and it's cool to get to represent the brand.

I'm thankful that my kids are still very healthy and keeping me on my toes. It's true that there's no handbook for parenting but I love spending time with them-individually, and as a group. I'm really proud of them, and just want to keep nurturing the things about them that make them, well...them. Sure, some days I wonder if I am doing the right things with them or if I'm just backsliding down a hill. Then, I learn to stop second-guessing, and just keep moving, trying to make good decisions, but keep taking steps forward with them. And, I try to remember it's okay and even good for them to see that it's not easy to keep climbing, but that you don't curl up in the fetal position and quit after a fall.

And I'm thankful for friends who reach out with that helping hand. Sometimes, I take it (and really need it). Other times, just knowing that hand is there really frees me up to advance and climb on my own. Other times, just talking through things and climbing together with others is just the ticket. Then, I, in turn, have those moments where I can reach out that helping hand, and help someone else climb with less of a struggle.

I'm far from having it all figured out, but I do know this; I'm no longer intimidated by tough climbs. No matter how long they are, or how steep they are, I will take them one mile at a time, one step at a time, and keep climbing to the top. It may take some time, but I'll get there.

**Lastly...if you have not read it, I implore you to read The Oatmeal's "The Terrible And Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances." If I could be half as funny, honest and eloquent as Mr. Inman, I'd be doing okay.**

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