Trying to Fall Back in Love With Running

Running and I have been on a break.

Truth be told we had a nasty breakup, and I was the crazy one.

I hadn’t return any of its calls. I ghosted on it. I cheated on it with Netflix marathons and over eating and drinking. In the past year, running and I tried to get back together, but then I would find something wrong with running like it didn’t satisfy me the way it use to, or I had a headache, or a newer shinier thing would come along like NFL Playoffs, and I would break up with running quicker than I ever ran.

I seriously gave it 100% to the 50 yard line effort with my relationship, but then I couldn’t run as far or as fast and I would give up. I gave too much, too soon. I start feeling bad about myself, and instead of having a heart to heart with running, I would find myself  turning to others things that were less pretty and didn’t mean anything like binge eating for comfort. When running would bug me to please call it back, I would get mad at it saying it’s too cold, or my knees hurt, or ask where my chocolate bar was.I felt bad about the way I was treating running, but the more it bugged me, the more I ignored it.

Oh but ignoring running was not the way to go. You see running would get its breakup revenge.It left gifts like heartburn and 15 pounds. It left nasty notes like bad test results and adult acne. It left me questioning life choices like what desert girl leaves the heat for the snow. It eventually gave me what I wanted…it left me alone.I was left with silence and heartbreak. My body started to ache, my breath got shorter, and my mind cloudy. I tried to find that same love in other things like quick Pinterest workouts, and while it felt good for a second, when it was over, I felt nothing.

When something good leaves you alone-when you set it free-you start missing it. You miss how happy it made you when you hit milestones, had your favorite songs, and took stupid, funny pictures together. You miss how amazing and alive you felt when you got that natural high feeling-as if no one else was in the room. You realize how compatible you were, and how truly isolated you are now without it. That empty hole you created is now even more visible when people ask what happen, or even new people you meet never knew you together as one.

I miss running. I miss the sound of feet hitting one…by…one. I miss that runner’s high I got when I hit my stride. I miss getting excited for races or sticking to a program.Running got me out of some dark places because it was something I could work hard at, and go through some shit with. Without running, a piece of me was missing-more than I thought. I want to get back together with running, but I am not sure how. All I can do is try to fall back in love with running.

But will it love me back?

Rainbow Connection

Repost from my blog entry on http://www.thetorchtheatre.com/rainbow-connection/

What is amazing about improv is that it brings people together from all walks of life. You meet people that you may not have met otherwise. It is these creatures and their other interests that help connect you. It is what helps you discover new characters on stage, as well as yourself, that you didn’t think you had in you.

For me, improv has helped me become a better marathon runner. I know it sounds like that those two don’t go together, but for me it does. I started running seriously around the same time I started improv in 2012. Towards the end of 2011, which was the worst year for me emotionally, I decided I needed to change. Some might describe it as a quarter life crisis and others depression, but the channel needed to be changed as I was unhappy with where the story of my life was going. I decided to try new things in the new year, two of which were running and improv.

Running long distances is probably the worst/best time for me. I curse myself as I run, but crave it most of all. This last weekend, my cousin Lindsey and I did the Graffiti Run, a fun & colorful 5k. While Lindsey doesn’t run, it was one of the most fun things we have done together in Chicago and just life in general. It allowed us to bond, get dirty, and have fun.

It is the same bond, dirtiness, and fun that I love about improv. And while different in many ways, running and improv have taught me three thing:.

Stay Committed – Let me not be the first to say waking up at 5am sucks, especially when you stayed up late the night before watching Scandal. However, running events start early in the morning most of the time. Your body has to be ready, awake, and in the moment with the race or you will injure yourself. While most improvisors are not up that early, it is the same mentality that you bring to your craft and a show. While we make up most of what we do, if we stop listening or we don’t react, we lose the scene. If we don’t work on our improv muscles and strive for better work, we become like stale bread.

Be true to yourself (or your character) – Unless you are Barney from How I Met Your Mother, you cannot just get up and run a marathon. Your body knows you are lying and will punish you for it. In improv, if you commit to being a crazy French maid don’t then deny ever being one on stage. You take yourself and the audience out of this reality.

Wear sensible shoes as heels and flip flops will prevent you from going the distances – A better title for this should be don’t limit yourself and don’t wear clothing that will hinder what you will do. Sure, I can run in 6 inch heels … not far, but I can. And sure, I can wear a gorgeous ball gown on stage. However, you will then have players like Andrew Bernier folding you in half like a pretzel on stage.

The point of this fashion rant is to say don’t limit yourself. With improv and running, it is going to take you out of your comfort zone — let it. It is alright to be characters you love and characters you cannot stand in real life. In some way or fashion, you can find an element of yourself you maybe didn’t know was there.

You also get to learn more about others in this limitless world. In the past month-ish, my Level One teacher Matt Higbee has asked us to bring a new object each week that represents us as individuals. We then put them in a trash bag and pull out something new that represents other people in the class and get to learn about them. In this exchange, I have gotten the book Good Omens, a Southwest traveling magazine, and the horrific movie The Little Black Book. It is different and fun to learn about the other characters in my class. It is also fun having them learn about my character through the book Man Up, Women’s Running Magazine, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding (my Mexican and Jewish family in a nutshell; also, why I need to run as we LOVE to eat).

I enjoy my weird and fun rainbow connection of the two and am forever grateful for these two activities. They helped me get out of a dark place, and pushed me to Chicago.

The loss of the Boston Marathon and Running.

It is hard to put in to words the events that took place in Boston. As millions of thoughts go through my head. As I turn on and off the news coverage. As I hold my running shoes a little closer… I just become angrier.

It’s the type of anger that you have to smile just to not scream. It is the type of anger that grows and grows by the moment. It’s the kind where someone holds your hand the wrong way and they become your mortal enemy.

While much of today’s events have angered a lot of people, I think the part that angers me the most is the loss of innocence and purity. I know living in a post 9/11, reality TV world does not factor or let us have that.

However, when it came to running and running events, we still had that innocence and purity. We had it as runners. We had it when fans held signs. We had it as the sense of accomplishment as we watched our love ones crossed the finish line. Or when we did. In those moments, no one or nothing can touch the community and pride that is built through running. They can not touch the freedom felt with running. They can not touch the support that your community brings. Running is a safe and comfort place in a 9/11, reality TV world.

And The Boston Marathon was the Mecca of that innocence and purity. Boston showed with hard work, passion and hustle you can compete. It is the best for the best. Runners and non-runners come from all over the world to be celebrate and be celebrated as you are at the top of the Mountain.

This innocence and purity was shattered today in Boston. I don’t need to go into the gory details as you know them. As a city shut down to commemorate those who trained years, felt the wind, runner’s high, and celebrated it got shut down more by the horrid acts of a few than those running.

They were just runners! Those in Boston were not all politicians, American, and hell some don’t have a dime to their name. They were runners. Runners who don’t make the decisions that run the country. Runners who find clarity in running. Runners who simply wanted to enjoy the mountain top. They were runners and the people who supported them. They took something from them and us as a nation.

Where do we as a running community go from here?

I am not going to lie. It will be hard to run a race, and not wonder if something will happen for a little moment as I cross. I think with time, I won’t think that way, but may still.

I am not sure what to. But I do know that nothing will deter the community and pride that is built through running. They can not touch the freedom felt with running. They can not take that away. That I do know.

The gift of running

Where the Hell did January go? I swear I was just toasting to the new year and eating some tacos. Now I’m avoiding heart shape things and watching some Scandal. Where did a month go?

In keeping with one of my resolutions from list for 2013- write one blog a month- I figured this still qualifies. So here we go.

January 2013 changed me. It changed my imrpov. It changed how I look. Witness 12 inches of hair:

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But what it really did was test limits. Limits I thought I never had by doing a marathon. You heard right- a marathon. For those who haven’t Googled this already, a marathon is 26.2 miles. While you might drive for work, imagine running it – it is worse than that. Almost anyone can train for the running portion of a marathon, but doing it is a whole different level.

The body is not made for this stuff. Your mind is not made for this. Your feet (especially if you like rocking heels) are not made for it. So why do it? Honestly because you are crazy. I signed up for the marathon because I would 26 and two months when I ran it, and they had a sweet discount.I thought well I’ve done three half marathons, this is like two at once. And yes I was delusional.

It didn’t hit me until the night before the race as I slept in downtown Phoenix that I am only getting home on my feet. The same mileage I drive everyday home from work, I was now running. To say I was freaked out would be an understatement. I cried then. I cried when we started. I cried the first mile. What did I sign up for?

After throwing up about mile 3, I started calming down. At the 13.1 mile mark it hit me… I have to run another one of these….!&!@&! My head was saying fool stop running. Get in one of those trucks now( and yes my inner voice is Mr.T). I kept going though. I probably should have listen to Mr.T and stop. I wanted to cut off my feet, seeing things that weren’t there, and wondering if my hands were going to be this swollen forever ( the answer is no).

After I thought I had a heart attack at mile 18, I hit a wall. As I approached 19 miles, I started crying tears of joy. I said to Estela (who joined me on this crazy journey) I am proud of myself which came out of no where. In the past, I have been proud by accomplishments, but I don’t recall ever saying I am proud of myself-out loud. It was cleansing. I started to get energy I had somehow had, and powered on. It was slow, but I moved again.

At Mile 25 we got to the Mill Ave bridge. One of my favorite places in Tempe and also one of my favorite running spots. I decided to take my time- enjoy it. I walked down the bride like I owned it, and for a moment I did.

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As I made the turn down Rio Salado, we saw these girls forming a tunnel. Like any inner Diva does, I strutted down the tunnel like I own it.

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At 26, we ran the last .2. The first .1 felt like it went on forever. I suddenly sprinted the last .1 and crossed that finished line. I cried again, but this time I knew why. I went on a journey where every emotion I have ever felt in my time on earth was felt. I was happy, sad, beaten, stressed, panicked,laughing, at peace, and some many other things one can go through, but instead of holding it in, I let go. I was no longer the awkward 11 year old, rebellious teenager, party college kid, or the hurtful 24 year old. In 26.2 miles, I came out alive, shinny, and new.

It cleansed me in a way only running can.

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