Embracing What Is

One of my running partners, Maggie longs for heat training. This past August, she completed the Lean Horse 100 in southwestern South Dakota. I sense that part of her desire to participate in this ultra marathon comes from her love of the hot, humid days of summer. She often mentions the need for heat training in order to get her system ready for endurance in the scorching heat of the southern Black Hills. She invites me to train with her every summer. I do so, but with little enthusiasm for I know that my system does not handle heat and humidity very well.

This afternoon the rain was coming down at a steady pace as I headed out the door for a run. The Weather Channel listed the winds as steady from the ENE at 16 mph with gusts to 22 mph. I thought this was the perfect day to experiment with attire for less than ideal weather. Canyoneering shoes on my feet to allow the water to flow through. A long sleeved, wicking shirt covered with a windproof, waterproof, and breathable hooded jacket. A running cap under the hood and waterproof gloves on my hands.My legs were secure in compression tights.  I was ready to run.

During the 10 mile run many vehicles passed by. No doubt they questioned the sanity of this runner. At times I hoped for a puddle so that I could get hit with a wave of water from a passing motorist, but to no avail. I kept moving forward with many thoughts careening through my mind. The final portion of the run was spent in a ditch with soft soil, water, and some surprising splashing sounds. When it was over it didn’t feel like a 10 mile effort.

Some years ago I heard and then incorporated the idea of “embracing what is” into my life. For decades I functioned under the belief that whatever didn’t suit my life, my ideas, or my perceptions was the enemy. The enemy needed to be defeated. It was up to me to wage war and win at all costs. Nice concept, but it borders on fantasy because it seemed that I lost more often than I won. In loosing I became bitter. My self-concept turned to self-abhorrence. None of this motivated me, but only generated distress.

By “embracing what is” I can become friends with what was once the enemy. This doesn’t mean I agree with and enjoy what I embrace. However, by going with it instead of against it I have more motivation. My goal isn’t to conquer and win, but to learn from and use what I can from that which I used to fight. I believe that it makes me more insightful, more tolerant, and more willing to grow. In so doing, my ability to keep moving forward has gradually become resolute.

This is part of the reason that I now participate in winter running and biking events. I have learned to enjoy the cold, crisp days and nights of winter. There is much to be seen and enjoyed by going into the cold, dark winter days. This isn’t just in the snowscapes, but in my sense of living. “Embracing what is” both outside and inside of myself has value and meaning.

In January 2014, I will begin my third trek on the Ice Age Trail in southeastern Wisconsin with the goal of completing 64 miles in 24 hours or less. I’m coming to embrace the Frozen Otter Ultra Trek and see it as a companion in my life.

Maggie, next year I hope to bring the same attitude to those long, hot, humid training runs with you.