Sunday, February 27, 2011

hope; or, the space between

When I was a senior in high school, our senior trip was to a confidence building camp in Etna CA.  We did a ropes course (complete with a zip line that began 100 feet above the ground).  I was not really afraid to do the course, but as I began moving through it, I did find that I was physically unprepared. The ropes cut into my flesh leaving huge bruises on my arms and inner thighs. My soft hands were ripped by the ropes, and my recently rehabbed knee became a liability. The course was designed to challenge you emotionally, not physically. But, for me, it became not a matter of conquering fear for me, but of making my body do what I needed it too. 

There was one part of the course that I remember very clearly. I had to jump from one platform to another. The platforms were about a foot and 1/2 apart. It wasn't supposed to be a physically challenging exercise, but for me it was. You see I have an injured knee. So, even though I was 100-feet up (in a harness of course) I wasn't afraid of falling. I was afraid that my knee would crumple when I landed on the other side. The coach was telling me to visualize myself landing on the other side, to take a breath, and to jump to the other side. She said, "By the time you release that breath, you will have made it. Inhale hope, leap with faith, land with confidence."

It took me about twelve minutes to be able to jump. In the end, I was fine. But, I couldn't explain to those watching and coaching that this was different for me. I was already in some pain and I had been hurt quite badly before. When I saw myself leaping, I didn't see a graceful landing. I saw my legs giving way. I felt the crunch that only those who have been injured truly know. I remembered what it was like to fall, to lie on the ground clutching myself in agony.

In some ways, what I learned from that ropes course is that life is a much different experience for those who have truly been hurt--as opposed to those who only imagine or fear the pain that might happen. I also learned that with some coaxing I will take a deep breath and jump anyway. I sure hope this time I land okay, because I have had enough crashing and I could really use a soft landing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

fast; or, outrunning what used to be

Until this week, I hadn't run since I was 17 years old. At times it is hard to imagine, but I used to be an athlete. In high school I played volleyball, basketball, softball, and ran track. Yeah, I know. In retrospect this was not the right identity for me, not really. I prolly should have been in theatre or student government. I did a little of that stuff, but not nearly enough. Playing sports happened for two reasons. The first, because my dad was an athlete and a coach, and I desperately wanted him to like me, which he didn't. The second was because I was fast, really fast.

In elementary school, we would have a school-wide track meet every spring. The whole school would go out to the track-and-field area and watch races and track events all day. The high school would send students to volunteer as starters and judges. It was a big deal The events themselves were for 4th-8th graders only, but everyone would watch. For many years, my brother and I were the fastest runners in school. We were minor celebrities. Kids would line up to watch our races. They would point to us and say things like, "That is Katherine Frye, she is the fastest girl in school." and " Yeah, the only one who can beat her is her brother."  I was faster than most of the boys and for a very short time I was faster than my older brother, but that was short-lived.

I loved to run. I loved it. In the days leading up to the big school meet I would go outside and "train." Of course, even though my dad was coach, I had no idea what it meant to train, so really, I would just yell "go" and then run across the meadow as fast as I could. I didn't care about distances. I would just run fast. Stop. Then turn around and sprint back to where I started. Head up running like an idiot. Mouth open. Arms pumping.

I hurt my knee playing flag football for the powder puff game during homecoming week when I was 16. I was the quarterback and the middle linebacker. The "stud" positions.  I was injured when I chose to keep the ball instead of handing it off. I kept it because I wanted to run. I was tearing down the sideline headed for the goal line when I tried to jump over a girl and landed awkwardly. That was it. After that, I had to be cautious. I still played sports, but the running was different. It was careful. No more abandon. I injured my knee twice in high school badly enough to need two surgeries. I spent 45% of my high school days on crutches and a long 6-months in a full leg cast that spanned from hip to toe. I have had another surgery since, and need another, but without health insurance it will just have to wait.

I know exactly what day I would return to if I could go back. I would go back to the last Spring track meet of my 8th grade year. A teacher encouraged me to run a longer race than I was used to. I don't remember the length, but in memory even a  mile seemed far to me then. I didn't want to do it. I wanted to save myself for the sprints. I didn't want to be tired. But, I am a middle-child who has always craved approval, so I said yes. I made my way to the start and waited. I didn't stretch. I didn't even take off my black hooded sweatshirt. It wasn't a sprint so there was no starting gun. A teacher just said, "go," I don't think she even yelled it. I ran for about half a lap and didn't want to run anymore. So, I veered off the course and ran straight into the open door of the back  of the gym and into the bathroom. I hid until the race was over then I trotted out and said that I had suddenly gotten sick. Really, I just didn't want to do it and didn't know how to say no. Now, these two things have haunted me. Illness and an inability to be true to myself. I somehow feel like if I could go back to that moment I could either say no, I don't want to do that. Or, finish the race. And somehow, my life would be different. Better.

I ran for the first time since I was 17 years old this week. It wasn't fast. It was careful and plodding. But it was running. It felt so good that I just keep thinking about it. The weather has been sketchy so my workouts have been inside since then, but I just keep thinking about that half mile. It wasn't shuffling. It wasn't speed walking. It was running. And it felt damn good. I cannot help but think that I have signed up for this upcoming 12K in order to run in a race again. To get a new start, and a perhaps even a new finish.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Um, has it really been since May 2010? or; jesus, talk about inconsistency

Oh blog. I have missed you so. It isn't as if I haven't been blogging... okay, well, I guess writing blogs in my head isn't really blogging: it's thinking. 

Things that have been going on since May. Well, Egypt has changed its government. I started running and lost 30 pounds. I am still teaching at Shasta College and running the Puente program. Um, I cut bangs. Hmmm. you would think there would be more. Oh, I paid off my credit card debt (mostly).

I have not learned to speak French, worn my pink dress any where cool (not that I can't, I just haven't yet). I have not returned to grad school, or found a new job. Yet.

I am in the midst of a 100 Day Challenge. The challenge is to 1) Be positive 2) Be active 3) Eat healthy for the next 100 days. And, I think that this will be the perfect place to talk about it.