To Run in the Rain

This mama needs to run in the rain.  

As I learn more about myself, I am realizing I am much introverted than I previously thought.  I like the idea of being around people, but I really thrive off of having time alone in quiet.  This is one of the many reasons why running is so good for me. It gives me the space to be in a quiet rhythm.  It allows me to think, pray, and breathe.  Don’t get me wrong, I love running with others as well and connecting in this way, but every once in a while a solo run does my soul a lot of good.

The rain just kept coming this week.  It rained and rained.  Every time I looked out the window my initial thought was to skip the run.  Stay inside my mind whispered. Even though I have been a runner for over a decade, basically every time I go out for a run, I am again dealing with the internal battle of just staying inside.  I know some people eagerly lace up their shoes and prance out the door to run, but this is just not how I operate.  It would probably fool you when I am actually out running with a smile, but that initial push out the door is so hard for me.  It is especially hard now when I don’t have a coach telling me what to do or a team depending on me to be in shape.  Now, I am the coach.  I am the whole team.  With anything, when it is just you, performing and producing your best becomes even less motivating.

Despite this desire to stay inside, I managed to get out the door twice to run.  And it was two of the best choices I made all week.  Both times felt magical.  The best part of running in the rain is that not a lot of people do it.  The park was empty.  The strand was deserted. All I could hear was the rain rhythmically hitting my visor.  All I could see was waves crashing.  All I could feel was peace.  I was not thinking about other people.  I was not trying to pass the person 100 meters ahead of me.  I was not trying to impress by running as fast as I could.  I was not worried about pace or performance.  I was simply just running in the rain.  Alone.

When all the exterior elements of running are stripped down and you are left with just the raw aspects of movement, breath, and cadence; you can really find the joy in running.  You can find it in its purest form.  I think over the past few years, I got lost in the races, the time trials, the competition.  I think I forgot what it feels like to just run because you can, not because you have to.  When it comes down to it, I really love to run.  I actually have always loved it, but I think somewhere along the way running became something else.  It became pressurized and demanding.  It became solely about performance and pleasing coaches.  The rawness of running: breath, movement, cadence; became lost.

It took having a baby to get me to return to running and fall back in love with the sport.  Once Hudson was born, all expectations of who I was as a runner seemed to dissipate.  It did not matter if I ran for just 20 minutes.  It did not matter if I ran 10 minute pace.  These are things that I would of laughed at a few years ago, but now it was all about getting out the door.  It no longer was about the pace or the mileage.  It was solely about running to clear my head, running to get off the baby weight, running to take a break, running to pray for patience.  It was all about the movement.  I was running because I had a deep down need to move and it turns out running is the best way I know how to do that. I finally was in a place where I could run without the pressure, anxiety, and fear that seemed to plague most of my college running career.  I could run and walk.  I could stop when I felt tired. I could just run a loop around the block and return home.  I finally am learning to run with grace.  And this is making all the difference in my love for running.

Running in the rain last week reminded me why I run.  It reminded me how running is supposed to feel in its purest form.  It reminded me the importance of not waiting until conditions or life is perfect.  If we run like this or if we live like this, we never will run much or really do anything at all.  Sometimes it will rain all week. Sometimes you will have bad days, weeks, months, years.  And sometimes you just have to face it.  You have to tie up those shoes.  Put on your hat.  And start that watch.  And just like running in the rain, through movement and action, you can eventually be reminded of why you do what you do and be at peace with whatever life gives you.

A Heart Fill Up

This mama needs a heart fill up.  My heart was low this week.  It was in need of a fill up.  Just like the way I drive my car, my heart is often on empty while I keep pushing through the miles without taking the time to do what I really need…fill up! I am not sure what it was.  Maybe it was the after-Thanksgiving rush.  The Black Friday and Cyber Monday push to consume and save.  Maybe it was all the Christmas decor messily spread throughout our home.  Maybe it was the fact that I have a baby that refuses to sleep through the night.  Regardless of the exact reason, I felt slow this week.  I felt unproductive.  And mostly, I felt plain tired.  Mondays are my clean-up days.  On Mondays, I mostly regroup from the weekend rush and get the house back in order. Sweeping up all of Nala’s golden hair, dusting, reorganizing, folding laundry.  This Monday none of that seemed to happen.  So the rest of the week I felt behind and questioned how it seems like I only seem to be able to take care of Hudson and make dinner in a full day when most people are out in the world being productive and busy and important. These are the lies I tell myself.

On Thursday, I got my much needed fill up.  The rain almost stopped me from getting what I really, truly needed, but thankfully it did not.  Thursday was the day I went to visit my students at the school I taught the past two years at.  The night before when I looked over the weather forecast, I thought to myself, if it is rainy really hard in the morning, I will just reschedule.  And it was rainy really hard in the morning.  The easy thing would have been to just choose another day.  The students did not even know I was coming.  Just my one teacher friend knew.  While this was the easier thing to do, I really felt God tugging on my heart to go.  So I went.  While I was stuck in rainy LA traffic and had a screaming 5 month-old in the back of my car, I questioned if I heard God correctly.  But I kept driving.  When I pulled up to the school, it began to come down even harder.  I quickly wrapped my oversized scarf over my head, draped a blanket over Hudson’s carseat and ran towards the school’s entrance.  I felt slightly crazy. Why was I doing this?  But literally right when I pulled open the metal gate, two students called out “Mrs. Capel!” and ran towards me, grabbing Hudson, and helping me get out of the rain.  It was right when I heard that “Mrs. Capel” that I knew I heard Him right. This was where I was supposed to be on this rainy Thursday morning.

From that moment on, I was filled up with so much love.  It came in the form of hugs, smiles, and “we miss you so much”.  In a lot of ways, I have not missed teaching.  I have not missed the tremendous stress, the endless grading, the repeated disciplining.  However, I have absolutely missed them.  They were absolutely the very best part of my job and I miss them daily.  I miss them so much that I do sometimes wonder if it made sense to leave the school.  But then I look at my sleeping baby on the monitor as I type this and I know I made the right decision.  I miss all of my students so much, but I know I would miss even more this precious time I get with my little Hudson and for that I am very grateful.  I am learning that you simply cannot have it all or do it all.  I wish I could.  But I can’t.  I think I will always be in a season where I will be missing something or someone.  And that is okay.  While it is okay and even good to miss what we no longer have, I hope that I never miss things too much; that I prevent myself from soaking in all the good things I do have.  Because there is a lot of good to be soaked in.

I left that Thursday afternoon, with my heart filled to the brim.  I drove away feeling so thankful I went. So thankful for all of those kids I got to teach. And so thankful for Hudson.  Sometimes we need fill ups.  Actually, daily we need fill ups. I daily forget who I am.  I daily need to be reminded of the promises of God in scripture.  Because the reality is the world is hard and messy and not always pretty; and each day the chaos of the day can cause me to forget who I am in Christ.  This daily fill up typically comes in the form of reading my Bible, praying, and being alone.  I am a fan of being alone.  But, I am learning that being with good people also is a big source of encouragement, energy, and love for me.  Thursday was full of good people and rain.  I am thankful for both.  And I am thankful I listened to those whispers to go out.