Sunday, June 20, 2010

A new direction

Fully aware of how dramatic I sound, let me make an announcement regarding this blog.

Running Stories has existed for almost 5 years. Over 695 posts I have shared “the tales of my training.” I have with very few exceptions logged every single run I’ve taken, and I have written a detailed report of every single race I’ve participated in. I have achieved a lot in my running career and this blog has been a witness to all but the very earliest days.

I have reached a crossroads in my life and I don’t think the running blog is a productive thing for me anymore. All the changes I’ve made in my heart lately need to be reflected in my life, and considering this blog is a big part of my life, it needs to change too. To summarize the product of months of self-introspection, discussion with my friends and family, meditation, and therapy, I need to change my focus. I need to think less about how the outside world perceives me, and more on how I see myself. I have spent years of my life trying to fit a mold of the person I thought I should be, and it has worn me down. I don’t know who I am or what I want. I am deeply insecure. That has to change. I know that I’m already taking a huge step in the right direction by acknowledging this, and while I know I have a long way to go, I believe I can do this. I am going to do everything I can to develop a real sense of self and identity. I know it’s not going to be easy, and I know this is something I will… we ALL will … deal with our whole lives. But this is an especially pivotal time of my life and I am determined to take control.

Running has been a huge part of my life for a few years now, and it has absolutely been a positive thing. It is a huge part of who I am, and that will never change. But certain aspects my running life I take too seriously, too personally, and it has to change. I know this is not necessarily an issue for most people, and I envy that! But for me, it can be too much.

In particular, I care too much about what people think of me as a runner. I want to impress you all every single day. Even though I post about every run, good or bad, I feel great shame or pride when I submit it for your judgment. I know NONE of you care in the slightest about the specifics of my training; I completely realize this is all in my head. But I go to great lengths to impress everyone. To show how strong I am. I think that maybe if everyone sees me finish another marathon, finish an Ironman, win my age division in a race, then they will think I am really something. But no matter how much praise I receive it doesn’t impress ME. Because it isn’t what I really need.

Let me go back and explain quickly how this all came about. When I finished the Ironman last November, I thought it would change my life. I thought it would bump me up to a higher level of being, that I would suddenly know something new and revealing about myself. But it was indescribably empty. The disappointment was crushing. I had been working for months to achieve this goal and the result was “meh.” I spent the day after the Ironman with Inga and she planted a seed in my head that day about living in the present, and accepting yourself for who you are today, and not always trying to achieve something big. We did some yoga that day and the symbolism of the scene was not lost on me…  my tight, wounded, aching body, so sore I could hardly move. I was wearing head-to-toe Ironman finisher gear, talking about how hard I had worked training for the Ironman. Inga was stretched gracefully out before me, her attire so simple and humble and she was telling me about how her yoga teacher training had taught her so much about herself. This was the single moment that changed my life.

The following months were incredibly difficult time in my life, and I’m so grateful that I had that insight before the shit hit the fan, because I don’t think I could have got through it otherwise. My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and shortly after with breast cancer. She has undergone surgery and radiation and is now thankfully cancer-free, but the Parkinson’s is here to stay. There is no cure. She is doing well, and we have grown much closer through all this, so that is a good thing. But it was really, really hard on me. I started having anxiety attacks and completely lost my usually positive attitude. The winter was long and dark and just awful. I finally started seeing a therapist and I FINALLY started doing yoga. Those two things in conjunction brought me back and to where I am today. It’s still a struggle, I have good days and bad… but I’m working on it. And now that I can get through daily life, I am trying to work on the deeper issues that have been holding me back. I’m taking on a whole new attitude towards life and this is all part of that.

So, ya. There you go! Back to this whole blog thing.

I don’t want to keep this running blog the same as I have all this time. It’s got to change. I thought about just ending it, but I don’t think I can do that. I like writing and sharing and I like all of you!! I’ve made a lot of friends here – local runners both in Portland and the Bay Area that I’ve met and have grown to be real close friends, runners and triathletes that live in different countries that I hope to visit someday, and a lot of others that I feel close to even if we haven’t met because we’ve shared so much in our blogs. I appreciate your support so much, you don’t even know. And even if you don’t get to give me feedback on my running, I need your encouragement on everything else. I’ve developed relationships here and I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that.

I’m not sure exactly what is going to happen here… I am pretty sure I’m going to keep posting but I’ll give the whole blog a new title and a makeover. But it’ll still be so your feeds will still work. I don’t know what the new blog will look like or sound like or how often I will post. All I know is that I will not be posting stats on my runs. It’s going to be more all-inclusive, more well-rounded. There WILL be a lot of pictures I’m sure. There will hopefully be more creative and better writing since I won’t be pressured to update on any particular schedule. There will be talk of yoga, hiking, traveling. And there will be plenty of running talk too. I am not going to STOP running! It’s not going to always (or ever?) be this serious and dramatic. That isn’t me. It’s killed me to not use tons of exclamation points throughout this post. (!!!!!)

I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this. I haven’t always been completely open about this stuff and I know I’ve deceived you in some way by leaving it out. You all have been nothing but wonderful to me and I thank you for that. Stick with me here, I don’t know where we’re going but I’m sure it will be an adventure.




kelsalynn said...

There's a lot I'd like to say but I'll just say this, I'm proud of you for writing this post and for opening up and putting it all out there.

I look forward to continuously reading your blog-whatever path you choose to take it.


Jo Lynn said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
Yes, the support we get from fellow bloggers is nothing short of amazing! I have discovered that. I could never abandon my blog either. It has changed over time but ultimately, it is about me. Just like yours is about you.
We don't care what you write about, we just care about YOU! ;)

Lotusphx said...

Words that come to mind... proud, inspired, grateful, and LOVE!!

Looking forward to your "new direction"!! I always enjoy your posts, whatever the content - because they are from you!

(I am using plenty of exclamation points for the both of us!!)

Layla said...

I've followed your blog for a very long time, though I've almost always lurked silently. While your running and traiathloning have impressed me to no end, I've also admired your honesty and the fact that you see things through to the end, like carrying on your blogging.

I think I may have started following Aron's blog because of yours, and now I've met, run and hung out with her. So your blog has also served that purpose -- you've helped people connect with one another and make friends. No matter which direction you take your blog, that friendship aspect won't change. So thank you.

Emily said...

Excited to hear about/participate/encourage in the next chapter!

Amy - the gazelle said...

it's so hard to open oneself up fully - even to a few close friends - and I'm proud of you for being able to say these things in a public forum. I am excited, as Emily says, to hear about & cheer on the next phase.

D10 said...

I am glad you aren't stopping your blog. I know it took a lot to write this post and I hope through your "new" journey you find peace within yourself. You are strong and amazing and I think that is a good start. We are all work in progress.

John said...

Dude, you totally rock!

The people who follow this blog do so because they sense what a great person you are - the content has always been secondary to who you are as a person - and that won't change.

Good luck, and I can't wait to hear what the future holds for you kids!

Star Rockers said...

Looking forward to the new focus of your blog. Keep writing! That is one sure way to figure yourself out. And I'll keep reading! :)

Amy said...

I'm giving you a virtual hug right now and I can't wait to hear the new tales from running stories. It takes courage to post an entry like that and I give you a lot of credit (not that you want or need it). Can't wait to hear about your travels and see pictures and just enjoy your life through your outlook. You're great, Jen. Always have been. :)

Alisa said...

As I said before, I think this took incredible courage to write and then post for the world to see. I think you're an incredibly strong person and I'm really excited to be there for you on your next adventure!

Thank you for being inspiring to me and so very supportive! I only hope I can be as supportive to you!

Dragonfly on the Water said...

Jen families come in different ways to each person & you have many types. I will always support you in any way you need me to as you are a big part of this family & we love you for YOU. Can't wait to see the new BLOG & see your thoughts on "life itself". We are here for you.

Marya said...

This is your blog, and you should write what you feel like writing! I'm excited to see where your new life adventures take you. I'm sure there's more to you than just running (or Ironmanning :).

Sorry about your mom's diagnoses. Happy she is cancer free, but I know Parkinson's is not an easy diagnosis. I think you've been doing skype yoga with your mom, and I'm sure that will help her tons! Keep up the good work!

Ewen said...

Thanks Jen. That can't have been easy to write or share. It rounds out a bit more about who you are (besides being a runner and Ironman).

Whatever direction you take the blog, I'll keep reading. Photographs and thoughts are always good.

By the way, being a bit of a training nerd, I was always interested in the specifics of your training ;) Take care, and happy running!

Erin said...

I admire you and your honesty here, girl. I've been following you and your adventures in training for several months (though somewhat silently), and I've wondered where you've been. I will continue to read and enjoy any blogging you write! Blogging is for YOU, no one here should (and I know I won't!) judge! You're an amazing writer, runner, person! Thanks for sharing with us :)

Susan said...

Jen...I think your blog was one of the first blogs I ever read. (That was back in the day when I couldn't keep you and Aron straight since you were both runners from out west!) I've loved hearing about your training and your races, and you've definitely been an inspiration to me. Running should definitely be something you enjoy, and you shouldn't have to worry about reporting your stats to the world. I felt the same letdown at the end of my first marathon as you mentioned at the end of your Ironman...I thought it would be life changing and I'd feel so accomplished to have ran a marathon, but all I really had was a medal around my neck. There's so much in this life and we shouldn't feel tied down or like people except certain things from us (easier said than done...). I look forward to following your life and blog no matter where it takes you.

And of course, best of luck to your Mom and family as well...sounds like a tough time.

KK said...

Wow, Jen, thanks for your honesty. I had no idea you were going through all of this and I am so sorry to hear about your mom (I hope she is on the mend and continues to heal). I for one always think you're kick ass, no matter what your times or workouts say. You are always so positive and dedicated to your trade. No matter what direction you take, those virtues will endure.

P.S. When I finally stop letting triathlon take over my life, I'm going to let yoga take it over. It soooooo good on so many levels. Glad you have found fulfillment in it too.

N.D. said...

I'm so sorry to hear what you are going through. I'm glad you'll continue your blogging about life. Hugs.

Marathon Maritza said...

I support you unconditionally, but you already know that. :)


21stCenturyMom said...

I can so completely relate to that 'so I did an Ironman - so what' feeling that comes as a bit of a blow. I honestly don't understand how people feel like that changed their lives or made them better people. I did learn that with faith in myself and perseverance I can accomplish something hard but I had already learned that through running my first marathon. After that it's just a matter of what you set your mind to. It's good stuff but it isn't necessarily the stuff that makes me good.

I haven't really been keeping up with blogs - yours, mine or anyone else's but I'm glad I took at peek here to see what you've been up to.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter in your life. Also, I keep thinking I should do yoga, never quite escaping the thinking phase. Maybe your new committment will help me.