Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Facing Pain and Finding Bold

"We cannot live without the luxury of pain. We cannot avoid it or live in the shadow created by fearing it. We cannot minimize our existence by numbing it, or marginalize our experience by living around it. We must learn to welcome it, even embrace it, as a sure sign of a life well loved." -Kristin Armstrong 
The quote above was shared by my friend Jessica from Pace of Me.  I love what Jessica shares on a daily basis.  Her training.  The way she wears her heart on her sleeve.  Her inspiring workouts and races where she digs deeper and deeper to make her dreams come true. It has been so encouraging and lovely to get a window into her spirit and see how she continues to unfold. She's one of those REAL DEAL kind of people.  

Beautiful inside and out.
One of the things I'm most amazed at when it comes to Jessica is just how much she has improved with her running over the last few years.  It's incredible.  Just this last weekend she set a new PR in the half marathon with a time of 1:26:25.  If I'm not mistaken, this is big PR for Jessica and one that didn't come easily.  It came with a price:  hard work, dedication and pain. The good and satisfying pain.  The pain that comes when you are working for something you really want.  After the race, she posted a picture of her watch with the words:
"What a race! Nobody said it would be easy, but it sure was worth it. When my tummy cramped at Mile 12 and I had to walk and then stop to take care of it (so sick of this happening, by the way, not gonna lie!) I knew I had a choice in that moment - to either give up and settle for "good enough" or to be bold and run my heart out. I chose BOLD and I'm so glad I did!"
Jessica's picture after her race.  Here's her race report from the USA Rock n Roll Half Marathon 2014

I love what Jessica says above.  Nothing really worth having is entirely easy. In fact, it can often involve some pretty painful experiences in getting there.  Life (and Racing) is about choices and pushing past the hurdles so we can keep going strong. If we want to accomplish big goals, make our dreams come true and live an extraordinary life, we need to be Bold.  Jessica inspires me to live with more BOLD in my life.  And my racing. 
I am reminded again and again of just how much racing and training for marathons (or other races) parallels life.  This Kristin Armstrong quote was another reminder of this.  Life is full of seasons.  Some of them involving hard work, difficult times and a climb of some sort and some simply a time to be still, content with where we are at, and take things easy. These words about pain make me think of so many moments in my life that were painful.  Times that my heart stings just a little or experiences that have knocked the breath out of me and brought me to my knees. Moments that were necessary parts of my living that helped me get to who I am today. There is so much to be said about pain and the necessity of it in becoming who we are meant to be.  Pain is a luxury in a sense.  Nobody enjoys it while its happening.  Well, most of us don't.  But when life brings us trials and obstacles that are painful and knock us down or make us want to turn the other way and avoid facing it, we have a choice to either push through the pain, embrace it, and learn from it or avoid it at all costs and never get to where we want to go.  When it is all done, we more often than not, look back at our pain and can see how was part of our personal growth.
When I reflect on the way I deal with pain in life, I know that for the most part, I don't avoid it. I don't run away or numb myself.  I let it wash over me and I work through it in my own time so I can rise above it and learn from it. When it comes to racing and the pain that comes from truly pushing myself to a certain level..body, mind, spirit.. I can be much different.  Most of my races have been just under that point where I need to be to break through to a new level.  Just above my comfort zone but not enough to be as BOLD as I can and leave it all out there.  This doesn't mean I don't work hard and dedicate myself to my goals. It does't even mean that I have to be putting myself in more pain or going after that big bold level in a race.  I'm actually pretty content being comfortable right now and making training and raising more about fun. But it does mean that if I'm ever going to have another personal best time with these legs of mine, then I'm going to have to push things a little more.  I'm going to have to feel a little pain and be bold!  Although a personal record isn't why I train for marathons (at least not at this stage in my life), I know I have more in me than I put out there.  I also know that by being bold and pushing myself a little more...even through some solid pain that comes from digging deep...I'll see this boldness carry over into my life.  And really, let's be honest here Amanda:  It would feel really darn good run my personal best marathon time at Boston this year!  Maybe it's time to think about this bold that Jessica talks about and this pain that can be a luxury so that I can push past that comfort zone of mine.  
Just as accepting pain as a sure sign of a life well loved, feeling a bit of pain (the kind that comes from pushing ourselves) in a race and being BOLD can be sure a sure sign of a race well run (and well loved after the fact).  When we look back on our life, those moments of pain are probably some of the most powerful aspects of making our life amazing in the long run.  Thank you Jessica...for inspiring me and others to be more bold with living AND our sports.  You have me extra excited for Boston! No matter how I decide to run it.   

I don't write here as often as I used to but you can find Runninghood on:


  1. I love this post because it mirrors exactly what I was thinking about today. I was doing a workout in my swim class that had everything in it that I hate: hard swimming, swimming against the clock (time pressure makes me super nervous) and peer pressure - other people in my lane. I was completely outside of any zone I enjoy. I spent the first 10 intervals just talking myself into a dark place and then I had an insight about my swimming - about something I was not doing right. I tried a different strategy and it got better. I realised that without going through the physical and mental pain of this workout I would not have made that change. And learning to feel pain is something I've been thinking about a lot - about how being in the "hurtbox" is so scary, but somewhere you sometimes need to go because it's only by going through it that you can emerge stronger. I love how running is such a metaphor for life.

  2. You learn a lot about yourself when you are stuck training by yourself for hours. I hope all your training is going well.


  3. Hoping Boston is AWESOME for you! And congrats on the headstand contest ;-)