Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sweet Spot

It's been a long week, friends.  Boy Genius has been having more migraines than usual (he started getting them in first grade, he's an intense kid) and woke up Monday morning feeling nauseas and exhausted - which is usually the start of the things.  I kept him home from school and called the doc.  They couldn't get him in until Wednesday - by which time he had been out of school Mon, Tues and part of Wed.  His doctor wanted to do some blood work to rule out anything serious.  Boy Genius - who is ten- has never had blood drawn (except by finger prick which, of course, is not what needed to be done).  He was incredibly brave, talking to me about the book he was reading while they dug around in his arm, trying to find a vein.  I, on the other hand,was trying desperately not to pass out.  Thankfully, the blood work came back normal and he's feeling much better. 

From Boy Genius' doc's office, I went to the Walgreens clinic because I was feeling pretty crappy.  The nurse there - who was incredibly nice and took loads of time talking to me and examining me - diagnosed allergies and gave me some stuff which has pretty much nullified the symptoms. 

The piece de resistance of children and doctors occured last night around 9:00.  Noah had been sounding a little raspy when we put him to bed but seemed fine.  Then, an hour or so after we put him down, he woke up crying and making a sound that no parent should hear from their child.  If you've ever had a child with croup, you know what "strider" is and will probably never forget it.  He just got over a case of croup that went to pneumonia in December so I knew what I was hearing.  I tried the usual - a steamy bathroom, a trip outside - but nothing seemed to be helping.  Hubby got him calmed down but, even asleep in his Daddy's arms, he was still making that "whooping" sound with each inhale.  After some debate which shall remain confidential, we went to the emergency room.  They promptly gave him a steroid breathing treatment which helped immensely and gave him some oral steroid as well which made him strangely hyper but much better.  We were sent home at midnight. 

Its tough to see your kids sick - especially when it seems to occur one after the other, insult following injury. When we go through these things, I thank God that we live in a time and are in a position where treatment is available and effective.  I can't imagine what the mothers at the turn of the century - or those who are desperately poor in our time - went (go) through.  To watch your child suffer is bad enough, to be able to do nothing to help must be unbearable.

This week, as most weeks do nowadays, culminated in my long run - a longer run than I've ever done (which is also normally the case these days).  I chose to head out to a nice flat trail by the river to do my 12 miles and change.  It was a beautiful day.  I left a happy if slightly hoarse baby with a content if slightly tired Daddy.  The sun was shining.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky.  I had some new tunes on my iPod and my legs were fresh from a rest week.  After everything that went down this week, it was beyond luxurious to have a couple of hours to myself.  The first hour was glorious.  It was warm enough that I wasn't chilly but cool enough that I felt refreshed.  There was a fresh coat of snow on the ground (I'm laughing at myself just now because I accidently typed snot instead of snow.  brings about an entirely different image).  The river was clear and reflected the sunshine.  Lovely. 

At an hour, my legs started hurting a little - not a lot.  I found myself slowing down if I let my guard down which, ironically, was harder than keeping my normal "cruise" pace.  Your instinct is to slow down because you're tired but it turns into a slog if you slow down too much - and it feels like more impact, at least to me.  Going too slow will wear me out as quickly as going too fast.  You have to find your sweet spot and stick with it.  Natural enough at 6 or 8 or even 9 miles.  But, you start getting closer to that ten mile mark and the body just wants to call it quits.  By an hour and half into it, I was hurting for real.  I had to fight myself to stay in the sweet spot - even though that remained the most comfortable pace to run and I didn't feel worn out.  As I closed in on the two hour mark (my run was to be 2 hours and twenty min.), I was sure I couldn't go on.  "I can't" my quitter brain would whine.  "yes.  you can.  suck it up." Beast would growl.  I had run to the end of the trail and was almost back to the start where I would have to turn around and run another twenty min. before doubling back again.  I'm not gonna lie.  Turning around was hard.  I was praying again, asking for the right attitude, asking to find the joy, to move above the pain.  But I turned.  And I ran. Then, just a couple of minutes into my second lap, something happened.  The cloud in my brain lifted.  My legs felt a little lighter.  A thought came like a bolt from somewhere deep - "I will not be defined by suffering."  Yes!  " I will be defined by perseverence, by my stubborn determination to keep on putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what."  That's it, friends.  That's it in a nutshell. 

I finished the run.  The remainder actually felt pretty good.  It hurt.  But it still felt pretty good.  I hurt now.  But I feel good.  The baby's in the bath, dinner' s in my belly, the day is almost done.  Everyone is well and another long run is in the books.  These are the moments that define our life - if we let them be.  If we resist our temptation to identify with the suffering and ignore the blessings.  Only we can decide what we will be defined by.  And its a choice that's not made once but a thousand times a day.  God give me the strength to choose right more than I choose wrong.  And the strength to keep at it - no matter what.

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