The Human Spirit

I haven’t wrote much about running lately. It’s because I was sick all of last week with laryngitis and took a week off to rest. I started running again on Monday, the minute I felt that scratchy feeling leave my throat and lungs.

I’ve stayed indoors to run the past three days. I ran 3 miles on the treadmill at the gym on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday- all with consistent times. Happy to say I haven’t lost the spring in my step, even after finishing a marathon a few weeks ago and then being hit with severe sickness.

I felt a sense of euphoria again; like all was right in the world (or my world at least)

I wasn’t ready to take it out on the pavement yet because I always get too excited when I run in Central Park once I see the herds of runners surrounding me. I didn’t want to overdue it. I stayed inside to ease back into the game.

I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more of a lone-runner. People always ask me to run with them and I tell them, “Yea, definitely!”, but it never happens because I always seem to keep to myself. I’ve said this many times before, but I value my running time as my alone time. My time to sort through my thoughts, relieve any stress, and be with myself.

However, I’ve learned that it’s somewhat unhealthy to be that way. Sometimes, you really need people.

This morning, we finally received the long-awaited July 2013 issue of Runner’s World.

The instant I saw the cover, my heart sank. This was the issue that was dedicated to the Boston Marathon bombings that took place on April 15th. The day that turned the running community and the entire world upside down.

It feels like so long ago, but when I flip through the pages, every word recalls the feelings I felt like it was just yesterday.

As I was reading the Editor’s letter from our Editor-In-Chief, David Willey, I found one quote from Michigan Race Director, Don Kern, that resonated throughout my mind and heart:

“If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathon runners are the wrong group to target”

This holds true to me in every way possible, especially now that I can proudly call myself a marathoner.

Most people don’t understand why runners run.

It’s much more than just a work-out, or keeping yourself healthy and fit. Those are actually just bonuses. It’s much more than that.

It’s a mentality. A state of mind. An outlet.

Most importantly, it’s about community.

The human spirit is an amazing thing. It’s resilient. We can be beaten and torn, but not broken. Runners, amongst all other, have proven that after the Boston Marathon bombings. To be able to rise above all the tragedy that has happened and come together stronger than ever is the miracle of the human spirit.

Runners are determined, motivated, persistent and nothing can stand in the way of that. Not a bomb, nor anything else.

I’ve learned that a sense of community is really one of the biggest reasons for why I love running. As I stated earlier in this entry, once I get into Central Park to run, I always get too excited. I immediately feel inspired and uplifted, regardless of however I was feeling that day. It’s because I know they just get me. They get why I do this.

In running and in life, we need the feeling that there are people who are going through exactly what we are going through. We need that comfort. The Boston Marathon bombings was a wake up call to the world.

The human spirit cannot be broken.

“Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn’t even know we had, and we carry on; we finish the race…On that toughest mile, just when we think that we’ve hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall.” – President Barack Obama

Chapters

“I think I’ve always been half out of my shell and half in. Sometimes I can be extremely wild and sometimes I can be extremely shy. It just depends on the day” – Emile Hirsch

I watched the movie “Into the Wild” tonight.

For those who haven’t watched it yet, I recommend that you do.

I was recommended to see it by a guy that I dated for a brief moment in time. After watching it, I have a much better understanding of his perspective on conformity and society.

In the movie, the character (played by Emile Hirsch) leaves everything behind to lead a life free of material possessions. He goes into nature, far from any form of civilization, to be with himself.

I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone, but basically in the end, he comes to terms with his own self-actualization and discovery.

I’m not going to go off on some long tangent about the foolishness of the human race, but I will say that people are getting more and more bored with their lives.

After the invention of social media websites that refrain us from actually making personal connections with people, we’ve become jaded. We’re always in the know when it comes to other people’s personal lives.

Why reach out when you can just secretly snoop? Why say anything at all?

But we do.

We say everything over the internet. So much to the point that nobody cares to hear it anymore. I feel guilty even publishing my views via WordPress. But of course, I’m conforming to the norm of getting your voice heard through the internet.

It has to go somewhere right?

Similar to the character in the movie, I sometimes feel the urge to pack up my things and run away from people. Run away from everyone I know and just go somewhere completely new. But what good would that do me if I haven’t even closed the chapter on where I am now?

I think we need to learn how to face our fears. Stare them down and confront them. Overcome our feelings of uneasiness.

I’ve struggled for a long time with finding inner-peace. I would continuously look for happiness from being in a relationship or accomplishing a goal or something along those lines.

I’m still on that journey to self-discovery. I know I can’t run away yet. I’d be leaving an entire chapter unwritten and I guess this is why I’m even documenting my life in this blog.

Just filling in the chapters.

New Goals

If there’s one thing that I can say I truly loathe, it would have to be stagnancy. Well, there are actually a few other things that I also strongly dislike, but I’ll leave those unmentioned. Right now, I’m focusing on stagnancy. I’m not religious about horoscopes or astrology, but I can agree with the description given for my astrological sign, which is Sagittarius. According the Daily Horoscope App on my iPhone, it describes me as this:

“Restless energy and the need for personal independence keep a Sagittarian moving in many directions. They become experts at adapting to the culture or climate of their immediate environment. Always ready to travel for business or pleasure (and sometimes because of an overwhelming urge to escape) Sagittarians are all too willing to break free of the confinements of responsibility and work”

Usually, I find horoscopes to be vague and applicable to almost any scenario, but in terms of personality traits, this pretty much hits the nail on the head for me.

I hate being stagnant. I get bored easily. I hate staying in one place. I need to constantly be moving or mentally engaged in something. I embrace change.

Side note: I don’t think I have Attention Deficit Disorder, but I’ve never been tested for it.

I think it’s mostly the way I am as a person. I enjoy being active. I hate to rest. And this is probably why I get sick so much. I hate to slow down (see blog entry “The Sick Girl Journal”)

When an area of my life starts feeling stagnant, I begin panicking. When multiple areas of my life start feeling stagnant, I completely lose my mind.

My half marathon/marathon training is now over and I have no immediate races coming up in the near future, so in terms of running and exercise, I’ve just been maintaining my fitness. As the days go by, I’m starting to get an itch to train again. I need something to look forward to.

But, that’s just one thing.

Now, for the big one: My career.

This is where most people usually start to lose it.

Feeling stagnant in your career can definitely drive an individual to temporary insanity. On a scale of 1-10, I’d say I’m at an 8.5

In approximately 3 weeks marks my one-year anniversary at my company. I can’t even believe it’s already been a whole year since I graduated college. I’ve accomplished so much in this past year.
As I look through my Facebook News Feed, I’m seeing an abundance of graduation pictures and status updates from friends. I feel a tidal wave of nostalgia come crashing at my face. I’m taken back to that moment for me and I feel happy. I feel happy for my friends who are graduating because they are embarking on a new chapter in their lives. For me, I’m already in that chapter and I’m eager to start another already.

Throughout college, I’ve always had an upcoming assignment that would dictate my future towards graduation- an exam, a paper, a presentation.

Similar to college, work is like that too, only you’re not graded.

When it comes to excelling in your career, you have to create it. You have to set a new goal. Apply for a new position. There are no professors who guide you. It’s in your hands. It’s in my hands now. I’ve been brainstorming ways to leverage writing into my career. I know it’s going to be tough and very competitive, but I’m willing to do what it takes.

Setting new goals in life is necessary. Similar to how I train for a race, I hate to skip a beat and I hate to slow down. I carry this mentality with me throughout my work and my life and pray to God that I get where I want to be.

Express Yourself

I’ve become accustomed to labeling myself as runner slash writer lately (apart from the title I carry with my regular nine to five office job in Midtown-Manhattan) Today, I read a blog which mentioned the shift in standard long-term lateral jobs that people used to hold for the rest of their lives. The time of being a master of one craft has ended. Now, being a jack of all trades is highly regarded.

People are striving to make the most of their time and taking more risks in their lives, but really we’re scared. A lot of us are delaying the inevitable. Growing up. And when I’m say this, I’m strongly acknowledging the twenties age group because that’s where I currently am, of course.

I read another blog today about a woman who is in a different age group than me, but going through completely different life changes that I couldn’t even possibly think of in my current state of mind. Frankly, at every age group, there is some sort of struggle to deal with. After all, it’s a new chapter of life. New experiences, new challenges to face, new decisions to make. But in the end, we grow from it.

Where I am right now, I’d like to invest my time into writing and running. As I’ve mentioned before, runners and writers alike are the same types of people. Usually, they go hand in hand. I know a lot of runners that really like to write and a lot of writers who have taken up running. It’s because runners and writers, similar to painters, and ballerinas, and anyone else who participates in a hobby where it’s you and you alone, share the same quality. That is, they value their alone time.

I’d say I’m quite the social butterfly. I talk a lot. Ironically, I lost my voice yesterday and am unable to speak, which is why I’m blogging two days in a row.

I have a lot to say and I like to get it out, but often times, I can’t find the right person that I want to share certain things with. So instead, I run. And if I can’t run, I write.

I never understand people who don’t want to engage in meaningful conversations. I have a lot of friends that just don’t want to venture into that uncharted territory. They’re all about having a good time and keeping the positive vibes. Don’t get me wrong now. I’m a very positive person (most times) But there are times when I think a lot, almost too much for my own good. I think about everything. These are the times when I need to get it out. So I run. Or I write.

The thing that I admire most about creative types, the people who express themselves through art or poetry or some other form of these things, is that they can say what they need to say without saying it.

Losing my ability to speak was a good thing. Silence is what I needed right now. Writing is what I needed right now.

In the end, sometimes you just need to express yourself. Whatever your feelings may be, it will manifest in some form or another.

The Sick Girl Journal

“The Sick Girl Journal” is what this blog really should be called. I’m noticing that for the past few months, I’ve either been sick or in recovery from being sick. I thought that after my marathon training was over and I had finally ran Big Sur, I would be sickness-free. To my misfortune, that is completely false.

It’s mid-May and I’m still battling the same head colds and sore throats that I’ve fought throughout my entire marathon training this past Winter.

Last night, I was walking around the Lower East Side with my sister and we couldn’t stop complaining about how cold it was. I actually regretted NOT wearing a winter coat and scarf…in May.

I can already pin-point the sum of factors that cause the continual crashing of my immune system. I’m not going to bore you with listing these things because I’ve done that a few times in past entries already.

Instead, I’m going to find some sort of meaning (as I always do) in my persistent sicknesses.

I’ve written about factors, and balance, and keeping stress at bay, etc., etc. Really, that’s all I have going for me. I’ve compared running my marathon to life. Most things can be a metaphor for life. I’ve posted artwork which had the Albert Einstein quote, “Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving” This is true because imbalance causes disorder and without order, things fall apart. Of course, that’s usually where discovery comes about. Another quote I like goes something like, “Things fall apart in order for better things to come together” This is another truth. In the midst of chaos, we often find the most clarity. And I find all of these quotes true as a writer because usually, I am most inspired to write when everything is going wrong in my life and I feel like I’ve hit rock bottom or I’m going through some sort of struggle.

Struggle.

I have to say that struggle is the most important thing that anyone can have in life. Struggle makes people stronger. Struggle builds character. If you have never struggled, you have never had to search for resolution. I embrace struggle.

Despite how much I absolutely abhor being sick, I also have to accept it and value it. It’s a humbling experience, just as my marathon was a humbling experience. We are only human, after all. We can be easily broken. However, we are also resilient. We can rise up and fight back. We can heal.

The thing that amazes me the most about being sick is how easily I forget the misery that I felt once I am finally recovered. If only it were that easily for all things- heartbreak, loss, failure.

Never have I ever sat around moping and being sad about how sick I was. The minute that I feel all better, I start running and singing and going out again.

How easily we can jump back into the game.

But if there is heartbreak, or loss, or failure, we often don’t recovery as easily. It takes more time to heal after the initial blow.

If there is anything that I wish I could apply more to my life, in regards to being sick, it would be learning how to jump right back into living my life after heartbreak, or loss, or failure.

Of course, there are some things that need more time for grief and healing, such as the loss of a loved one. But in the infamous words of Robert Frost, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on”

And that’s exactly it.

20130514-194703.jpg

(Thank you, Barney Stinson)

Hindsight Bias

I learned about the concept of “Hindsight Bias” in a Social Psychology class that I took in college. When my professor was giving examples of situations that applied to this concept, I couldn’t stop laughing and nodding my head in agreement. To this day, I still can’t help but whip out this term whenever I catch myself doing it. It reassures me that the thousands of dollars I spent on college haven’t gone to waste.

In a nutshell, the concept of “Hindsight Bias” is defined as looking back at a past event and convincing yourself that you already knew how the situation was going to end. Essentially, you say to yourself, “Well I knew this wasn’t going to work out anyways”, when in reality, you had no idea what was going to happen. However, given the information you know in the present, it comforts you to know that you were in control all along. This saves yourself from owning up to your own poor judgement. It’s a defense mechanism.

I do this a lot to protect myself and keep myself happy.

I had a lot of time to myself after running the Big Sur Marathon in California last Sunday. I took this entire past week off of work because I needed to recuperate and I was also in desperate need of a vacation. I spent half of the week remaining in Monterey while the rest of my co-workers went back to the East Coast to return to work.

During this time, I reflected a lot on my marathon, my life, my friends, my future, growing up, etc. I definitely needed this time to collect myself and my thoughts.

When I looked back on running the marathon, part of me still couldn’t even believe that I had done it. The other part of me wished that I had tried harder. I kept tracing back to every mile and trying to figure out why I didn’t go any faster. After I finished the marathon, I found out that me and my co-workers all finished within only several minutes of each other. I kept telling myself, “If only I stayed with one of them, I could have easily ran under 4 hours. If I only knew that they were so close, I would have gone faster”

Of course, there’s nothing I can do about it now. But now, I’m even more determined to run another marathon with a significantly faster time

I keep going over in my head about the things that have affected my training and the lack of miles that I logged. It saddens me that I can’t just be satisfied with saying that I completed my first marathon in the time I ran, on one of the toughest courses in America. Instead, I’m beating myself up for the “should haves” and “could haves”

I don’t want to do that anymore though.

I got back to New York City around 10:30PM on Wednesday night. I didn’t get to my apartment until about midnight. Fortunately, I had the next two days off of work, so I didn’t have to worry about waking up early.

I continued a lot of my heavy thinking. I thought more about where I want to be in 5 years and what I really out of my life (all the normal things that people in their mid-20’s worry about)

It’s funny that the moment I got back to New York City, I just wanted to be back in California again, yet when I was in California, I couldn’t wait to go back home. It’s the ‘grass is always greener’ mentality.

I started saying to myself, “My life would be so much better and more relaxing if I just lived in California”, but then I realized something: If I keep on chasing things and places and am never satisfied with what I have or where I am, then will I ever be truly happy?

This past weekend, I spent a lot of time with my friends and had the time of my life.

I realized that what I need to learn is how to be happy with where I am. As Jon Kabat-Zinn said, “Where ever you go, there you are”

No matter where I go or how far I run away from home, I’m still myself and if I’m not happy where I currently am, I won’t be happy anywhere I go.

Hindsight bias (although sometimes necessary) can be dangerous. Look back on a situation if need be, but move on. Be happy with yourself. Be happy where you are. Be happy as much as you can be.