on recovery & rest & what's next

I'm dusting off the virtual cobwebs, squeezing my hands open and closed to stretch them out, cracking my knuckles and loosening my heart-filter, ready to spill another season into these silly online pages.  

When I say the last few months have been a blur, I can't even handle the cliche - because it's not enough. I've literally been the busiest I have in my whole life, for better or worse, and I haven't taken a half-second to rest or reflect.  

It's like I've been riding a snowball, gathering steam as I've stumbled down this mountainside, but now I'm at the bottom, looking up, and all the snow has melted before I had a chance to take it all in.

I stood at my kitchen sink yesterday, glancing for a half-second at the pile of dishes that has been accumulating for 3-days-and-counting, and I thought "gosh, we haven't even settled back in." (Sidenote: we moved home 3 months ago.) 

I've run a million miles (more or less), and driven even more ... wearing a half-year's worth of tread on our brand new tires in less than a quarter of that time.  

The marathon has been won (figuratively). The weddings are done. The internship is over. The leaves are starting to fall.

And now it's quiet.  

I wonder if all runners feel this way - if the recovery from a marathon is in many ways harder than the marathon itself. Because runners are by definition a wee bit crazy - driven mad by numbers and hours and miles logged, by running races we'll never win and turning our lives upside down for the glory of exercise. We're dreamers and do-ers, seeking self-improvement in every step when our only competition is the feet that carry us, day after day, week after week, through rain and cold and sun and heat, away from friends and family for the sake of an early morning start. We run for fun, and then come home and sit with ice-packed knees and limp around for the rest of the day, just waiting for the aching joints to cease so we can get out there and do it all over again. It's a weird thing to love.

So take a 6-month ramp-up to the biggest race of my life - one run for a cause I love, and for the badge of pride that will scream "I am a MARATHONER," even if 4 too-humbling trips to the porta-potty during my race makes my time one to hide from the record books (Overhydration, for the lose!)  - and then suddenly end it, in just over 5 hours and I'm at more than a bit of a loss.

Because apparently all this time, when I've been running toward Chicago - I've been running from a hundred other things.  

Land Between the Lakes, at sunset.  October 2013.

Land Between the Lakes, at sunset.  October 2013.

So my challenge now is this - to sit, to seek silence, to - yes - lace up my shoes and pound the pavement again, but without a goal. To do it for fun, not with purpose. To rest and recover, and restore the things this season has stolen - lazy mornings on the couch, College Game Day, home-cooked dinners and friends around the table, energy to focus on the people and decisions that matter.  

I want to run a new kind of marathon - to try a new discipline of leaving space every day for quiet, for good work, for clean dishes and walks in the woods. We went this weekend - to sleep by the water and stare at the stars. To snuggle up by campfire light, to drink wine and roast marshmallows, to just be .

For this classic over-everything-er (insert the noun - achiever, dreamer, analyzer?), is perhaps my biggest challenge this year still to come? Can I be disciplined about rest? Can I be kind to myself while doing it?

The day after I ran, I looked at Price and said - "what am I going to do next? There's nothing left to do!" 

He smiled - this charming, supportive, everything-and-more husband of mine - and said "There's lots to do. We have to finish Arrested Development  and 30 Rock ." 

He knows the way my heart beats, the way my feet itch and my mind whirls. But he knows what I need more than I do, and these days I need Mexican food, red wine, and the Bluth Family.  

One day I'll run again (probably next week, since my knee has finally stopped hurting), but I'll always be me - running after a hundred things, all or nothing, 100 miles an hour. I can't lose that. But I'm challenged by these words tonight -

"[I have been drawn] into the disciplines of simplicity and rest.
I am learning that there are no short cuts into the With-God Life.
I get in the way. My life and experiences distract me from what I really want ...  The disciplines of simplicity and rest provide me no reward or credit. What they give me are the tools to connect with my Savior in the way I need and have so desperately wanted all my life."
-Bradley Burck