Have you ever received a message, whether it be from the universe, God, Goddess, spirit, or your intuition? You know the kind...the kind you either try to ignore or the kind you notice, but push it aside for now. My latest one has been clear and it's all about shifting. I mostly embrace the changes that come my way, even if they are very painful at first. Lately, however, I have been feeling less of a dramatic change and more of a shift, a transfer, a movement. The voice has been telling me that my life is shifting. Some of the shifts are completely conscious, based on choices I am making, and others, not so much. I am not teaching as much Spinning as I used to, or as much as I would like. At one gym, my classes are full or overbooked consistently. I visualized this happening so the students would get annoyed at being closed out and ask for me to be on the schedule more, which they did, repeatedly. It hasn't happened. I have also had to drop classes due to personal scheduling conflicts and a studio closing down. I have been fighting this for a while now, putting the energy forward, as I love to teach. But, because it isn't changing, I am now accepting that things are shifting for me. Of course, I will not stop teaching and, if the classes come my way, I will grab them, but it is no longer my priority. I hear the message. It is time to move forward, to put more energy into developing my own business, seeing private clients for Reiki, counseling and coaching. It is time for me to get hands-on with people who want to see their potential, remove the haze that covers their own greatness and get off their plateaus. I have graduated form my spiritual counseling program, have been offered office space, business cards are printed and projects are in the works. I hope to take my knowledge from the classroom, both as a teacher and a student, and share it with those who are ready.

My shift into running has continued, and I just completed the NYC Marathon this past Sunday. It has been an unbelievable journey, more than I could even anticipate, and I am going to share some of my (long) race report at the end of this post. Challenging myself to go to places that are uncomfortable, both emotionally and physically, is the only way I know how to grow. To shift.

So, I ask the universe to keep "bringing it on." On my end of the contract, I will keep accepting it and sharing it forward. I hope my stories and work can be an inspiration, motivating other students to believe that anything is possible. Anything.

2009 ING New York City Marathon Race Report:

October 30th, 2009

Tomorrow is Halloween, usually my favorite holiday, and there are not even pumpkins on my steps. I am usually preparing a costume, getting the kids excited and ready to trick-or-treat. This year, I am thinking about my carb intake, my sleep, my marathon-morning clothing, my music and my dry clothes bag. Part of it is that Halloween is on a Saturday and the kids are with their dad for most of it. Part is that all my focus has been on Sunday, 2 days away, the NYC Marathon, my first marathon in the greatest race there is.

We went to the expo yesterday, which was tiring, but great. I hadn’t slept well in 2 nights and I was really feeling it. We saw famous athletes, race organizers and lots of people like me, who are simply in it for the experience. We went to Central Park and walked the last part of the race, feeling the pitch in the road, passing under the 26-mile banner and up to the finish line. We touched the statue of Fred Lebow for good luck. The park is bright with fall colors and the ground is scattered with yellow leaves. The blue line that follows the course was to be painted last night. As I looked at the empty bleachers that will be filled on marathon Sunday, I thought of what I might be feeling as I cross past the 26 mile mark and run the last .2 to the finish line. I breathed in and put the energy out there that I will be elated, high, feeling strong and happy and accomplished. I will know for sure in 2 days, but that’s my intention, and I know the universe will provide.

My kids were with Tim and I in the city yesterday. They have grown up in a household where exercise is the norm. I know they did not want to spend their day off from school at a race expo in NYC but, as I looked at them skipping through Central Park, covered with race stickers and give-a-ways from the expo, I felt great about having dragged them along. Even if it took promising a visit to the Times Square Toys ‘R Us to keep them in line, and a few expected melt-downs (both theirs and mine), I am glad that they came. I love that endurance sports are a “normal” part of life for them, that they don’t get amazed by running or biking distances because they are so used to seeing it. I wonder if, when they attempt it someday, they will realize just how difficult it can be. Conversely, I wonder if it won’t seem that hard because they won’t have the mental block of how impossible it should seem. Even though we told them, I know they don’t really “get it” that they were in the presence of legends yesterday, like Paula Radcliffe, Grete Weitz and the first female amputee to finish Ironman Hawaii, Sarah Rinertsen. However, what I really hope is that they remember seeing this finish line and being in Manhattan with me before I ran my first marathon. I hope that they are imprinted and inspired to follow along, challenge themselves and jump off their own plateaus, in whatever arena of life.

2 days...I am emotional, excited, nervous and in a bit of denial. I prefer to stay that way. All I can do is send the energy forward and let the rest of the experience unfold as it will. I taught my first Reiki class last weekend and one of the students gave me a gift that Terri dropped off his morning. It is a little plaque that says “Just For Today,” the lead-in to all of the 5 Reiki principles we teach. “Just for Today” reminds us to stay in the present and not waste energy. Eventually, each “today” links with the one that has passed. Just for today, I will not worry. Just for today, I will not be angry. Just for today, I will be grateful for my many blessings. Just for today, I will do my work honestly. Just for today, I will be kind to all human beings and living things. Just for today.

November 1st, 2009-Race Day

I had a little trouble falling asleep last night. I was cranky with Tim and that continued into the morning. I have started to see a pattern. It seems like when I am anxious about racing, I get really sensitive and my threshold drops considerably. Stuff that should roll off my back becomes much larger than it needs to be. Lesson learned, to be fixed for next time.

I was up before the 4:00 alarm, the time change making it a little more bearable. It was raining and dark and cold. I was all charged up. When we got to Let There Be Bagels and I saw my friends and fellow runners, I calmed down a bit. The van ride to Staten Island went fast, the daylight broke and we were lining up (the first crowded line of many today) to get into the staging area. We found a spot of grass and parked ourselves for the next few hours...the wait before the start.

10:00 am and I am standing in a corral of hundreds of people waiting for our start. It is cold, but I am shedding both metaphorical and literal layers as we are led to the line. We hear the cannon boom, “New York, New York” playing over the loudspeakers and, before I know it, our watches have started and we are running on the lower level of the Verrazano Bridge. I am choked up, taking in the moment, not even thinking about the journey that is to unfold. I shed my last layer somewhere on the bridge. It is not too crowded and the bridge is not bouncing, as is the legend. This is because they do not start all 40,000 of us at the same time as they used to. We now go off in waves, in a staggered start. I am feeling good, we are on pace and, as we come down the other side into Brooklyn, I hear the first spectator cheers. As we get deeper into the borough, the crowds deepen, the screaming is louder and I am completely overwhelmed. I fight back the tears. I am on cloud 9, my feet are not even hitting the pavement. I am running the New York City Marathon. I am really in it.

Brooklyn flies by, the early miles are easy and on pace. We stop to take pictures. There are bands playing on the roadside, runners are happy and exited. I finally start to think about the path ahead, sending energy out before me.

At the 1/2 marathon mark, I am good. I feel great about my pace, am starting to feel a little sore, but not too bad. I am taking fluid and gels regularly. However, somewhere on the 59th street bridge, my stomach starts to growl. The tank is empty and I am worried. It is only mile 17. I have no real food to re-fuel, just gels and some jelly beans. I don’t tell Tim, knowing we are coming to an infamous point in the race...the turn on to First Avenue, and that I am due for a gel. Sure enough, like an ocean wave getting closer, the screams from the crowd below become evident. It was a really long bridge, my parents were supposed to be at the bottom, and this was pulling me through. When we make the left turn onto First, I do not see them and I am upset. All of the emotions of hitting this spot in the race, not seeing my parents and the obvious fatigue that had hit both my legs and my reserves combined into one big mess. I slow to take my gel and feel a wave overtake me and I know I am going to pass out. I have never felt anything like it before. I begin to panic, making the feeling worse. I stop and tell Tim something is “really wrong,” and that I am “going down.” I am losing it fast. I see myself sprawled out in the middle of First Avenue. He puts his arm around me, solid and strong, and tells me he is not going to let that happen. He tells me to walk and guides me through deep breaths. He tells me he is not going to let me psych myself out. It is not like a wall, it is more like a wave. It is not my legs, it is my blood sugar. It is totally unexpected and scary. So, all my hopes of breaking 4 hours and 30 minutes and all of the cool things about running First Avenue dissipate as quickly as my carb reserves, and I walk. I eat a bag of jelly beans and I walk. I walk for what feels like forever, with First Avenue and the multi-colored sea of runners’ heads in front of me stretching out to the horizon. It is going to be a long finish.

The jelly beans do their job. I get through the panic and begin to feel good enough to run again. Tim wants to walk every 5 minutes, but the walking has begun to tighten up my legs. He is not understanding this and I am practically begging him to let me just run. Somehow, I make it through Harlem and the Bronx and over one last bridge and back into Manhattan, on the East Side of the park. Miles begin to blur, the pain up the back of my legs begins to intensify and I scan the crowd for any inspirational quotes to get me through. I find, “Your feet hurt because you are kicking so much ass.” and “Pain is temporary, pride is forever.” I tell myself to enjoy these last hours, that this whole experience is flying by and it will be over all too soon.

Mile 23 is here. Why it is imbedded in my memory, I have no idea, but it is so vivid. I have a photo of this mile marker, but I don’t need it. Runners are suffering, crowds are screaming (really screaming) encouragement, we are turning into the park soon and I am crying. My legs are on fire and my mind begins to drift. I think of my kids. Through fundraising for Team Reeve, I think of the stories I heard about those with spinal cord injuries, those who used to be runners and how they can no longer use their legs. I think of Tim running beside me and how much we have both been through, together and independently during the past year. I think of how difficult the end of August and September were, on both my spirit and body. I think of what an old friend posted on my Facebook page, something about just putting one foot in front of the other. For all of this, I am so grateful and it is the gratitude that makes the pain seem not so bad. The tears evaporate and the strength comes from a place I cannot explain.

We are in the park and it is hilly and the crowds are crazy. I feel like they are expending more energy cheering us on than I am with my labored stride. Tim is talking me through the final miles, the hills, the turns, the dips and plateaus. We come out of the park onto Central Park West, familiar territory from our expo visit. I finally see my parents, but cannot stop. I give them a thumbs up, and push on for the finish. I am crying again, but I am feeling no pain. Turning back into the park for the last stretch is indescribable. Tim tells me that if I want him to cross the line with me, I have to slow down. No problem. I am breathing only to avoid sobbing. My feet are moving on their own-I am out of my body. I cross under the 26-mile banner, feeling elated, high, strong, happy and accomplished. Then out of nowhere, I hear Tim on my left, shouting, “This is it! This is your day! Enjoy it! Take it all in! You will never have a first again! This is all for you!” As long as I live, I will never forget this moment and his voice, louder than I have heard it all day. All I can think is “I am FINISHING the New York City Marathon.” I am sobbing as I grab his hand, we lift our arms and cross over the line.

4:44:28. I am hugging Tim, feeling his arms around me, sobbing into his chest. I think we must look like the marathoners’ version of that couple in the famous Woodstock shot. I feel like the rest of the world has vanished. The woman who gives me the medal sees me crying and gently rubs my arm. While the story does not end here, this is the moment where the lessons become evident and the accomplishment is the most palpable.

What did I learn? I learned to lean. I learned to let someone lead me and to listen. I learned to enjoy the journey. Would I like a faster time? Of course. However, If someone told me that I could have the better numbers on the paper, but I would have to trade my experience for that, I would laugh and say “no thanks.” Never. I would never trade the goofing around, the picture taking, the joy of running with someone I love and who loves me enough to have taken on this journey with me, who can sometimes be oh-so difficult. Most of all, I would not trade the test. I do feel like I am tested a lot in my life and this was no exception. I learned that I can get my emotions under control when I need to and that I have deep, deep reserves of strength.

So, the new sneakers and the winter running gear have been ordered and some have arrived. The next race is in the close distance and a really huge challenge looms in the future. Even better than saying, “I am a runner,” I can now say “I am a Marathoner.” And, yes, the pain is long gone and the pride WILL last forever.

"You have done what few will ever do -- you have done what you thought you could never do -- and it is the most glorious, unforgettable awakening ever. You are, a Marathoner, and you will wear this distinction not on the lapel of your clothing, but in your heart, for the rest of your life." ~Dean Karnazes


Anonymous said…
Wow... the tears fall down my face in reading about your experiences. The emotions you bring to the surface trigger my own challenges .. not of a actual marathon race .. but of a symbolic marathon called Life. The deep reserves you speak of is inside all of us.. it's taking the necessary breaths to go deep and find them. Go Jen .. take all this and move forward towards your next goals in life. You can do anything!
Terri H.
Nell said…
Wow - Tears are running down my face. Thank you so much for sharing this, for taking me along on this heart felt journey. I am with Terry. It's exactly how she describes it. What a beautiful thing you have going for you Jen! It is true: you can do anything. And yes, ENJOY the journey!

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