Thursday, October 04, 2007

In Awe of the Human Organism

Today I decided that I want to track all kinds of steps I make on my journey. I want this blog to become more of a journal of my emerging life of well-roundedness.

In other words, I'm going to get out of my head every now and again and tell you what I'm doing and not just what I'm thinking!

So today was an amazing day for me because I had a physical epiphany that went something like this...

My weight training class includes a cardio fitness test at the end of the semester that could be one of three specific tests: a 3 mile walk, a 10 mile (I think) stationary cycle ride, or a one and a half mile run/walk. Any of these needs to be completed within an acceptable amount of time according to a chart which varies based on age alone. Certain times also fall within certain letter grade levels.

I chose the one and a half mile run for my fitness test, and, of course, I wanted to run it in the "A" range, even though I am not being graded. Competing against averages and my "potential" according to the chart is ok, right? At any rate, I wanted to run, and I wanted to run fast enough for a gold star.

Now I chose the run because I love to run. My abilities before the class began, and my penchant for cigarettes, would have said otherwise, but the spirit of the child within me adores it. When I was a young girl, I ran and ran and ran. In elementary school (4th-6th grades in particular), my friend and I were the fastest runners and we would play "chase" with the fastest boys and routinely outrun them--for a while at least. And, back then, neighborhood tag was the out of school game of choice and we just ran EVERYWHERE! The wind was always in my hair, and cooling off my overly red cheeks (the Irish in me perhaps?). When I was running, I was happy, and when I was happy, I was running. And since then, most of the happy dreams I've had at night while sleeping involved running just for the pure joy of it.

So that's why I chose running. And I also quit smoking and told myself I would run instead. I didn't know how, after all these years, but I just knew I wanted to run again.

The very first week of classes, we went out to the track for our initial practice run...not even the full distance, but just to see where we were. Now, setting aside the fact that on that day there was at least a 100% humidity level in addition to a temperature above 90 degrees, I could not run one time around the quarter mile track. I don't even think I made it halfway. I'd quit smoking less than two weeks before that day and I could feeeeeeeel it. Ouch.

So it's been approximately five weeks since then and we went out today for a full practice run. The weather was fabulous--for us here in tropical Texas anyway. It was just under 90 degrees, and the humidity was more like 50% (aaahhhhh!) and there was even a BREEZE! It was lovely! And I was ready! I'd been practicing on the treadmill ever since that first day of doomed running. Two days ago I had run a mile in less than twelve minutes, and I could feel the power rising up gradually even from just the week before. But I was worried that running outside would slay me because the treadmill felt so much easier.

You must know that good news is did read the title after all, right? :)

Ok. So I'm totally proud of myself today because I ran the whole mile and a half (no walking) in just under fifteen minutes! YAY!!!! And yes, dear readers, that is in the "A" range! Woohoo!

I was amazed that my body had come so far so fast. I observed a moment of silence, when I could breathe quietly again, apologizing to my body and saying a prayer for having abused myself for so long with cigaretts. And then I thought, "Look what I can do in six weeks' time!"

Now it's not like I'm running marathons or anything, but I would venture to guess that I have not run a mile and a half straight since before puberty. Not even in track that one spring in tenth grade when I tried to be athletic and ended up with shin splints that were so debilitating that I quit. And when I did run, briefly, for the team, I was a, but not for long. So I feel like I have a whole new body and I'm almost forty!

My next goal is to do a 5K. Unfortunately, I can't make it to the Run for the Cure race this Saturday because I have golf class, but maybe the next one in town. (There's always a 5K in town!)

But truly, this accomplishment, for me, is the kind of thing in life that can change it forever. I mean, I'm just not the same person I was six weeks ago. Taking care of myself from the inside out gives me such a feeling of strength and perseverance. I had the thought afterwards that we just don't realize how fortunate we all are. We could have nothing but the skin on our bones, and yet we would still have so much!

The human organism, not just the body, but the whole package of mind, body, and spirit, is an outrageously fantastic gift that we each possess. And we have complete freedom over how we will utilize that total package. Think about it. Nothing you could buy is as intricately designed, created, or functioning as the body you inhabit for your whole life. Even on a bad day, or with limited functionality and/or resources, we are all just miracles of life itself inhabiting the earth.

So yeah, today I'm just in complete and total awe of the human organism, and I can't wait to see what I can do with myself next!


© Nicole J. Williams, 2007, all rights reserved.

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