I just got back from a run.
My coach advised not running for two weeks. This way, my body can recover from a lot of the damage that Ironman did to it.
Two weeks? Two whole weeks? But...but...I NEED to run...
OK, so two weeks is technically at midnight tonight, right? So I'm not TOO far ahead of schedule.
I started out at an easy pace and my heart rate monitor was set to yell at me anytime I went over Zone 2. And it yelled at me--a lot. I had to really slow down. But you know what? It didn't bother me. Because I know that if I want to recover, if I want to come back stronger, then that's what I have to do.
So I ran down the road and passed the center of town. I then passed the Middle School, where little 5th and 6th graders were playing tackle football in their big equipment, and little girls were in little cheerleading outfits. Still looking a little overwhelmed, but improvising, and growing into their new surroundings.
After that, I passed a little park, where there are tons of trees. The air was humid, but at the same time, there's a new crispness to it...a sign of my favorite season. Autumn.
I love autumn.
Everything around you seems to be a bit more vibrant. The trees you've passed a million times turn yellow, purple, and red. Eventually, the leaves fall and everywhere around you, you can hear "crunch, crunch" under your feet. The clouds coming over the lake are a little grayer, as a sign of what's to come. Whitecaps crash onto the shore, and the wind whips the leaves under your feet.
Even the smell of the air is different.
I love this. I love to run in this.
So on this, my first run since Ironman, I really had to just slow down so I could do it right. Right for my body, and right for the future. And I really got a chance to look around at everything.
The leaves are still very green, except at the top. I noticed that they are already starting to show different colors--mostly yellow. A little yellow just peeks through the end of the branches. I smiled, because I know that if I'm patient, I will get to see what's really coming soon.
And then I got to thinking.
The trees are a little behind me.
The trees remind me of myself--but not now. Myself about 9 months ago. I started to change, but very slowly. So slowly that those who didn't really watch very, very closely, wouldn't even know. Eventually, in this crazy journey of the past 9 months, I shed a part of myself. I left a part of myself behind that had some doubts and fears. And I arrived in Madison and as I entered the water, I was down to just me. No one else, no leaves, just a vulnerable yet strong thing that was stripped down to its core. I lost a lot of things I didn't need at the time, but kept what would keep me going--and what would keep me surviving.
And eventually, by May or so, the trees grow their leaves back. No one tells them to do this. No one rushes them. In fact, you can't control it at all. It comes from within, and it will happen on its own time schedule. Usually in March I notice little red buds. By April, some of the buds are turning green--but the kind of green you only really notice when you look at the whole tree--not the individual branch. And then, one day you realize that the leaves are all open. You don't even remember watching them open, but all of a sudden, they are just there, and you can hear them in the breeze and there is green everywhere you look.
And it's always the same tree. But it is renewed. And as the cycle begins again, you know you'll never see the same colors.
So in some sense, I think I'm finally understanding the way that Ironman has transformed me. I'm still just me--same old me, with my values and thoughts and friends and job and laundry.
But despite this, something is different.
I'm me that's been totally, completely made vulnerable to become stronger. I've broken myself down and shed quite a bit. And I know it will take me a little bit of time to build back up, because that's just how it goes. But if I give it time, I'll have a whole new set of colors to unfurl.
I'm me that really knows, with all of my heart, that Anything Is Possible. Anything.
So I can't rush the next round of colors, and I can't even tell you what they are and what they will look like. But they'll come. I have plenty of time.
And I'll promise you they are worth waiting for.