The Rainbow Connection

It's no secret that I like rainbows.  I like them because they're colorful and beautiful and also because of the associations with unicorns and sunshine and hearts and let's not forget glitter and sparkles.  But recently, I had a total epiphany about rainbows and what they mean to me. 

can you see the rainbow through the clouds? It's like where's waldo
On the way to school the other day, it was pouring.  And not just pouring, but teeming.  Just full on rain.  As we got a little closer to school, the rain stopped and we could see peeks of sun through the clouds.  My sweet little girl said:

Mommy, there's gonna be a rainbow soon ... I don't mind the rain.  Because sometimes there's a rainbow after and rainbows make everything better.

Now, to be clear, at age 7, she was absolutely talking literally and not metaphorically, but I thought about what she said, and I realized that her sweet little summation of rain and rainbows was without question a metaphor for my life.  You see, I've spent a lot of time in the rain lately.  

A few weeks ago, I posted about my "Spring Break-down".  I was kind of kidding.  But I was also pretty serious.  Work was out of control.  Training was busy and frustrating. I contracted the flu, which took a good two weeks from which to recover.  And to top it off, I lost a cousin who was in her early 40s to cervical cancer.  Her death happened quickly, without much warning and unfairly.  She was young, happy, kind and had the biggest heart.  We said goodbye to her the day before Easter, and it profoundly affected me.  I was struck by how many people came to say goodbye and by the overwhelming sense of love and loss in that room.  A close family friend sang a lovely song during the funeral service.  I have no idea what the words were, but her voice was sweet and soprano and beautiful ... and tinged with tears.  The most beautiful thing about that song was not the words or her voice or her courage in singing in front of a room filled with people; the most beautiful thing about that song was how completely filled with love it was.  At a time when no words could assuage the sadness, no action could "fix" what happened, the simple act of singing a beautiful song was an almost tangible expression of love.  The song itself was the rainbow in deluge of grief.  

The rain has continued to fall and I've worked my way through it.  One of the most upsetting things has been the shift I've felt about training.  Running has always been, and will always be,  my soul sport that brings me joy and happiness and catharsis no matter what.  Yet, my runs were not doing that.  They were stressing me out.  They were annoying.  I was on one of my recent long training runs, and at one point thought to myself, "why am I doing this? I'm not having fun. This is not fun."  Now, anyone who runs or trains knows that not all workouts are fun.  Some are tough.  But at the end of the day, if you consider it a net "fun", then you're good.  My workouts were becoming a source of stress.  I was viewing them as a chore.  I wasn't loving running.  And that would not stand. That was not OK.  Because what is the point?  That's when I realized it was time for a reset.  Not a "rest" but a "reset".  Funny how that one little letter changes the word completely.

I need a reset so that I can simply enjoy swim-bike-running for the sake of the activities themselves. I have been training for, and have accomplished, huge goals over the past few years.  Those goals are, and always will be, a huge part of who I am.  And I still have a ton of goals left in me.  But in order to reinvigorate and reenergize my love of the race, I need to step back and stop training.  I won't stop my activities. But I am not racing for awhile.  I have the NJ State Marathon this Sunday and Devilman Sprint Tri the following week. After that, I have nothing on the calendar until November.  I need a reset.  I need to step back from the structure and the rigor of a "training" schedule and simply enjoy the sports.  I need a reset, not a rest.  

I want to try new things this Summer.  Trail running, more kayaking, yoga, hiking and -- gasp! -- walking.  I want to hop in a lake and just swim without regard to how long or how fast or how far.  I want to wake up on a Sunday morning and say "hmmm, how far should I run today?  let's do ... 10!"  I want to challenge myself to be more spontaneous and more relaxed (and yes, I recognize the irony in what I just said).  But part of being in the rain has been this focus on a big goal and the race, and the loss of the simple joy of my daily runs.  I want to get that back.  So taking myself out of the training schedule cycle is the way to do it.  I need a reset, not a rest. 

Don't get me wrong: I love racing. I love training.  I love schedules.  It's a big part of who I am. And that has been reflected over and over as I've told people who know me about my plans to take the summer off from competition.  My former mother-in-law kind of gasped when I told her!  And those reactions are wonderful, because it shows me how much a part of my life racing is.  I chatted with my coach, who is fully on board.  We've agreed to start working for Boston 2016 in August.  But, in the meantime, I need a reset, not a rest.  

This is a very long way of saying once my two races coming up are finished, I won't be posting as many training recaps here on the blog, but will be focused more on experiences.  I will certainly get back to a more regimented schedule in the Fall (and I will be ready for it). But the Spring and Summer will be about new adventures and experiences.  

And back to rainbows, because everything comes back to rainbows.  After my little one pointed out the possibility of seeing a rainbow, and after I dropped the kids at school, I drove through three rainbows.  Three.  One Rainbow. Boom! Two Rainbows. Boom! Three Rainbows. Boom!  The picture above is one of them.  I have to think it meant something.  All of these rainbows.  All of this hope.  All of this promise that even though the rain was here, now "everything will be better."  I believe it will.  On recent runs, I've thought a lot about the fact that I am lucky - ever so lucky - to be able to run like I do.  That I am here to see another Spring.  That I can smell the sweet flowers and the fresh grass and to move and feel fast.  I'm moving onto my rainbow stage from the rain of the past few months, and I am so very happy.

I will leave you with my favorite lyrics from the song that's the title of this post, "Rainbow Connection".  I have this song on a handful of running playlists (sung by Kenny Loggins) and I love it when it comes on.  These particular lyrics of the song always make me cry:

What's so amazing
That keeps us stargazing

And what do we think we might see
Some day we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me

This is me to a tee: despite it all, despite the rain and the sometimes unbelievable sadness, I'm still stargazing and searching for rainbows.  I'm hopeful that the next few months will help me find them. 

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1 comment:

  1. Love it Shanna! I think a reset sounds perfect, and if it happens to include some rest too, well, that is also perfect.