Why I don’t mind that “I’m (not) in it” for the 2011 New York City Marathon

I wasn’t sure how today was going to go when I woke up and found out that tonight’s spin class was already full before I got the chance to sign up, but things quickly started looking up when I didn’t have to work and got to go to the beach for the day. I’m not the biggest fan of the beach since it’s not quite the most accessible place in the world, but every now and then with my crutches I don’t mind.

I love the moments when I can just sit and stare out at the water and let the answers to my life’s questions float into me with the tide–and today just that happened.

Ha! Don't you wish CT beaches looked like this?? Photo: Carillon-Beach.com

I’ve obviously been doing a lot of thinking (and writing) about the things that make me happy and the things that I do for me, but I never really shared what led me to question that.  So, here’s a bit of the story…a few months back I became a member of Achilles International a group for people with disabilities who run, bike, do all sorts of sports.  I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but it sounded great. At the start, I got in touch with the head of the CT chapter of Achilles who told me about a handcycle (like a regular bike pretty much, but pedaled with your arms). We also talked about how the New York City Marathon has special spots for handcyclists/Achilles athletes. I was already getting my hopes up!

A few months later, I met Tony, an above knee amputee and all around great guy. He brought one of his handcycles for me to try out and it was pretty awesome. But let me tell you, these things are not for the faint of heart! They take some serious arm power.  I left that day feeling like I had made a pretty cool connection in the adaptive athletics world.

Tony and I right before trying out the handcycle

Fast forward to not getting a lottery pick for the 2011 NYCM and I wasn’t all that upset. Why? By the time I got home from that day, I knew the handcycle was awesome and that I liked it, but I had this tiny voice inside of my head and heart that was telling me it just wasn’t quite right for me. It wasn’t involving my legs enough, challenging them, or allowing me to tap into my true motivations.

In true Molly fashion, I ignored the voice and kept plugging along until I reached a point where that voice got so loud I could barely hear myself think. At that point, I removed myself from the 2 races I was scheduled to do with the handcycle, and went back to the drawing board.

What does all of this have to do with the beach? I’m almost there I promise. About 2 weeks ago, a friend (hey Lor! 🙂 ) approached me about helping to create an adaptive category for a 10k race she helps run in September for the Mari Hall Foundation. I jumped at the opportunity and immediately felt like everything was going to fall back into place.

What I’ve come to realize over the past few weeks is this: I don’t do races to win. I don’t even do them to place. Or for the attention, the one girl in the crowd who is overcoming this challenge known as CP. Because every single one of us has challenges; whether they’re visible or not. I do races because of the challenge; because of the mental and physical push it requires me to commit to as soon as I step on the start line and even before when I’m stretching and spinning and doing whatever else to get ready.

For me, the only way I know to tap into that challenge is on foot because, whether this is fair or not, I equate CP with my legs, not my brain. Actually, that’s not fair at all. Sorry legs, my bad!! And that’s why the handcycle didn’t feel quite right to me.

Okay, okay, back to the beach. Water. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately too. Many of you might know, how great water therapy is for people with various disabilities. Well in my own head and heart, I’m finally jumping on that bandwagon. (Sidenote: I can’t believe I even just thought, let alone wrote, this sentence given my previous detest/downright refusal to even try this for years!!) As I was watching my 2-year old niece play down by the water today, I swear I heard that same voice that told me the handcycle wasn’t right, tell me water was.

Here’s what I know:

  • I can’t “get out and train” everyday like many other runners/walkers/I don’t even know what category I consider myself do. It’s not ideal right now given that my streets have no sidewalks and tracks are freaking boring.
  • When you’re in the water, you tend to not feel fatigued as quickly, allowing you to possibly get more out of your exercise time.
  • Water holds you up, meaning that I can practice movements without worrying about falling over. Drowning? Eh, a friend once told me I have 4-5 minutes to be rescued if I drown. I’ll risk it.
  • I can walk in water. I mean really walk, without crutches or walker or anything. Do I really need to explain why this is a plus?! Come on! What are 90% of my post about? Okay, you may argue that I can totally do that on land too. I won’t disagree, it’s just way easier in water.

(Disclaimer: These aren’t facts. I’m just a 20 something blogger on a mission to make a change.)

So it looks like water will be another added method of training and therapy this summer. Thanks for sticking by me, and see you all out on the road.
Oh, and for those of you who are really good at reading between the lines: YES I’m doing a 10k in September; YES on foot; YES I already got the okay; and YES I know at least 3 people reading will try to convince me not to! Did I mention I’m really stubborn? 😉
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Dreams

I just got back from a weekend in Westport with the family and as I was laying on a beach way more beautiful than any Connecticut beach I’ve ever been to, this is what I was pondering.
I have this bookmark that my mom got me and on it, it says, “Believe in your dreams and anything is possible.” We all know that those ideations we have and those things we aspire to, we call them dreams and talk about them as fantasies, but I got to thinking: what exactly ARE dreams? Don’t get me wrong, I like a mystery of belief as much as the next person, but there are just so many possibilities here.
Let me precursor this whole topic by saying I’m a psychology major, so dreams and the mind are my “thing” through and through, but I’m also a Catholic who believes very strongly in my faith. It gets a bit dicey.
I know of two main explanations for what dreams really are. They come from the diciplines of science and faith; the two areas in which we all almost alway find ourselves spilt between.
In the world of science, dreams are easily explained. We all have an unconscious mind that we control, or at least keep at bay, when we are awake and alert. When we sleep and go into REM cycles, neurons starts firing like crazy and the unconscious becomes the context of our thoughts as we sleep, as we dream. Ramble, ramble, there’s much more psychobabble, but that’s most of it.
Now, in the world of faith and religion (or at least my own. I can’t speak for anyone else’s), the stuff of dreams is summed up in one sentence. They are messages from God that guide you through life. Be warned, just because this is a shorter explanation, doesn’t mean it’s any easier.
The question remains, where do I fall on this topic? How do I view dreams? The answer: I have no idea. I’m extremely torn in the world of dreams. I love them. I love the optimism of them, no matter which realm you view them from. I just don’t know quite where I stand.
What I do know is this. If you don’t have dreams, however you define them, it’s a scary world…and an even scarier sleep. Obviously, we dream hundreds of times a night, but the mornings I wake up and can’t remember any of them are some of my most annoying mornings. I view dreams as more pieces to fit in the puzzle of life. That includes the aspriations, hopes, and fantasties. They are the way to give me some answers that I just can’t come across when I am awake and going about my day. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t have anything.
What do dreams mean to you? How do you define them?