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Monday, March 10, 2008

Runner's High

I had a long day today, after a long weekend of studying. Got up early, class from 8-12 then from 1230-1330. Mondays kill me, they start early and hard with Jackie's Physiology class, our most difficult of the four we are taking this term. They usually follow a long weekend of sleeping in and studying a lot, trying to prepare for class Monday so the entire lecture doesn't go over my head. Today it did anyway, and I was not the only one. The level of detail we are supposed to know on so little lecture is astounding. Plus, we got our midterms back from last week, and yes, I did pass, but my grade hardly reflected how hard I studied for the exam, nor did it reflect what I had felt was my understanding of the materiel. But, to make us all feel a little better, she told us the other class she is teaching, which is ARNP students, did much worse on their first exam (which is essentially the same) and on their second. So, I don't know what to make of all that.

I had to leave Principles early to go to an appointment with a new nurse practitioner that will be my primary care provider in Spokane. She was fantastic. Her name is Teresa Colley and she was very thorough and personable and kind. I was impressed by the level of her knowledge and she treated each of the problems I presented (just two) with a good mix of practicality and thoroughness that I liked. Her clinic is Grace Clinic in Spokane, and it is a ARNP-only practice that she appears to own. (A relative of hers is the office manager, I think it might be her sister but I'm not certain.) I like the seriousness and concern for exhausting all avenues that I get from nurse practitioners, and I like supporting advanced practice nursing, especially since I am working towards that goal myself. It is tough being a licenced independent provider in a world owned by doctors, especially in a town like Spokane, which is surprisingly unfriendly to advanced practice nurses, given the number of masters programs it has.

So, after all of that, I went to the Y to do my run, at minimum. I'm still sort of making all this up as I go along. I do know that I want to continue to increase the amount of time I can run in a stretch, and eventually the speed, and I want to avoid injuring myself in the process. I make little deals with myself as I go along. Today my deal came at the start of my third running interval: if I did 5 minutes consecutively for the last one, I was done. If I only did 4, I would have to do another 2 minute interval to finish. I was proud that I ended up doing the first one of 7 minutes, walked 5, ran 5, walked 4, and ran 5. 17 total minutes I have done before, but that 7 minute initial stretch was great. I felt a little emotional after it was over. I thought about where I was last year at this time, waiting for surgery and worried that it might not work at all. I was working out already and had been for a year, and frankly I thought I was doing pretty well. I was doing 45-60 minutes of cardio 5 days a week. But it was at a much lower intensity than I am doing now. Today I marveled that I am able to run at all, and I don't want to die at the end of it. I felt grateful to my lap band, and grateful to myself for improving my life the way I have in the past year. I thought about it a little bit in terms of a dharma, or lesson of wisdom, about running from pain versus accepting it and running anyway. Pain and pleasure are opposites that rule our lives these days, and obsession with both--avoiding pain, seeking pleasure--only causes more suffering for ourselves and those around us. Here I was, running when I could be sitting on my couch (I could even be reading my many textbooks and making myself feel good for the decision), and while I can't say that I was loving every minute of it, I was certainly loving the fact that I could do it at all, that I didn't want to die the whole time, and that it was changing my body and helping me become healthy enough to do the things I want and need to do with my life. I thought about my life today versus 6 months ago--I am out of the ICU forever, in graduate school, much thinner, and really relishing my life, as frustrating as it can be sometimes in its circumstances. I'm sure endorphins had something to do with all of this gratitude, but maybe that's part of why people get addicted to running in the first place.

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