Wanderlust 108

Leave it to me, now that there are actual readers of this blog, to take a hiatus. It’s been back-to-school season (i.e. back-to-work season for teachers) and on top of everything, I’m teaching at a new school so…I hope you, dear readers I now (think) I’ve acquired, will understand!

But I, as usual, digress. What I really want to write about is this thing I did about ten days ago that I meant to write about nine days ago, but that now has added days of reflection and perspective to fuel this post. Ten days ago, I did something I never thought I would do – or would want to do. I did something that, just six months ago, would have made me laugh in your face – or cry out of frustration – if you told a recovering-from-a-broken-leg me I would do it.

Last Sunday, I ran a 5k.

And I did it in true yoga teacher style: as part of a “mindful triathlon” where I ran an untimed, noncompetitive 5k, took two yoga classes and meditated. I am excited to share the details of each part in this post.

I arrived in Prospect Park at 10am. While I am infamous amongst friends for having claimed that “I’m not outdoorsy enough for Brooklyn” (living in the PNW probably changed that), I had zero trouble finding my way to the event. Beginning in Manhattan, I was joined on the subway by hordes of yoga-mat-toting and sneaker-wearing participants. All I had to do was follow. It felt good to feel like one of many; this sensation was the general vibe of the day: rejoicing in multitudes doing their own thing, but together.

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The 5k itself was…hard, but great. I went at my own pace and made it feel as normal as possible. I’d been consciously training on a beginner’s training plan for six weeks. My physical therapist suggested I run to a metronome so I put on my Urban Ears just like I did when practicing on the Reservoir and Riverbank State Park and blasted Spotify Running. I also, it turned out, underestimated how long this 5k was (whoops…). Around the time I hit 3 miles, I walked for a minute…and I was in good company. I’m OK with that and that – that lack of perfectionism and an ability to be proud of effort – is major progress for me.

A dear friend met up with me as I rounded the bandshell. We took some time to explore the Wanderlust “Uncommons” together. A few summers ago, I was a volunteer at a full Wanderlust event at Squaw Valley. The fact that the Wanderlust team/corporation (I don’t mean that meanly, but they, I feel, are basically spokespeople for yogic consumerism) could make a one-day event in a park feel just as full and rich as their four-day events at ski lodges is seriously impressive. A few free tote bags, temporary tattoos and coupons later, I headed over to MC Yogi’s class on the lawn, which was followed by Dharma Mittra’s precise asana teaching.

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There is a saying that I love: “Don’t quit before the miracle.” Often, the miracle is the grounding of physical practices in meditation. This is to the masses that left once the yoga classes ended: DON’T QUIT BEFORE MEDITATION, PEOPLE. Sage Rountree, a fitness and life coach, flew to New York to teach us Metta – lovingkindness – meditation. It so happens to be my favorite kind of meditation. Running on a plethora of endorphins, practicing this kind of meditation amongst hundreds of people rather than on my own cushions, moved me deeply and offered up a different perspective on what is probably the only practice I don’t get a ton of professional guidance with. The whole day was like banging a tiny hammer on a glass. Cracks were made with each nudge. The meditation, I think, cracked me wide open.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that this year has been one heck of a journey – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When I suffered two open fractures and major surgery in December, I seriously started to doubt my physical capabilities for the future. I had a physical therapist (who I emailed on the train back from Brooklyn that Sunday) who believed in me. Six months after my surgery, she put me on a “Return to Running” plan to eliminate my last bit of atrophy – atrophy which was once so intense I could barely look at my leg without crying. The joke at the PT office when she put me on that plan was as follows.

PT: We’re going to put you on a Return to Running plan.

ME: Um…what am I returning to?

My sister reminded me that when she flew out to Portland to take care of a post-surgery immobile me, I was so frustrated with my inability to exercise that I told her I was going to run every day after “it was all over.” I likely said that without fully believing that day would come. She reminded me of that while I was training. One day, over frozen yogurt on the Upper East Side, she asked me, “What do you think of while you’re running?”

I think, “I can RUN!” I told her. Crack. That realization always made my eyes well up just a bit.

However, on my way out of Prospect Park, my eyes welled up quite a bit. Well, let’s face it, I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying until, like, I was halfway back to Harlem on the 2 train. My tears were a concoction of endorphins, gratitude, and relief.

So…thanks, Wanderlust 108, for making me cry a much-needed cry, and for creating the most chill event ever for my first 5k.

written from jivamuktea cafe with sheer glee after discovering the top secret spicy tempeh recipe

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