So there I was last Friday night, after 3 glasses of wine, thinking that it would be a great idea to enter a running race the following day. Sure I am fairly fit, I can jog around a 10km flat route no problems and I swim a couple of times a week....ah yeah no problem, sign me up, and it's in glendalough? Wow my favourite place, yes please!
Saturday morning it didn't feel like such a good idea. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth with dehydration, my head was banging and I felt quite groggy. What on earth had I signed up for?
Too late now. I was picked up and headed off downing as many coffees as I could....and jellies, packets of jellies. That didn't help much when we arrived and I saw all the serious athletes, stretching and warming up... I downed another coffee and nervously waited.
Soon we were on the start line and I was determined to at least enjoy my crazy decision. The route was over the most beautiful part of Glendalough, every twist and turn revealed stunning scenery and the peace and calm in the area was palpable. However, I had conveniently forgotten that it's also very very hilly! Thankfully I didn't know too much about the route as I would never have started but I knew all about it after 1 km when we went up...and up....and up. I was walking and panting and regretting the wine .... everyone was passing me and I felt quite sorry for myself. An internal voice was telling me to stop this madness, to go back to the car, have a nice walk around this stunning scenery, go for a coffee, do some meditation and wait for my lift to come back. I was so close to going with that voice, I mean I was only really there because I love the place and I don't need to be torturing myself on a Saturday morning, yes I had lots of reasons to stop.
Then I heard another voice say....you can do it Ellen, one step at a time, stay in the moment, look around you, appreciate the views, you can do it. Ok ok, one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other. Then we reached the waterfall and the steps....aka the torture treadmill
About 100 of these things, I nearly cried. Keep going Ellen, one foot in front of the other. I somehow got to the top thinking I'd get some relief but we turned left and the path inclineds upwards and upwards again. Whatttt???
Then something clicked......I knew I had a choice. I could stop or I could choose to continue. I chose the latter, calmed myself down, stopped trying to chase everyone else and tuned into my body. I slowed my running to a crawl and gave myself permission to walk when I needed to, I decided to appreciate every small little thing that I saw, to have banter with my fellow sufferers and to celebrate every single time my garmin buzzed to tell me I'd completed another km. I applied everything that I have learnt from mindfulness, everything about being in the moment, breathing, being aware of my body and tuning into nature.
And then a funny thing happened, I started to enjoy myself! The scenery took my breath away I loved it, so much so that as I was looking up at the trees in admiration, my foot got caught in a fallen branch and I ended up face down in a pile of bog! Not so glamorous but it made me giggle and I got rescued by 2 lovely men who literally had to haul me out.
I did it! I finally fell over the line, covered in muck, blood, sweat and tears thrilled with myself and deeply appreciative of mindfulness being in my life. It took every ounce of my being to get me through all 15.5km's but I did it and I was thrilled. (the picture below is before my fall!)
Reflecting back on it now, I am grateful for the experience, for the special place that is Glendalough and I have vowed never ever to make another decision after 3 glasses of wine! However I know that no matter how bad the suffering is, mindfulness will get me through.
Next Mindfulness Course starts Monday 15th Jan. Click here for more info