A Week of “Life on Life’s Terms”

It’s been a long week. My mother-in-law died on Monday. She had stayed with my brother-in-law and his family out of state for the past few months because they could provide her with round-the-clock care in their home. She had Alzheimer’s, a horrific disease. The cause of death was pneumonia. Thankfully, at the time of her death she still knew her children and daughters-in-law.

Her remains had to be brought back to Nashville. I’ve never before dealt with such an issue and while everything happened seamlessly, I found many things to worry about. And I had many opportunities to turn my worries over to my Higher Power.

By Tuesday night, family from out of state began rolling into town. On Wednesday these wonderful family members, my husband, and I tackled a massive clean-up project at my mother-in-law’s house. It was good to pull together and focus on a task. I hadn’t seen my husband’s nephews and niece since they were children. They are all adults now and several of them have children of their own. While the circumstances surrounding the reunion were sad, it was wonderful to get re-acquainted.

The visitation at the funeral home took place on Thursday afternoon/evening. The funeral and internment were on Friday.

I don’t want you to think that the events of the week were less important than my fitness journey. On the contrary, the theme of today’s post is “life on life’s terms.” As important as my food plan and exercise schedule are to me, there are times when I choose not to make them my priority. This week was such a time. But mine is a fitness blog, so what follows is my sharing along that topic.

While I was able to stay on my food plan through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were a different story. For the visitation on Thursday I had packed a light meal, plus a neighbor provided a healthy dish to be shared with family in the funeral home’s kitchen. But there was no time for me to sneak out and have my meal. Friend after friend arrived to pay their respects, and I simply wanted to be present to greet everyone. I didn’t view this as a problem. Our family was surrounded with love. How in the world could that be a problem? So on Thursday I opted to be flexible and I ate fewer meals and larger portions at each.

On Friday I went for long periods without eating. I had a very light snack in the car as we drove from the funeral home to the cemetery. Members of my Sunday School class provided a delicious meal for the family to have following the burial. My husband and I needed to drive back to the funeral home after the burial to pick up the plants people sent us. I was famished by the time we arrived at my mother-in-law’s house for the meal.

Believe me, no one can put together a fantastic post-funeral spread like a bunch of Southern Baptists. Because I’m sugar-free I stayed away from all of the desserts (but trust me, the other family members didn’t let those go to waste). I ate larger portions than I am used to, but I ate fewer meals that day. And some of my selections were of the “on special occasions” variety.

While on bereavement leave I chose not to wake up at 4 a.m. When my dad died I had trouble sleeping at first. I anticipated my husband would have trouble sleeping this week. If he happened to be asleep at 4 a.m. I didn’t want my alarm to wake him. I got to the gym Wednesday and Thursday. I had good workouts that took the edge off of some of the stress. I opted not to work out on Friday because doing so would have meant a 4 a.m. wake up in order to arrive on time for the funeral.

Today my half marathon training schedule called for an 8-mile run. I had committed to helping my husband with more clean-up at his mom’s house. I told my mom I would help her with an errand after that. Then I went to the grocery store. By 2 p.m. I was exhausted and I had not yet had my training run. My legs felt like led and I thought I could go to sleep at any minute. I briefly entertained the thought of waiting until tomorrow to run, but we are expecting thundershowers and I refuse to run 8 miles on the “dreadmill.” So off I ran.

The first 2.25 miles were in an awful headwind. I felt like Dorothy trying to make it to the storm cellar. My pace was slow from the wind and fatigue. My mind kept telling me to stop and walk. Every time I thought I was about to find my rhythm and pick up the pace, I realized I just couldn’t. A good run just wouldn’t be possible today. I normally enjoy running but today I absolutely hated it until….

By the time I hit the 6.5 mark I checked my gps watch and it appeared that with some hard effort I could finish with almost as good a finishing time as the last time I ran an 8 miler (March 13). On that run I shaved 15 minutes off my previous 8-mile time.

Somehow I picked up the pace for the last 1.5 miles. When I returned home I check my training log. Today’s run was only FOUR SECONDS slower than the March 13 effort. While runners always want to improve, I choose to be proud of what I did today. On March 13 I wasn’t fatigued and I don’t recall dealing with a gale-force wind for the first 2.25.

While my fitness journey is very important to me, I never want to become so militant about it that I miss out on once-in-a-lifetime moments. I had many such moments this week. I ended the week without using any addictive substances to take the edge off of the stress. I was completely present and accessible to those who needed me. During this week that was enough.

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