Tag Archives: courage

Physical Strength for My Broken Places

Perhaps strength doesn’t reside in having never been broken, but in the courage required to grow strong in the broken places. ~Kristen Jongen

Compassionate Friends is pretty active on Facebook where it posts words of advice and comfort for bereaved parents.  Recently it asked its members what they feel when someone comments on how strong they are.  One of the responses is the above quote.  It resonates with me.   I’m making my way through my journey which includes growing strong in my broken places.  And then there are the days and moments when I feel beyond broken.

I believe strength comes in several forms: emotional, spiritual, mental and physical.  I’ve mentioned these four types before.  From training and racing, I feel myself growing stronger physically as each day passes.  During my low-beyond-broken-periods, I believe it’s this physical strength that helps me with or, at the very least, provides temporary fillers in some of my broken places.

As odd as it may sound, I like to think Noah is helping me with my broken places since he gives me strength as I train and race.  He is my inspiration after all.

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Interval Training Raises the Question – Am I Strong Enough?

Bike Interval Training sessions include drills such as:

  • Work in 4 x 3:00 up-tempo efforts at 80-85% effort and 85-90 RPM’s. Spin easy for 3:00 between efforts.
  • Work in 4 x 2:00 efforts at 80-85% effort and 85-90 RPM’s. Spin easy for 2:00 between efforts.

Interval Training for Running includes drills such as:

  • 4 x 400 – descend 1-4 – run at 80-85% effort – easy 400 jog between. (3:00); 1 x 1/2 mile – Run at 80-85% effort! Work it and negative split! Finish strong! Easy jog for 400 after effort. 2 x 400 – descend 1-2 – run at 85%+ – easy 400 jog between (3:00).
  • descending ladder, 40 minutes total.  All intervals are vo2 max, 98% max heart rate. 5 minutes (4 min Active Recovery); 5 minutes (4 min Active Recovery); 4 min (3 min); 4 min (3 min); 3 min (2 min); 3 min.

Interval training is an effective way to improve speed, endurance, cadence and lactate threshold. Midway through my triathlon season last year I incorporated it into my training plan when I joined my local tri-club’s track workouts which focus solely on interval training.  At Nation’s I ended up shaving almost 90 seconds off my running pace.  I know this major improvement is from all of these workouts.  (Training with others helped as well.)

I continue to participate in group track workouts this season.  I also incorporate interval training into my other disciplines.  During these specific workouts, especially on the bike and my runs I connect with Noah on a somewhat different level.  I obtain an unbelievable amount of strength, inspiration and comfort from him which enables me to push myself so much harder during these sessions.

Interestingly, though, just over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced something very different. During these particular sessions (mainly on the bike), I’ve found myself crying.  Tears just flow, and at least once during each session, my cries turn into flat-out heavy sobbing.  Sometimes they’re like bursts of emotions quickly flowing out and other times they outlast the drill.  Oddly I don’t stop my workout; somehow I just keep going.  I’ve noticed that as I push myself sadness, disappointment and guilt strongly and quickly emerge all at once.  I feel as though I could never push myself hard enough to go fast enough, far enough or move my heart rate high enough.  And I can’t even articulate what “enough” is!  It’s almost like I realize I will never be as strong as Noah. I won’t ever be as courageous as my sweet, beautiful son.  No matter how hard and deep I dig down – and oh my goodness I really do work at this! –  my strength and courage are mere specks compared to what he embodies.  And if this is the case am I good enough for him?  Am I worthy enough to be the mother of a 32 day old boy who had the amazing strength and courage to deal with numerous cardiac arrests, open heart surgery, ECMO, other major procedures and way too much poking and sticking?  Do I deserve the love he’s brought into my little life?

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe I am much stronger now than I was before God blessed me and MLH with Noah.  I’m much stronger physically.  I’m much stronger mentally.  I’m much stronger spiritually.  And I have to believe someday I’ll be much stronger emotionally.  I may not be as strong as him and perhaps I never will be.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be ok with this reality; will the guilt, disappointment and sadness from this ever go away?  I guess all I can do is continue to find strength, courage and inspiration from him and the short life he lived.

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The First Anniversary

Noah passed away one year ago today.  On that day my world turned into complete chaos.  I felt a pain I’d never felt before.  A void filled me with a great deal of heaviness.  And my heart broke.

Anticipating the first anniversary of Noah’s death has been stressful.  I’ve been dreading this day.  I was scared of what this day would bring.

MLH and I did plan for this day though.  We’re advised not to let key dates such as this one just “happen” upon us.  Part of our plan was to run together and dedicate the run to Noah.  So this morning at 5:16 am we did just that.

As I started running I began thinking about Noah.  Focusing on his strength and courage always inspires me.  His tiny, young, precious body endured so much; way too much for anybody, really.  For only about one hour of his life was he free of IVs, monitors, lines and connections to other medical devices.  He underwent four major medical procedures including surgery on his heart!   I began pushing myself a little harder and faster.  My heart rate climbed.  The next thing I knew, I was done.  It was a good run, especially given that my ankle is not 100% yet.  I felt pretty strong.

So far today has not turned out to be what I was expecting.  I guess I really didn’t know what to expect.  If anything I thought I’d experience something similar to what I went through yesterday.  I don’t feel good but I don’t feel like I did yesterday.  I admit I cried a couple of times already today but they felt almost like productive yet gentle cries.  I think I even felt a little better afterwards.  I don’t know why today is going the way it is.  I’d like to think it’s because I had a nice run with my son first thing this morning.  Yeah, I like that explanation; I’m sticking to it.

We bought this candle to light on his birthday and today.

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