Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Trail Running at Clergy Conference

This week was Clergy Conference at Shrine Mont.  The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is pretty large, and a few years ago, they started expanding conference to lay professionals as well as clergy.  Some people also come with spouses.  It means there are several hundred of us to house, so they like to haul us off to a place called Shrine Mont, where we have a large camp in the mountains. 

I have had a difficult relationship with Shrine Mont.  10 years ago, when I first went there, I was a staunch vegetarian.  They are really good at Southern cooking there.  I was miserable.  That first time, the only vegetarian options were salad greens and rolls.  I was so hungry, I actually stopped at the first McDonald's I passed on the way home, and bought a FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH, and ate it, crying a little from hungry and misery and not a little bit of horror at how far I'd fallen.  

Over the years, I developed a truce with Shrine Mont.  I'd bring a cooler full of rations, and agree to play nicely. 

My, how things have changed. 

This was the first year I did NOT have to dip into my own rations (which I still brought for safety's sake), and actually went away from dinner feeling full.  

Granted, it is a little easier as I'm eating some meat right now.  I feel really weird saying that I can't eat dairy, and while I felt OK saying I chose to be vegetarian, I'm afraid to claim that right now now because I don't want to be the prima donna.  I suppose I could just say I've gone vegan, but I've found that if one has a food allergy, one needs to be very direct.  I can't cloak it under "vegan" because A) it's not honest, and B) the chefs won't understand that I really *CAN'T* have dairy, and they might not know that they need to keep the dairy out to keep me safe.  

It means I ate a LOT of meat.  Wowsers.  

For a decent workout, my best clergy friend and I walked to The Cross, a big cross build into a fire watch tower up the hill.  

Eventually, she headed back down the short path for a nap.  But I saw an inviting path and decided to walk the longer path down…  Then I decided it looked fun enough to try and RUN!  

(Oh, look, I discovered a random feature on my phone camera.  Oops.)

I am reminded that I really like trail runs.  I had a BLAST.  I think the trails occupy my mind and body in a way that road running just doesn't.  I'm constantly thinking about the best line to run or where to conserve energy for a burst up that next rise, or to watch out for the rocks.  So my whole mental self gets consumed in the energy of the running. 

This conference, which had a huge plenary session about reducing anxiety in our leadership styles, was actually making me acutely anxious.  It was hard to leave Virginia 6 ½ years ago, and there is still someone here with whom I had a very poor ending to a relationship, and I have to admit that running into that person reactivated some of my trauma that I thought I'd put to bed.  

I think running that trail consumed my energy so completely that I wasn't able to dwell on my frustration with that person, and instead helped me reprocess the trauma and grief and anger until I was my normal mellow self.  

The funny thing is that I actually brought my running belt, but hadn't planned on THIS run (I just brought my gear figuring I should do A run sometime), so I had a small bag, a regular water bottle, and a shirt to carry- I felt a little silly running with all that stuff!

I'm following the Run the Edge program, which is set up like a game board.  So instead of a plan with spreadsheets (which I do enjoy, often!), it's a program where you gain points before progressing to the next level.  If you don't get enough points in a week, you stay at the level you are at until you get enough points.  So you don't "Level Up" until your body is ready. I think it will help me free myself from feeling that I have to be going X fast because it's Week Z, and instead help me be more flexible.   I'm hoping this helps me become a better and faster runner, overall. 

As far as the healing goes… I've been feeling pretty good.  I forgot my medicine when I went to Shrine Mont, and it is interesting to see how much of a difference it makes.  It's interesting to remember what it was like to have strong recoveries and easy runs after a year of being so beat up that I'd almost forgotten what being healthy felt like.  

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