Monday, August 15, 2011

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder

Now that my summer job is over, I need to turn my brain to the next task: my PhD comprehensive exams, which are at the end of October (and 2 days before MCM). I did a lot of reading before I left for California, a bit during California, and now the challenge is to take on that second load. The book I am currently working on is on wonder, marveling, and miracles in the late Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and immediately preceding the Enlightenment.
Wonder! Wonder was positive - people were utterly fascinated with the unknown. There was not glaring suspicion or mistrust, but anticipation of the great beyond. This was particularly the case in the Middle Ages, as the Catholic Church was full of people devoted to various saint cults, which had their own sets of relics, cult sites, and various expression of piety. Then as time marched on into the early modern period (Renaissance/Reformation), the sense of wonder evolved as scientific discoveries were made.
However, as the Europeans approached the Enlightenment, the ideas of wonder and marveling were frowned upon - people wanted facts, not a suspension of belief.
The conclusion of the book offered some consolation, that there is still a sense of wonder in our world today, "We still crave wonders...we wait for the rare and extraordinary to surprise our souls."
I loved that.
I think wondering and craving wonders is important to have in our lives. When we as Catholics make our Confirmation, we learn that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of wonder. Wonder is truly a gift, and the desire to be surprised by the unknown drives us forward, I think.
I would like to think that wonder can factor into running. There are a lot of unknowns in running, especially distance running. You never know exactly how a long race is going to play out, even if you've been training for months or years. Workouts may be unpredictable too. Perhaps it is coming on the heels of a hard week, or it is a new set of interval, and you just do not know how it will go, yet on the other hand, cannot wait to try it out.
I've noticed that I have trouble getting to sleep on Monday nights, because that is the night before my track workouts. I get so excited about what I will be trying to accomplish in the morning, that I cannot seem to calm myself down enough to fall asleep. Even if I try to go to bed early, I am just unsettled and ready for the next day, that is a long time before I fall asleep.
This was my task for this morning - are you surprised I was up late thinking about it last night?

2.5 mile warm-up; 6 x 150 meter strides; 2000 meter cut-down, start at 7:05 pace and cut down a bit each lap. 2 lap jog. 6 x 800 meters. Start at 3:24 and cut down 2-3 seconds each interval. 1 lap jog between intervals. 2.5 mile cool-down. Total: 11 miles

I got through the 2k cutdown in 8:11 (last year, I was happy to get through it in 8:59), knocking off about a second per lap. Then the 2 lap recovery jog was enough to clean the slate, and make me feel like I was starting fresh all over again. I felt a bit warm, but not too hot. 3:23 for the first 800, and I could not believe how fresh I felt. Really? A year ago, that wouldn't have felt comfortable. And so it continued. Each one just kept flying by. By the time I would start to feel uncomfortable, I would only have 200-300 meters to go. I knew the last one would be hard, but I just took a deep breath, hopped around to shake out the nerves, and then was off. With 200 meters to go, I knew I was going to succeed in my workout, and when I crossed the finish line, I was grinning from ear to ear.
3:23, 3:21, 3:18, 3:15, 3:12, 3:09 for the 800s.
I couldn't help but be filled with wonder and joy. As I was looking through my notes from last year, it was clear that there was a difference. Not only were my times better this time, but I just felt better throughout the whole thing. It was a great way to start the day.
And I do have to include the link to "I hope you dance" - one of my favorite songs, hence the lyric as the title of this post.
I hope you can find wonder and awe in your day, too.

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