Friday, May 24, 2019

Grace and Racing

Last year on Mother’s Day I ran my first marathon. I was a little disappointed: not really because I had expected to run it faster, but because it wasn’t really fun. That is, there were no moments that stood out for me. I know why: it was completely my fault for taking a load of emotional baggage along with me for the full 26 mile run. I had a spirit animal last year who ran with me and who personified me: Mrs.Tiggywinkle is a short, stout, prickly hedgehog who keeps a clean house and takes in laundry. I had taken in way too much laundry last year, and during the three weeks before the marathon instead of tapering and trying to gain strength and revitalize after months of training, I spent my time cleaning, cooking, and taking care of other peoples’ business.

This year, I’m running as a human. My spirit animal may be a donkey, as I am stubborn and strong. I’ve been training since December 2018, every month, every week, but not every day. I ran through the winter, and it was a doozy this year. We had snow, rain, ice, freezing rain, ice pellets, and everything in between. Temperatures hovered between -25 and +10 for most of the five months I trained. I put screws in my shoes and bought ice cleats. I ran a half marathon in deep snow and got my slowest time ever. 

“Fitness is classist AF,” wrote a young relative of mine. Certainly, what we understand to be Fitness is a privilege exercised by a small group of wealthy people. Pun intended. But we were born to run. Humans were made to use their bodies. We were made to sweat, and feel our muscles, and push our physical limits, and we were also made with an urge to play. 

I love going out to play. I am so grateful that my body is healthy enough that I can go outside and run around, for twenty minutes, for an hour, or for almost a whole day. I am always aware that I am privileged: I have a body that functions, and I can spare the time to run with no particular place to go.

This year, my dedication to training my body for this race has led me to understand some techniques for running, and also some techniques for living.
1. big things can be broken down into little things: one step at a time
2. a lot of stuff just isn’t that important
3. love is all we have
4. you never know what might happen
5. smile
6. drink water
7. be grateful
8. always bring a hanky
9. talk little, breathe deep, tie your shoes well
10. laugh at yourself

And finally, you need to learn to submit - to surrender - swim upstream by going around the obstacles instead of using all your energy to fight them. Grace is a wonderful characteristic to explore.

I’m hoping to finish this marathon in less time than my last. I’m hoping to finish. I’m keeping some people in my heart as I run the last five miles or so: Becky is my cousin, and her body is hard to use. She has cerebral palsy and eats twice as much as me just to do a simple day. She perseveres and doesn’t need help, and she’s one of the people I am in awe of.
My friend Perse is an athlete and survived a particularly rare and vicious type of cancer. She’s my oldest friend (over fifty years and counting!). She is enthusiastic, tough, and just doesn’t let anything push her around.
My friend Syd fought an addiction and won. She spends her life putting love into the world. 
Kimberley is my running  buddy. When we run, we talk. We weave and untangle, laugh and analyze. Agree and build. I hope she’ll be running next to me for many years to come!
I hope that these strong women will be beside me when I am pushing through those last kilometers. 
See y'all ‘round the bend! I will definitely let you know how the cookie crumbles!