I usually write about all things God related, but today I am going off script.
Seriously? Everything is God-related – have you not been reading all my other posts? Gheese.
That obvious baiting intro aside, in exactly 12 days, I will know if I qualified for the Boston Marathon.
Under the heading of “Write what you know,” I know about running.
I know it’s a constant love-hate relationship. I know there are times when I am running so well that I am almost gliding, my feet light and my cares even lighter. During those times, there is nothing I’d rather be doing than what I am doing exactly in the moment: living, breathing, moving…feeling. And I also know the next time I lace up my shoes it may not feel like that at all.
Once in the middle of a long run, I began chastising myself during the inevitable running brain conversation that plays on loop. Paraphrasing, it went something like this:
“You are an idiot. Why are you still doing this?”
I got mad at the one of my many selves taunting me with those words and began to run faster to shut out the noise.
Only my calf cramped up and my leg buckled. I looked like a moronic Gumby as I face planted, all the while the voice, itself an idiot, was now laughing as if to say, “See?”
Yet even though there are days when I think I should take up knitting as my newfound hobby, I would be lost without running.
The me that is me would no longer function as I was made to function. And even though it is often an up and down, love-hate, PR (personal record) – the 6-hour-limit bus picks you up kind of relationship, without it I would be empty.
I know that’s what keeps me coming back. The fight. The struggle. The work. The reward. To me, there is no greater parallel to our human relationships than training for a race.
-Some mornings when my alarm goes off at 4:10am, I want to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t matter.
-Some runs are so hard, so taxing, I want to give up and walk away.
-Some stretches are so boring, I want to run in the opposite direction towards a better view (or at least no wind).
-Some workouts I nail, hitting the assigned pace without much effort and actually enjoying it.
-Some runs aren’t what I planned at all, but they turn out ok anyway given the conditions and the company.
Training, and running in general, is so up and down it’s not even funny.
What it is, however, is part of the gig. Part of the commitment.
The commitment I made to myself back in 2008 was that I was going to start running on a regular basis in order to have some “me” time. Olivia was getting older, I was in a crappy unloving marriage, and the bottom line is I needed something to get through those tough times and running seemed like a better option than many alternatives.
Non-runners (or, ex-husbands) are often non-understanding about the time commitment running entails. I used to feel guilty about that. Not anymore.
(I’m sorry, but women apologize too much for needing things.)
The last and only time I’ve ever run the Boston Marathon was in 2014, which was a year after the bombings. I trained hard to qualify; I trained even harder to PR on that course. At mile 9 – which was far enough in to realize that course is a BEAST – I came upon another runner who was crying. Her name was Michelle and I will never forget her.
She proceeded to tell me she had been at mile 25 the year before and was terrified to continue running. Flashbacks and memories and pain and anguish and grief were weighing her down emotionally, which immediately translates into taking a physical toll as we all know – runner or not.
So I walked with her. And talked with her. And was in relationship alongside her for almost 17 more miles until I lost her in the giant crowd near the finish.
Spending time with a total stranger that day was the ultimate reward for the fight, the struggle, the work.
While we did not know each other personally, we knew each other even more intimately as part of God’s collective (ha! suckers) community. Running bonded us and no terrorist act could unbreak our resolve or commitment to an even greater devotion: humanity.
We were two people coming together to share in each other’s pain and triumphs, walking (yeah…actually mostly walking) alongside each other bearing the burden of life and 26.2 miles.
That day, human being trumped human doing.
Running Boston, the mother of all marathons, made me realize yet again that my brain equates the ups and downs and beauty and complexity and difficulty and glory of human relationships with running – the exact thing that has gotten me through all of them.
No wonder I am so passionate about it.
But being human – forgiving myself, pushing myself, accepting myself no matter the outcome – is what keeps me coming back.
Now, for the love of all things holy, let’s just see if I can get back to BOSTON.