Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RUNNING IS GREAT

"Running is great, my friend."
~ E. Ward


I have this friend, let's call her Chicken.  We met back in 2015 at a Oiselle running camp.  Our friendship was instant and though we don't live in the same area, we talk and see each other enough that I've continued to grow closer to her year after year.  We have a lot in common.  We're both 42.  We're both marathoners, though Chicken is a quite a bit faster than me.  We're both competitive, mostly with ourselves.  And we're both ready and willing both to laugh at and make fun of ourselves, particularly in front of a crowd; this being one of the main things that brought us together in the first place. (see above pic)  Last time we hung out, at NEBirdcamp 2017 this past June, we tossed around the idea of running a marathon together at some point.  We have similar goals and we'd like to hit them sooner rather than later.  Why not go for it together?  But, then we're both stupidly busy and have totally different personal agendas and so on and so forth.  So, when we said our goodbyes we hadn't really landed on anything other than "let's think about it".  And that might take a while.  In the meantime, I suggested that we get some virtual training in together over the summer.  We couldn't actually do our long runs and workouts together, but we could check in with each other before and after for pep talks and assessments.  For this, she was in.  I sent her my training plan so she could get on the same track as me moving forward.  Weeks passed, maybe a month, and I hadn't heard from her.  Not a big big deal, but I was eager to see if she'd started in on her summer training so we could compare notes.  I reached out last week to see what was up.  She apologized and in so many words told me she'd been under a rock in many different areas of her life lately and was struggling to catch up and, ultimately, to rise above it. I told her that an apology wasn't necessary, that life is unpredictable and that I'd just wanted to touch base because it had been a while.  So, we caught each other up on our lives, eventually landing on our running.  She asked me how my training was going, knowing that I'm gearing up for an October race.  Here's how our conversation unfolded:

ME: I'm starting to get nervous about all the training that's coming up.  So much f***ing mileage.  Do me a favor and remind me every once in a while that I can deal with it.  Sometimes I forget.

Chicken: You can do the mileage.  That's the damn easy part.  It's just the time.  The running itself is so great.

Me: True.  But motivation gets hard.  I keep coming back to your speech... (one she made at our last Birdcamp about training for the Olympic marathon trials qualifier)....and hearing your brother say, "she's working so hard.  What if she doesn't get it??!!"

Chicken: I love to run.  Sometimes I dislike it when life gets hard or I'm working a ton.  But running is great, my friend.

Me: Yes.  You're so right. But...

Chicken: Running is so fun, Trax.  Wish I could run with you right now.

Me: If only.  

Chicken: Here's the thing Trax:
If our fast running were to go to pieces....we'd still see each other dozens of times over the years.... we'd still be great friends....I'd still love and respect you....I'd still know how kind and smart you are...

Me: I'm actually a really good dancer, too.  You really haven't seen my moves yet.

We talked a lot more after that but this particular part of the conversation really stuck with me.  Maybe Chicken and I will run a marathon together.  Maybe we won't.  It doesn't matter, really.  Because in the end, running will still be awesome and we will still be friends.  Looking ahead to my next race, I might hit my goal and I'll be thrilled and life will be great.  But, I might not hit my goal and that will be a bummer and life will still be great.  My friends aren't going to like me less because I didn't hit my goal.  And regardless, I'll still be running.  Because it feels good and because it makes me happy.  And my times?  They have nothing to do with any of it.  It only took her three different attempts to get her point across.  But, I finally got it.  I get it.  You're the best, Chicken.

Listen to this:
Perspective - Until the Ribbon Breaks

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MY CHOICE


Last Friday was NUTS.  I got up around 6:00am, made coffee and hustled out the door because I had to get the dog out for a decent walk before the day unfolded and she was potentially ignored.  Around 7:15, I woke my 10 year old up to get her ready for camp.  I had to get her fed, screened up and packed by 8:00 to get her off to the bus on time.  After seeing her off, I had to bang out a 10 miler, my first of two runs for the day.  An hour an a half later, I made a feeble attempt to stretch and then quickly washed my face before rushing out the door again.  I had to get over the post office to mail my 12 year old the shower caddy that she'd forgotten to pack.  I also had to go to CVS to grab her a fresh toothbrush and some soap, and, of course, I picked up a few odds and ends (stickers, hair ties, magazines) to throw in the package because I'd be a pretty lame mom if I mailed just the shower caddy with nothing else.  After that, I had to beeline it back home so I could shovel a couple pieces of cold pizza into mouth and attempt to digest them before gearing up for run #2.  Unfortunately, my window was shorter than I'd have liked (I probably spent too much time in the aisles of CVS, dammit), and therefore I had to gather all my stuff and get going again.  I had about an hour and a half before I needed to be at my younger daughter's Spirit Assembly, an event that I'd missed a good portion of the week before and for which I was given the hairy eyeball.  I decided to drive over to camp, park in the lot and run from there to eliminate any risk of being late.  Right after lunch and just before I was getting ready to leave I had a little moment where I kind of unraveled a bit.  My mother-in-law asked me if I was okay.

I responded with something like, Yes.  I'm fine, thanks.  Just tired.  I'd really hoped to take a nap at some point today but I just can't squeeze it in.  I really don't have much energy for this second run but I have to get going if I'm going to make it to Grace's assembly on time.

To which she responded, But it is your choice, Rebecca.  You don't have to do it.  You choose to do it.  Right?

I looked up and smiled.  Right, I said.  You're totally right.

Okay, so I'm going to re-phrase my entire blog post with this conversation in mind.  Here goes.

Last Friday was crazy but awesome.  I woke up at 6:00am, made some coffee and quietly slipped out the door to walk my dog.  I had about 45 minutes to soak up the morning before the rest of the day unfolded.  Around 7:15, I woke my 10 year old and helped her get ready for camp.  I sat and drank a second cup of coffee with her as she ate her breakfast, something I rarely get to do during the school year because we don't have enough time.  After I dropped her off, I hit the road for an easy 10 miler, my first of two runs for the day.  About an hour and a half later, I got home and stretched, washed my face and regrouped (showers are overrated) before heading back out to hit CVS and the post office.  My mother-in-law needed to go to both as well, so she joined me and we made a stop at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow for iced mochas (beyond insane) before starting our errands.  We both have a weird obsession with greeting cards and spent a little extra time in the Hallmark aisles of CVS laughing at all the funny, dumb, gross cards they had to offer (I bought three, she bought one).  After that, we made our way back home for some lunch, which we enjoyed together as we made plans for the rest of the day.  She was coming to Grace's spirit assembly with me but I needed to get a quick run in beforehand so we decided to take separate cars.  I opted to run from camp for a change of scenery and ended up on really nice, shaded, and gloriously flat rail trail for my six miler.  It was gorgeous and I was totally rejuvenated when I was done.  I toweled off and changed in my car before heading up to camp for the spirit assembly; on time to boot.  I caught Grace looking around and then breaking into a big smile as I made it over to her group for awards.  We listened to announcements and songs and then said our goodbyes to friends and went for ice cream, which I was equally excited about, maybe more so.  I was so pumped that I'd been able to make it all work and could relax and enjoy the rest of the day with Grace.


Shout out to my mother-in-law for reminding me that I do, in fact, make my own choices.  That I choose to do both what I need to do and what I want to do.  And that I'm ridiculously lucky that I can fit my own agenda in around all the other things in my life that are undeniably more important.

Listen to this:
Trippin' by Sir Sly