Saturday, June 6, 2015

All in, All out, On the Sidelines

I've been benched. No running for the better part of the summer. As usual, my timing is impeccable. And since I'm no longer running my angst and blues and words and time and ice cream away, it means I should probably start writing again. Quickly.

The onset of this particular stress fracture and running hiatus happens to coincide with my son's first major soccer tournament. Awesome.

I'd like to say I'm still totally zen on the sidelines, but at 9 am this morning my voice could be heard bellowing across the pitch at my son.

"When the goalie comes out of the box like that, RUN THROUGH HIM!"

Ummmmm. Sorry, opposing team goalie's mom. If it's any consolation, my son weighs all of 20 pounds soaking wet so he would mostly just waft across the keeper like a dandelion seed. But also, he'd score a goal. And that's really what I was going for in that little tidbit of advice I offered.

The boys lost that game. And you'd never know it from their faces. I love the half smile, tongue hanging out, crazy-eyed face my son makes when the ball is at his feet. I love watching him play.

But I miss having my own game to play. I miss the joy of running through a rain shower, the relief of nailing a final 800m rep, the satisfaction of sore legs, the high of a breakthrough race, even the low of a disappointing finish.

I don't want to live vicariously. I just want to live. To get out there and run things down and over and away. 

But I won't be benched forever. I'll be back in the game eventually. In the meantime, I'm determined to enjoy this season on the sidelines, cheering for the people I love. (I'm also determined to be a bit less obnoxious and refrain from promoting violence against innocent 10 year old goalies.)

I told my son tonight, as I tucked his tired little legs into bed, that losing teaches us so much more than winning ever could. And I'd say the same thing about struggle and injury and disappointment. Of course I want to skip right to the overcoming part, to the victorious part, to the happy clappy celebration part. Who doesn't? But as skipping is forbidden (literally) while I have this stress fracture, I'm going to have to settle for the long slow plod through this land of injury and frustration. It's a path that will make me stronger and the eventual victories sweeter.

(It might also turn me into a total head case on the soccer sidelines, but let's just focus on the "make us stronger" part right now, mmkay?)

Win, lose, draw, DNS or DNF, I know what matters. And it has nothing to do with the score or the time or the record. What matters is heart and grit, perseverance and optimism, grace and gratitude. And I can do and be and cultivate every one of those things from the bench. When it comes to pursuing what actually matters, I have no restrictions, no limitations, no excuses, and every reason to go all in and all out on the sidelines.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

To the me at mile 19

To the me at mile 19,

My guess is you're not going to be particularly happy and comfortable. Your bum hip is likely to hurt from from the start, and who knows, by mile 19, you might be hurting symmetrically. Maybe you'll have just barely swallowed the last gel, or maybe you'll be re-tasting the first two.

Either way, my speculation about you not being particularly happy and comfortable isn't really speculation at all. More like a foregone conclusion. No maybes involved.

But there are some things I want to say to you, things you'll need to remember, things you'll need to hear in your head as you crest heartbreak hill in mile 20.

So I'll say them now.

To get ready for this race, you ran for 2.5 hours in sub zero temps and 3 inches of snow.
You ran hills that stretched for a mile, plodded out countless mind-numbing miles on a treadmill, and ran nearly 80 laps (20 miles!) around a track.
You battled a hip injury, winced through many a workout, did your PT exercises until your glutes disowned you.
You ran whether you felt like it or not.
You endured pool running when your hip needed a break.
You struggled against age and injury and fatigue and you emerged.
Still injured,
still older,
still tired.
But ready.

You've got this.

You deserve to be here.
You fought to be here.
Now fight to the finish.
And I mean FIGHT.

You didn't get up at 5:30 am to run 80 laps around a track for grins and giggles.
You didn't don a dozen layers and brave an hour on the trail in -5 degree temps so you could fit into your skinny jeans.
You did all the hard stuff so you'd be ready for THESE minutes. All 210 (or more) of them.
So BE in each minute and STAY in each mile.
(Can you believe it? You're in mile 19 of BOSTON right now! How amazing is THAT? And ok, probably also painful. But mostly just amazing, right?)

I know you think you're a poser. (I have the distinct advantage of being in your head, so don't deny it.)
I know the sandbagging, crutch-wielding coward that lives within, the one you battle in every race, with every new goal. 
Yes, it's "just" a hobby.
Yes, you're "just" a mid-pack runner.
Yes, this is "just" a race, one you don't have to win to put food on the table.
But however silly you feel admitting it, I know how much it means to you.
You worked hard to get here, and now you're here.
It's okay if it feels like a big deal to you.
Because it IS a big deal.There's no "just"-ing the Boston Marathon. 

So finish this beast.

Open it up and unleash every last bit of what you have in that final 10k.
No saving, sandbagging, minimizing, hedging, or "just"-ing.
And definitely no stopping.

You've got this.
So go get it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

In my not quite blank journal {Just Write}

I haven't stopped writing because I've run out of things to say. It's the opposite, really. There's too much, a million layers of crystal white words, an avalanche gathering. If I begin, the words could bury me.

And there's no time, either. If I could scribble while I run, type while I drive, you'd be turning the pages of my book by now. But since that sort of multi-tasking is frowned upon, every page in my journal is clean. Well, except for the page where my daughter wrote.

She told me, "I like to use my imagination wildly," and then she invited me to her secret society. She wrote the invitation in my otherwise clean journal. It turns out her imaginary name is Hermione, and the society is all about freeing the house elves. Ok then, it's possible her imagination likes to borrow just a bit of wildness from Rowling's. As it turns out, the only words in my otherwise clean journal may be slightly plagiarized.

I'm glad she's supportive of freeing the house elves, particularly since whenever we play Harry Potter, I'm usually playing the part of Dobby while washing dishes or doing laundry. (This is the sort of multi-tasking I can actually pull off.) Sometimes I make her laugh by pretending to smash myself on the head with a pot. While my pretend-Hermione snorts with laughter, I shoot a look at her older brother (who sometimes interjects as Professor Snape when he wants to annoy us). My look says to him: See! I'm pretty funny! Not nearly as uncool as you make me out to be. Then I remember that I am playing the part of a house elf--doing it quite well in fact--and realize that perhaps I am exactly as uncool as he makes me out to be.

I can live with that. I can live with being uncool if it makes my daughter laugh. And I can live with almost-blank journals and dormant blogs and unwritten books. I can do it quite well, in fact.