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"Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate." ~Unknown

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PostHeaderIcon First race of 2017…oh boy really?

This was either sheer will and perseverance or stubborn stupidity. Or all of the above. I ran a super cold half #54 this weekend. Didn’t exactly let too many people know, ‘cept for my lovely local DC friends and a handful of others who just knew. T’was ugly.
See, I haven’t run since 2016. It’s mid-March. And I don’t mean like some runners say they “haven’t run” but still do 2-3 miles 3x/week, but it’s “not really running.” Truly not running or hiking or training or anything. Physically I lost endurance, strength, boldness, lung capacity, form, speed, and of course, inspiration. My gut, my joints, my lungs are out of whack and my pd numbers have climbed again. So as I write this on a plane back to Denver just hours after I crossed a finish line (which was in doubt for much of the race), I am marveling that I actually walked onto the damn plane. Let alone ran Saturday morning.

Seems I took one too many life gut punches last Fall and while for a bit I continued to feel physically strong and kept going (think I was attempting another fake-it-till-you-make-it which so does not work as a lifestyle), I ran out of gas, and then some. And can’t seem to find the next filling station. Jan and Feb didn’t exactly start the year off great either. It’s been a rough few months to say the least. Hard to find much get up and go. Not running has had nothing to do with being lazy or needing a kick in the pants.
A few good things from the race did happen – including, yes, crossing the finish line. Well meaning folks had encouraged me to hey, pull a DNF if you need to, just take care of yourself. It’s gonna be tough no matter what cause you haven’t run AND out of control cold, right? Top 3 coldest races I’ve run.

Speaking of coldest races – third of three cold races where there was ice at the water stations. As in, spilled out of cups onto the ground, turned into ice that one had to step lightly around (or end up on your ass.) My friend Adam told me that at one water station, the volunteer pulled back the cup he almost handed him because *itwasice*. Yes, ice. The next cup he got was slushy water.

Speaking of Adam – somehow the what-are-the-odds of running into him in the corral at the start of the race last year was topped by not seeing him in a corral (keeping to myself a bit these days) and then seeing him at MILE 10. As in, he was ahead of me running and I looked up and thought, hmm, I think that’s Adam. And used a surge to pull up to his left, confirmed my suspicion and gave him “fancy meeting you here!” And we ran for a minute. As in really just a minute or two. Adam is super fast and given that I haven’t run, I am not. By mile 10 every fiber of my legs hurt and my lungs were hanging on. Trying to keep up with speedy Adam made my lungs nearly jump out of my chest so I said “go get your finish time, I’m gonna hang back but let’s connect at the finish line.” And true to his word we did meet up. Thank you Adam, you made those last few miles more buoyant.

Before I ever saw Adam, I saw whiskey. At mile 7. Every ounce of me wanted to spike left and throw a dixie cup shot back, for warmth, for shits and giggles, for curiosity. But by mile 7 I was fairly light headed consistently, with a frozen face and remember that one time a race had wine-tasting at mile 10 was awful so I opted not to. #nexttime
And after that, the Balata DC drums corps at mile 8. Wow. Even in my woozy non-whiskey state I was able to focus briefly on the energy and intensity of the swaying group. Best yet.

Back and forth this requiem goes, kind of like my brain during the race. The scenery. Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, cherry blossoms, Georgetown, heading down North Capitol Ave and running towards the Capitol. All gorgeous on this sunny, clear and ridonkulously cold running morning.

Oh! Speaking of scenery, Rock Creek Parkway, beautiful. But then it turned mean – the hill. Thankfully the Run to Remember folks in blue were there. Having spent Friday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery feeling overwhelmed, in a good way, at the sheer enormity and emotion of it all, I burst into tears seeing all the parents, friends, siblings, children of fallen soldiers holding American flag after flag. I walked that hill partially because of my lack of strength and partially to pay respect.

Judy. Judy. Judy. I love that you were there, running too. You are amazing. Was this number 9? You make it look effortless. You inspire me and your compassionate non-judgmental support for where I’m at these days is incredibly humbling and kind. Thank you for meeting up with me for a healthy pre-race dinner and walking back post-race through cherry blossoms in our tired, cold, shivering mylar shawls. The new piece of race jewelry stating “You Are Enough” is something I’m wearing each race from now on (and perhaps more.) Thank you my friend.

And Sara, Bryan, Audrey – to be able to spend quality time with all three of you in the days leading up to the race – you will never know the appreciation I have for you each, for your compassion, laughter, kindness and inspiration. You made these last few days brilliant and even happy for me. Thank you for letting me be fully me, accepting me no matter what, and giving me a bit of hope and light. And for grounding me in order to be able to run, foolish as it may be.

Speaking of appreciation – dear sir and his lovely wife who were in the VIP tent when I got there. I stumbled in and crawled over towards the heater but on the other side of a bar table. I sat on the ground on my mylar post-race shawl, desperately wanting to change out of my wet cold clothes (it was so cold, the water I got at the finish line had begun to turn icy a few minutes later, I was beyond shivering) into something, well, not warm but maybe dry. I began to shiver uncontrollably. I got my first two layers off and they asked if I needed help, my pride shook my head no and smiled thank you. I got my new layers on but by then my fingers had lost all feeling and color and dexterity. Couldn’t even put my gloves back on. I had a packet of hand warmers and tried mightily with my teeth to open both sides. No such luck. I hear again “do you need some help?” I look up and with tears in my eyes, I nod. He appears squatting next to me and rips open both packets and I put them in my hands. He giggles and takes them back to shake them and then puts them in my hands, shaking my hands to get the heat in the packets going. It’s the only body part moving at this point. A minute later he comes back “there’s more heat on the other side, I’m not taking no for an answer, we’ll help you up” and he and his wife help me up and move me around to the other side of the table and I sit back down on the ground to try to warm up. Everything but my hands do start to warm up (those took another hour or so.) I looked around to say thank you once the feeling came back to my face and brain (seriously, this is a whole new concept of brain freeze!) and my kind friends were gone. Whoever you were, thank you thank you thank you. I will pay it forward, I promise.

This race had lots of entertainment along the course, including:
The. Best. Signs. Ever.
“You’re Running Better Than the Government.” Yeah, saw this sign FIVE TIMES. And pretty sure there were more along the way.
“Run Like Steve Bannon is Chasing You.” And then I promptly pictured the grim reaper from SNL chasing me.
“Nevertheless, She Persisted.” Yeah, that one gave me a little boost every time.
Ok, this one I gave her a high-five for, laughing out loud: “Don’t Worry, I Called Russia – You’re Going to Win.” Weeheeheehee.

Everything hurts. Every muscle I knew I had and others I didn’t know I had. Including my face, cause of a wee case of wind burn. Why did I run? I don’t know. It was far from easy, in fact the complete opposite. Both physically and more mentally. Who am I without running? I’ve wondered about even sharing this, writing about this, given the state of our communities and society right now, the urgency of the work ahead. That it feels selfish to even hint at the idea of needed support. I’m learning to not wear my heart on my sleeve so much – it’s not serving me, moreover it’s crushing me more often than not. Then again, as we talk about at Allegory all the time, we’ve been raised to just stuff it and get over things (and that’s advice I’ve been given too many times.) How’s that working? And coincidentally much of my health stuff rears it’s raging head whatever I’m stuffing for whatever reason. I may feel wary and far more cynical than ever, and I also know I’m horrid at asking for help.

I’ve prided myself on being the resilient one, helping others, trying to prove or show my strength and ability to rise again (and again and again.) And in being honest with a few key people who encouraged me to share this because it’s real, it’s raw, it’s honest – it happens to nearly everyone and people rarely talk about it. And so I am. There’s so much more I could divulge about the last few months, the naïve trust I had in certain things – people and life, how I feel like the raw end of a boxing glove. what I haven’t done for myself, how I have trouble taking real care of me and how I’m paying for it now. Yes, perhaps I needed a break – but I didn’t take it for real, cause beating yourself during said break means it’s not a break, really. Self sabotaging isn’t exactly helpful either. I’m not great at asking for help, stupidly prideful about holding the piano by myself, stuffing it to prove something (God knows what) to someone, something. I have another race in two weeks. I’ve signed up for a few this year. I can honestly say I have no idea how they’re going to go, or even if I’m going to do them let alone finish them. But something in the last three days tried quietly to get my attention, in a good way, and maybe just maybe, this is still who I am. Or, post the big goal last Fall, a new version of the next phase. What I do know is despite an avalanche of damn good reasons to check out and chuck hope out the window, I got up and ran-ish and crossed finish line #54. If you’re still reading this, thank you whoever you are for taking the moment to read this raw, real account. Feeling incredibly grateful right now.

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