Monday, April 29, 2013

What to Say

I guess the problem with failing to update my blog at all frequently is that when I go to do so there is both nothing to say and also way too much. I haven't been training, and so in that sense I have nothing much to report. On the other hand, a great deal has happened in the last month. My cousin was killed, I adopted her three dogs and now have five, my mother-in-law passed away after a very long illness, the bombings at the end of the Boston Marathon occurred--which shook me completely and ignited an anger and despair I haven't felt in some time.

By way of update:

  • The dogs are doing well. 
  • My house is not doing so well. It reeks of pee (the old guy has a bit of an incontinence thing going on) and in general this place just smells powerfully of DOG. 
  • I'm grieving--or something--many things right now: the loss of my cousin, the loss of my mother-in-law, who I loved, and the loss of my old, steady, committed to her goals self, who is nowhere to be found.
  • I just started training for a July marathon. I want to qualify for Boston so I can run it next year. (A common sentiment, so I'm hoping I will be able to get in!)
  • After all that talk of swim Nationals, I'm not going. I haven't been able to train in the last month, and I just don't want to go to such a competitive meet without feeling ready to race at all.  Local events, fine. Big scary National meet? no.

I definitely feel as if I have been turned upside-down and shaken in the last month, and this is not entirely a bad thing. Sometimes we need to be shaken in order to get ahold of higher meaning and purpose. I love to train, I love to race. But I have been shaken out of those loves, and forced to contemplate  death, what it means to have a full life, what it means to care for people both in life and after they are gone. I'm not going to say I've experienced this is a slap so much as I've experienced it as a realignment. Today I am healthy; so is my family. I have all my limbs; so does my family. I can run, and bike and swim, and I love to do these things but how fast I do them or for how long seems of little consequence right now. And the battle to better my performances each year feels hollow and never-ending, too.

It may not always feel that way, but it does right now. And I'm not sad about that--but I am keenly aware of it.

Yesterday I raced a 10k. I signed up last minute. Last week at this time I had no idea I would want to run a race. Hell! I haven't been running nearly at all! And I was going to jump into a 10K?

But it seemed just the thing. Can I race and just RACE? Not better my former self--not even match my former self--but just relish that my body can move and run, no matter at what pace it manages to do so? Will that feel good? Will it feel sad?

So, I ran.
And I was happy. I was happy while running, I was happy when it started to hurt, and I was even happy when in the last mile I slowed way way down and wondered whether my poor little out of shape legs would allow me to finish! What really surprised me was that in letting go of performance, I actually performed okay. I ran the first 4 miles sub-7, and the final 2 miles much more slowly, but still IN the seven's, and I finished in :44:14. This got me 2nd AG, which I found shocking. But it makes sense upon reflection. The race I did was the James Joyce Ramble, and this year that race was also the USATF Masters Championships. All of those women who are somewhat competitive and Masters athletes ran in that event--(the same event, but in a separate category). Had I raced in the USATF race I would have finished 6/7, which makes a lot more sense for a time like that.

The point is, I didn't feel bad. I felt good! And I was happy to hang out and chat with my friends at the finish. Progress.

The real test is next week. I will race in a tiny sprint that I like to do every year as a benchmark. Only this year it will not be a benchmark! I have biked only a few hours (total) in the last two months. I have only been outside on my bike once, for 26 minutes. So when I say I am not in biking shape, well, I'm really not lying here. And I'm not sure what that will look like next weekend! Certainly I have to let go of the idea of being competitive, but you know, it's time for that. This year, it's time for that.  I need to start enjoying each day because I am privileged to live, and not because I have a chance to improve upon the person I was yesterday. The latter is unending, and ultimately, unsatisfying.

I'm so glad it's finally spring here. It feels like things must finally be turning around.