Go Big or Go Home??
Too Much Too Soon?
I’m a Sucker for a T-Shirt
>or, quite simply<
LOTS of Heavy Breathing
[WARNING: This post is about running. If that bores you, feel free to move on. However, this is mostly a walk (run) down (up) memory lane, with lots of shout outs to all the people who have journeyed with me along the way, for all these years, and all these miles.]
So my co-worker talked me into signing up for this 10K, and then like all good running partners, promptly left town. That left me running alone, just seven weeks into “living the high life”, with plenty of time to think about something other than running at 12,000 feet!
Most people would think I’m crazy for signing up to do something this ridiculous, and I wouldn’t argue with them. It was a foolhardy thing to do. But man oh man, it was a lot of fun. There’s nothing like seeing and experiencing a new city than running all over it.
Here we are at the start. I didn’t hear a single person speaking English in the entire crowd.
Those wires you see overhead are the Teleferico. More on that in another blog post.
I’m pretty nervous at this point, wondering what I’ve gotten myself into, knowing that I still get winded walking up a flight of stairs.
And it turns out that running at altitude isn’t all that different from any other running–I’m still slow, and I still love it. I felt like I was flying on the downhills and like most of the people around me there in the front of the back of the pack, I mostly walked the uphills, of which there were plenty. And I did a lot of heavy breathing. And I thought a lot of distracting thoughts.
Here I am at the finish, winded but exhilarated for having made it, and none the worse for wear. You can see the city in the background, and imagine all the hills we ran up and down. We ended on a beautiful bridge high above the city, and the last hill we climbed to get to that bridge was the worst one of all, of course. Having that view of the mountains in the background all along the way was none too shabby, though.
And here I am back at home. In all honesty, that was the biggest accomplishment of all. I left home not knowing how in the heck I’d return. I cannot tell you how pleased I was to find the correct bus, be brave enough to get in (it was my first time to get on a city bus alone), and actually find my way home again. Small victories. All for the t-shirt.
And here are some of those distracting thoughts I thought along the way:
I started running in 1978. I don’t even remember why, but I remember what I wore (how crazy is that? It was a gray cotton sweatsuit), where I ran (Scott, Louisiana), and a lot about those first few steps. (I certainly couldn’t run a mile.)
And I’ve been running, on and off, ever since. It has been a huge part of my life and greatly influenced who I am today. I’m not very good at very many things, but I can definitely put one foot in front of another, and in fact, it turns out I can do it for a long time, although not very fast!
And I thought about all the people who have run some of those miles with me. Believe it or not, way back then, one of those people was Randy! We ran separate legs of a marathon relay for several years back in The Woodlands. And I ran the last six miles of the Houston marathon with my brother Benny, way back before I ever dreamed I could run one myself. (Oh, yeah, and there was that triathlon in Houston when I beat him. He likes to forget about that day.)
And I ran my first 10 mile race with my old friend, Cliff. That was the time that Megan yelled, “Hey, mom, you’re not last!” Obviously, I had thought I would be.
And all those long, precious, unforgettable miles I ran in Scotland with Carol and with Dana, in every kind of weather imaginable, in preparation for my first marathon.
And those many miles in Tomball with Marla, when I didn’t know anyone else who ran.
And those hot and sweaty miles in Houston, when I had this crazy idea that I could get faster if I worked harder, and all those wonderful running partners including the famous Dr. Bob, who paced me to my half-marathon PR, and Katie Adams, who made me come to Memorial Park with her when she had a first “date” with this guy who is now her husband and the father of her four children, and Jennifer, with whom we created “The Jennifer Way” running program, (‘start slow and then ease back’), and Anne Marie, who used to make me sprint in the middle of a long run, and Jana, who became a big marathon runner after I left, and Mary Brazelton, who paid forward kindness and ran the last six miles of my Houston Marathon PR with me, and oh so many other people who met me in the wee hours of many mornings to encourage me and share the road.
And even from time to time, Megan, who ran a 5k with me once, and Ian, who mercilessly makes fun of me saying I run lopsided (which is true), and Adam, with whom I ran one of my favorite races of all time: The Peachtree 10K in Atlanta. (Sadly, none of them developed the love of running I’d hoped.)
And then on to Denver where Meredith and Shelley introduced me to the parks and running in the snow, and where Shaunda patiently ran circles around me, and where Diana first discovered running (and was a natural and way faster than me) and where Lia discovered that she’s not in fact a runner, and where I returned the favor and ran Katie Haitz in to the finish of her first 26.2. And so so many other people.
I’m publishing this blog post about completing a 10K at 12k’, a feat I didn’t think possible this early in, not to brag about what I’ve accomplished, but rather, first to say thanks to so many people who encouraged me along the way, and with whom I shared many hours of deep conversation, but also, mainly to encourage you to step out and dare to do something you think might be out of your league. It might be running, or it might not be running or any other physical feat–it might be something entirely different, like going back to school and finally finishing that degree, as daunting as that might seem; or sticking with a frustrating employment situation and reaching deep down and finding the courage and wherewithal to make it better; or breaking out and pursuing a long held dream of a challenging new career; or digging in and fighting to preserve that relationship; or getting counselling to finally face those demons and defeat them; or finding the courage to reach out and forgive that person who hurt you so badly and never seemed forgivable; or even to be the one to ask for forgiveness.
If I could inspire even one person to tackle their unattainable, it would be worth every step I’ve ever run. It’s never too late to try something new, or different, or seemingly impossible. And the thrill of victory, in whatever way you define that for yourself, is oh so sweet.