Crossing The Line…..The Finish Line

I used to avoid the idea of entering running races because I never wanted to be the one that came in last. And then it dawned on me. Someone has to be last. And so what if its me? Who cares what your time is or your rank? You finished something a good 90% of the population in your city did not even bother to wake up for. First, last, or somewhere in between, you gave ‘er shit and got ‘er done and lookee here, you have the t-shirt to show for it.

I read a tweet the other day that someone wrote about not bothering with a race because they feared they’d be last and couldn’t stomach it. The tweet was written by a person who is a very seasoned runner, clearly not used to anything but top ranking, and the idea of being in the back of the pack with us lowly “slow pokes” was reason enough to lace up on their own elsewhere, so as not to be embarrassed that someone might lump them in the same group as us. For shame. It makes me think that they are the type that would snicker when they see a heavier person out there walking/jogging/TRYING.

It prompted an “Unfollow”. True athletes support each other, are proud of each others effort and accomplishments. True athletes realize that waking up every day to slug it out with the pavement or the treadmill or the weights is an unending commitment and know that as long as they are out there trying, then they’re “one of us”. True athletes know that trying is the very best you can do. So long as you are trying, you are, in your own way, kicking ass. So long as you are trying, you are, in your own way, an athlete.

So to the tweeter who couldn’t possibly enter anything that might make them push themselves, possibly face the fact that theres always room for improvement, I say this: I may come in last, but I am not on the couch. I am not in bed. I am not sitting on my ass doing nothing. I am out here, with you, running, just like you are. And I’m trying my best. “Last” is better than “Did Not Finish”, which trumps “Did Not Start”.

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The Thing About Muscles

A few things I have learned this week about muscles:

1) You require your tricep muscle to accurately apply mascara. You can use opposite hand to securely hold mascara-wand-holding-arms-elbow to steady application. And then be thankful you only wear mascara and do not need to repeat this.
2) You require your chest muscles to turn corners in your car, and you particularly need them to parallel park. This one I took for granted until I realized how many turns it took to get to work, get home, get to my girls school and park the car. Our city is made up of constant turns.
3) You require your quads to lower yourself on to a chair or toilet, this is especially true in the dark, in the middle of the night, when the seat is freezing cold.
4) You also require your quads to get back up off of said chair or toilet. You may let out an “oompf” at this point.
5) You require both your biceps and your triceps to raise your arms high enough to wash your own hair. If you know this in advance, you can plan to have a helper onsite. Or get comfortable with not washing your hair for a few days.

Its kind of cool, how all these little moves use all of these different parts of your body. And that working them out properly leaves THEM feeling sore and YOU feeling, well, them. When your muscles are sore a day or so after a workout, it means they are repairing the damage from the workout. And in repair is where gains are made and strength is created. So I will suffer through the messy mascara eyes, driving like an old granny, grimacing as I lower into any seat of any kind and washing only the lower third of my hair because I know I did good. I have made gains. I have gotten stronger.

It’s a Sad, Sad World

I have yet to watch a documentary about the events of 911. I can’t bring myself to see people desperately falling from a building. I have yet to watch a documentary about the Katrina disaster. I can’t bring myself to watch people perched on their roofs, or X’s on houses, or numbers indicating how many dead inside. I have yet to read an article about the Newton shootings. I can’t bring myself to absorb the words of families who no longer have the sweet luxury of kissing their babies goodnight. So I don’t know what compelled me to open the picture from yesterdays bombing in Boston, the one marked “Extreme Graphic Content”.

I won’t ever forget it.

There were people on twitter saying they would pray for Boston. There were people saying what about the places in the world where this happens everyday. There were people comparing one tragedy to another, as though the one they cared about was more important. I have an idea. Whatever your faith, your nationality, your homeland, your belief system, how about we all just “pray” for the good to outweigh the evil. How about we “pray” for everywhere in the world that sees these types of tragedies, whether its once a decade, once a year, once a month, once a week, or god forbid, once a day. In no way does a regular occurence of this magnitude somewhere else, detract from the fact that it has happened in Boston, in our backyard. On the contrary. It is a stark reminder that it happens, everywhere.

I think of the planners of the marathon and my heart breaks for them. As an event planner, I know the weight of what we put on ourselves before and during an event. I know the responsibility we load on ourselves, what the enormity of the entire event resting firmly on our shoulders feels like. I know they planned their security in the same fashion that they would have in the last few years and I know they were comfortable with that and I would have been also. I cannot imagine the grief and the guilt they would have been feeling after this happened. It is not their fault, but they will feel like it is. This I know.

I think of those runners. Those runners that trained for this, that live a healthy and likely busy lifestyle, doing what they can to prolong their lives, doing what they can to keep their hearts beating and blood pumping. I think of them as they ran that course, wondered if they were hoping for a personal best, hoping for a chance to beat last year, or hoping just to finish. I think of them and wonder, who will keep running? Who will cower and not enter another group run again, who will run the minute they can to help them work through it all, and who can never run with the power of their own two, fully functioning legs again. I think of them the most.

Running is such a personal thing. It can be a private moment you have with yourself. A time where you marvel at how YOU can shape your life, your body, and your mind. And I keep going back to that image in my head, the one I looked at and will always remember. That person, that person who went out for a run one sunny Monday in Boston, and I think to myself “I will run. I will run for you while you cannot. I will run until you can run again.”

We are lucky. We are not exempt. But we are lucky. We live in a great country and a wonderful city and no matter what people say about it to the contrary, we are lucky. And yes, I realize that up until yesterday I am sure those that live in Boston would have said the same thing. But as I sit and send my positive and healing thoughts up into the universe, I choose to put my faith into the belief that Mr. Rogers was right. That there are more helpers out there than not. That whenever bad things happen, you need to look for a helper because they will always be there. Where there is one person who is walking with evil, there are hundreds running to help.