Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Keep on Running
One year ago last August my sisters and I were part of a relay team in the "Portland to Coast" relay walk itis a 24 hour relay walk divided up into 4-7 mile segments, each of us completing 2 segments, about 12 hours apart. This walk is a lifestyle for some, and there are cultural rituals I was unaware of. Passing someone on the road is called a "roadkill". Follower vans have the numbers of kills made by the teams written on the windows. People dress up crazy, cars honk and wave cheering their teammates on. We slept in an open field under the stars with hundreds of others, sharing a long line of port-a-potties. It was insane and wonderful. I loved all of it, and was caught up in the competition. The first round I was roadkill to no one and I was determined to keep it that way.
My second shift I was assigned to walk in the middle of the night on a dark windy country road. I decked out in gear from head lights to reflective tape to avoid becomming literal road kill.
I passed walkers one by one, smug in my killings. 3 miles in, I was alone on the dark road, or so I thought. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a light right on my tail. I cranked up my ipod and walked faster than I thought possible. She stayed right on me, I didn't want to turn around and give in, so I upped my pace. The light behind me increased its pace as well. She was relentless. Finally when I thought I could go no faster and was about to consent to defeat, I turned around. I was alone on the trail. My brother in law had put a light on the back of my hat I was unaware of. I was chasing myself.
So, I am an idiot who learned literally that my main goal is not to surpass others, but to surpass myself.
This morning on my run I was thinking about that lesson. A few mornings ago I had just completed my run ending on my killer hill and sat on my front step trying to keep from coughing up the lung I had just dislodged. Just then, the girl who 21 years ago stole my high school boyfriend jogged past me, up the hill while talking casually to her companions. She was beautiful, thin, and well dressed in a complete matching Nike outfit. I lowered my sweaty head so I would not be recognized.
In the past just such an experience would drive me to discouragement and ice cream, consoling myself with the thought of her probably having an unhappy marriage and bratty children. Now, I am coming to a new awareness and confidence.
5 kids have not been kind to my stretchy stomach and marked up thighs but I have legitimate laugh lines, I have all that I need, and I am becoming content in the fact that I am only in a race against myself, and that though I am capable of doing better and pushing harder "The race goes not to the swiftest but he who keeps on running" (unknown)
I will keep on running. I will not look back to see what the competition is doing because that leads to either despair at my loss, or a false victory where others fail so I can win. There will always be someone smarter, faster, thinner, and better dressed. I can't worry about it, they are not my competition, I am. I will look only forward to obtain my goals and hope to bring as many with me as I can.