The Grating Decay

It was very dark when I left for the race. I was excited but truly fearful that I wouldn’t be able to run the entire thing. It’s difficult to accept that the only thing stopping you is yourself.

I hate that I feel the need to compare myself to others and only now am realizing that it’s toxic. I used to say to my husband (it was a quote I had seen on Pinterest), “Hey, at least I’m lapping everyone on the couch!”

To which he’d reply, “It isn’t about that.”

Man, he knows how to steal a girl’s thunder.

We had a good laugh about that but ever since his accident, he sees things in a new perspective. As humble as he was, I know he has commented about how some people he works with couldn’t run even though it is imperative to their job that they are able to.

But he’s more sympathetic now. He’s there now.

I remember before my first 5K he was very supportive and he knew I could do it.

“But what if I’m last?” I asked.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said.

It doesn’t. I see that now.

I ran the 5K last weekend with my head in the clouds or as high as I could see. We ran through a huge park and the first mile flew by quickly. The trees were taller than most buildings in our city. There was no room for the sun to peek through. I watched kids cheering for their parents, people cheering for their significant others. I passed walkers and they passed me.

I was doing okay until the last mile or so. Odd since usually the first half-mile of any of my practice runs is the hardest. I have the trees and the still of the morning to thank for the distraction. The last mile I was acutely aware that it was indeed the last mile and I was feeling the effects of everything.

I didn’t have time to down a protein bar before the run. I thought I would have time to walk back to my car and relax after checking in but it was pitch dark and even though the park was bustling with participants, I listened to my inner voice and did not walk back to my car. My last two practice runs were only two miles and one mile, respectively. I was unprepared. I was hungry.

Then inspiration came in the form of a running coach of an older woman next to me. I heard him say, “Let’s close the gap on these runners here.”

He was talking about me and someone running right behind me. I shouldn’t have been but I was.

I was deeply offended.

He kept coaching this woman and giving her motivation and I was getting mad. I don’t even know why. His voice, although probably very encouraging to this woman, was grating and getting on my last nerve.

One hundred yards before the finish line, he told her, “Okay, time to sprint. Give it everything you got.”

OH HELL NO.

I sprinted like I had never sprinted before. Faster than any day-after-a-holiday sale. Faster than the big dog can get to an unattended waffle on the table. Faster than a toddler with a box of magic markers.

And oh, did it hurt.

But it felt good. I think I might have passed five runners in those last painful yards. I’ve never run like that before.

Even now, two days after the race I don’t even know why I was so upset. I did not have anything against the woman or her coach, who could have been her son for all I know. I just felt so drained, so emotionally and so physically drained, that I didn’t even realize I was thinking. I’m glad I did react in that matter though. I now know that even when that exhausted there is still some fight within me.

If it’s in me, then I know for an absolute fact that it is within you too.

After making this awesome Whovian poster,

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I trudged back through the field from whence I came and passed the mark for the last half-mile of the race. Half-marathoners were finishing a little over an hour after they started. I stared in awe for a few moments, gazing at their slender runner’s builds and wondering if I worked hard enough and long enough that I would ever be able to earn that body. Feeling slightly disappointed with the realization that the answer was NO, I started walking toward my car and thought, “Fuck it, I need to watch.”

I turned around and sat on one of the cement dividers on the side of the road. The runners who finished in record time all had the very sleek build but soon I began to see other body types.

I was searching for my body type.

Then I saw her. A woman who defied the slender runner’s body, who had bulky muscles, who probably had a regular body-fat percentage. She was powerful. She was fast. She was awesome.

I sat for about a half an hour and continued to see different body types. Though they were not as fast as the first runners I saw, thirteen-freaking-miles in two hours is still pretty awesome.

But I’m gonna be honest here. Thirteen-freaking-miles PERIOD is still pretty awesome.

Someone asked me how I got myself motivated to run 10K and a lot of thoughts come to mind.

– I need to make goals to make things happen in my life, otherwise I tend to putter along and make excuses.

– I Google’d major streets in my neighborhood and saw that if I ran to the grocery store and back it was only two miles but if I ran to the other grocery store it was only six miles. Running through my neighborhood with major landmarks in mind did not seem as difficult as running around in a circle twenty-four times.

– My father had a lot of problems with his health, a menu of preventative diseases that I wanted to make sure I didn’t order. He was not overweight but he smoked, did not manage his stress, and abandoned a typical Filipino diet for heartier, carbier fare. I figure it might be easier to change now before I was too old and stubborn. (Okay, I am both but oldER and MORE subborn.)

– I don’t want my kids to become dependent on processed foods and sugary carbs because I know I am dependent on the latter. I do buy the stuff because it’s convenient (Ramen noodles anyone?) but I make sure that I buy say chips OR ice cream, not everything at once. Plus it’s easier to say NO at the store. If it’s in my house, I WILL EAT IT.

– But mostly, my motivation comes from my husband. He’s a stubborn, old fool who once he stood for the first time after the accident, he declared he’d be walking within the the week. He did with a walker.

Then he moved to two canes, then one cane. That fucker did everything he said he would.

I don’t know if I told you that he’s a cheap bastard because he is. It hurts his feelings to pay twenty bucks for a pair of shoes from Payless Shoe Source. (I’m not knocking the store but my wide feet need more support to run.) “My feet only bleed for a week,” he’d say.

Right? (Oops, I think I did tell this tale before.)

But with those stupid shoes, he could keep up with SEALs young enough to be our kids and he’s even lapped Marines on the track with them.

So with all that said, I can’t find motivation to run a 10K?

His presence like that grating voice of the running coach, reminding me of the fight within me that I never knew I had. I will never have a runner’s body. I know that. I accept that. But with the body I have and with the fight within me, I know that I can make it more powerful than it has ever been.

10K next month. Half-marathon in March.

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