I’ll start out by saying that my “weekly” blog has turned into every 7-10 day blogs! I have been in somewhat of a writer’s slump lately and don’t really know why. I’ll blame the weather (just keepin’ it real). The high humidity on certain days (like yesterday 7/7/14) can nearly take your breath away. It was 92 degrees with the heat index well over 100 here in Midwestern Missouri. I was working and when I walked out of the doors of the hospital, it felt like I was walking into a raging inferno. It actually felt kind of good as I had been freezing all day. Not so good for runners though, or those folks who have to work out in it, or the elderly, or the homeless.
For runners, the saying goes that, “fall marathon PRs are birthed from hot summer training.” For those who don’t know what a PR is, it stands for “personal record” or some call it a PB- “personal best.” I used to do all of my training in the afternoon (what was I thinking)? This was in the days when I literally only ran from about April to Octoberish. No wonder I fell prey to all sorts of running injuries and mishaps. I was self taught/trained and learned by trial and error.
This running journey for me began August 12, 2007. My place of employment was putting together teams to walk the Susan Komen “Race for the Cure” 5k at their expense. I assure you, the ONLY reason I signed up is because they were footing the bill (just keepin’ it real). Not because I didn’t believe in fighting breast cancer, I just didn’t give a hoot about walking 3.1 whole miles! This mind you, was my first experience with the “race” atmosphere. I was 43 years old. There was such an air of excitement, I found I could not just walk. So I ran, albeit slowly, but I ran. The clock said 48:something. I progressed from there to a 10k, 1/2 marathon (my fave) and a full marathon. Hence, a runner was born. I will tell you, I did not train correctly in those early days. I would have a race coming up and maybe run 3 days a week to prepare…in the heat & humidity…drinking WAY too much water and becoming sodium depleted. On more than one occasion I thought I was Alice in Wonderland and had grown ten feet tall traipsing through the wooded trail in search of the white rabbit (just keepin’ it real)!
I’ve learned a few things since then about training, hydration, fueling, proper shoes, and the importance of scheduled rest days. I am mostly a solo runner, although I recently found out that there is a local running club that meets on Mon/Wed/Sat, so I may participate in some of those. Since I am one of those runners who run naked (e.g.- no music or things that weigh me down like holding onto water bottles), I have a lot of time to think. A lot of ideas for this blog pop into my head when I’m running. I think about people and random things. Mostly I think about how running is a lot like life. I think about how hard it is to reach my goal, how I want to quit. Sometimes it really hurts, but it hurts worse to stop. Life is like that you know. There are so many distractions that sometimes I just want to quit-drop out of life completely. Life hurts sometimes. People who aren’t living the “Golden Rule” hurt you sometimes. But as with running, I press on. It hurts, but it hurts much worse to quit, to give up. Also, being a solo runner allows me to spit when necessary, and I spit A LOT (just keepin’ it real).
Needless to say, running has opened up a whole new world for me. I have met people I would have never met otherwise. I have discovered that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. In some aspects, running has saved my life. I did that inaugural 5k two months after losing my dad. A year and a half later on March 17, 2009 (St. Patrick’s Day) I literally almost had a nervous breakdown. Running was the one thing I could do to keep my sanity. It was the one thing that allowed me to be free in my thoughts, allowing me to feel every pulsating beat of my heart and to know that I was still alive and that it was going to be alright (just keepin’ it real).
I was a chubby kid in the awkward “ugly duck” stage in 5th and 6th grade. My parents signed me up for softball in hopes that I would lost weight or “unchubby up” even though they kept junk food around the house. My mother even gave me a calorie counter book. I say all of that to say this, I was never the “athletic type” when I was younger. Prior to that, I was made to take dance lessons because I was so clumsy (at least I was TOLD I was clumsy). Did the softball help? Nah-it just humiliated me because I was always put in the outfield because I couldn’t catch or throw or much else. Did the dance lessons help? Nah-I’m still as clumsy as ever -I broke 2 glass bowls the other day. What are the odds of that happening in the same day?
So many people are superficial these days. Superficial ( Wiki dictionary): (adjective) 1. existing or occurring at or on the surface. Synonyms (surface, exterior, outer, outside, slight). 2. Appearing to be true or real only until examined more closely. Let’s look at the synonym “slight.” Slight (verb): To insult (someone) by treating or speaking of them without proper respect or attention; an insult (noun). Superficial men & women look only on the outward appearance thinking that the perfect man/woman has what society (and Hollywood) has deemed worthy (thank you photoshop)! Superficial people pretend to be someone they’re not, whether hiding behind a computer screen or in 3D, afraid to reveal the “real person” for fear of rejection. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could recapture that childlike ignorance when we didn’t know what we didn’t know? That chubby girl above wasn’t looking for acceptance, she was just doing what her parents wanted her to do. In the process, she (me) discovered that life/people could be cruel and suddenly there was a need to be accepted or to hide. It has taken years to chip away at the others’ imposed image of what I should be. I used to “hide” a lot behind sunglasses, day or night (just keepin’ it real).
I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can, watch you weave then breathe your story lines. And I wear my sunglasses at night so I can, so I can, keep track of the visions in my eyes.” (Corey Hart, “Sunglasses At Night”).
If I wore them, no one could see into the windows of my soul and see the insecurity that was there. I still wear sunglasses but strictly to keep the sun out when driving or running.
Yes, running has set me free. At 50 years young, I am in the best shape of my life, and I KNOW there is nothing I can’t do if I want it bad enough. Life can throw a lot of bad crap (as opposed to good crap-ha) at ya. My hope is that everyone finds their peace & buries the corpse of unrealistic societal expectations. You are uniquely you with all of your quirks, so-called flaws and “hang ups.” If people can’t accept the “real” you (or me) , you (we) don’t need ’em anyway.
And that my friends, is how I’m keepin’ it real!
Until we meet again,