Saturday, June 14, 2014


"Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it."
~ Bill Cosby

"The medals don't mean anything and the glory doesn't last. It's all about your happiness."
~ Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Well I did it. I ran a half-marathon.
It was gruelling, it was emotional (reading Ben Bruce's account of his amazing marathon win at the San Diego Rock-n-Roll--he underlined this--running long distances is emotional. You are IN your head, with no way out), it was enlightening (how does anyone run a full marathon? I have a new respect), and it was an accomplishment.
Spirit reigned, my mantras left me, and all in all, as accomplishments go, this one was up there with my college graduation, like "me? I did this?"
Confession: I started this blog post over a week ago, when I was still fresh off the 'high' of it all, and then, of course "real life" interferes, intertwines, dictates.
This blog has been buzzing in my head lately, I've been thinking about my writing (or complete lack thereof) alot.
It goes hand-in-hand with my running, I have to say.
The word I keep thinking about is

Writing was (has been, is) here for me at a time in my life when things were hard, life was roller-coasting, and I needed an outlet. So too, running. And now, after the goal being reached, for running, of finishing the half, I find myself needing to recover. And this blog has seen recovery too. It witnessed me witness my father's cancer. It saw me through my grief, not only of his death (three years ago yesterday, more about that in a mintue) but also through losing my aunt. Yesterday also marked three years since I've heard her voice, either, another kind of death, feeling just as permanent.

The last 13-odd days since the half, I've run only in fits and starts. 3 km runs, when I was accustomed to 12. And I can barely get through the 3's. Just like this blog--in 2011 I had one of my most prolific years of writing (and running) and of course that was due to the grief--focussing my thoughts, sharpening my time, razoring my priorities.

Nowadays work owns the joint. The joint being my life. Family takes up the other nothing-percent. My long-distance marriange included in that. Reading, keeping up with friends and getting through a training program during the coldest winter/spring in years dominated the rest.

But still, my neglected writing nags me.

Lately, post-race, as I go for tiny little jogs (one morning this week I was up and out by 6:46am and as I ran a short 2-mile distance in a cloud/sun mix, I completely zoned out I was so tired).
So to replace my long runs, I've been reading about running and all things that surround it, care of Runner's World--my friend H. turned me on to this columnist--Kristin Armstrong, writer of Mile Markers, about all things life-and-running-related. Namely, how running colours your life and helps the hard days get easier and the easy days soar, and also how running (just like writing) likes to kick your ass when you least expect it, likes to keep you guessing, working, practicing--knowing that getting rusty is just one missed run, one unfinished blog-post away.

So here I am.

Back to training. In writing and in running. It takes discipline, something I've poured so much into with my professional life I don't have much left over.  It takes practice. Knowing that if you don't run that track or climb that hill or jot in that journal, you will fall off the wagon very quickly. Your fitness will suffer, your prowess will disappear.

So I'm committing. To writing, to running, to using this summer as a time not to slack off, but to re-commit myself to being disciplined, even if it just means that 2 miles at 6:46 am or a blog post after I get home from work detailing what I had for dinner.

For the present moment, here's a snapshot of life today;
Yesterday was the three-year anniversary of my dad's death, the 13th of June, this year Friday the 13th. Last night it was also a full moon, and I spent the evening at a work event that should have been dull but ended up fun. It was a cancer benefit, and during the speeches I dug my fingers into my palm to keep from crying. Tomorrow is Father's day, and I haven't quite decided how I'm spending it yet.
Somehow, alone might be right.
I ran today. I also went into the office and cleaned my work space. No one will believe what my office now looks like come Monday morning (I can scarcely believe it myself).
I grocery-shopped. I'm planning on making a nice dinner for myself.  I am sitting at my desk in the bright June evening light having a glass of Canadian wine. I'm wearing summer pajamas.
I'm by myself, having had no time alone, to reflect, on a weekend, in a number of months (I was on vacation for two weeks in May and it does not even seem possible I haven't talked about going to New York City for the second time and how it seemed like a different place from the fog I was in in 2010. Truly unbelievable).

So yes. Life goes on. Life is short. Life is long. Life is good. Life is hard. Life is all those things, it is this paradox of watching it race by and at the same time holding on to the moments, that arrive and drift away in the same breath.

I leave you with this scene from my half-marathon, around the 12 km mark (well before 18 km, where a snapshot in time would find me weeping with exhaustion, twin blisters on the insides of my feet making me want to scream). But at 12 km, there was a young musician, playing a classical instrument (my memory of this instrument is dim--I want to say saxophone? Cello?) and as I approached, iPod cranking out the playlist, I could still hear the strains of his playing--I paused my iPod to hear it.
Beatles, of course.
Hi Dad.
I miss you.
So much.


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