Woke up to cloudy skies this morning. The air is cool -- a welcome relief from the searing heat of the past few days. My body didn't want to get out of bed. Tired. Feeling logy. Disrupted sleep. Alexis and Liseane called at 1:30 to ask for a ride home from work. It's only 3 blocks -- hard to get a cab for that distance. Hard to get a cab in this city during Stampede! Ellie wanted breakfast at 7. I wasn't ready to oblige!
At 9 am I had to be at a local Running Room to receive a cheque for the shelter where I work. In February they had held a "Hypothermic Run", proceeds of which were donated to the shelter. It's Saturday. I didn't want to be there -- but I had made the commitment. It was my job. I got up. Got dressed. And drove down. I walked into the room filled with runners and joggers eager to get running. Today is the kick-off/warm-up run for the Marathon tomorrow morning.
I don't often feel uncomfortable in a group of people, but standing there in my 'cowboy duds' amongst the Lycra and spandex of the runners, I felt out of place, disoriented, and... jealous.
In 1992 I ran the Marathon. As I write that year I look back, count up the time in between what I did and where I am today and realize -- it was a decade and a half ago. Hmmmm. Time stepped forward and I stood still in my running shoes, holding myself cemented to an achievement in the past.
Since completing it, I haven't consistently run much at all. An injury, knee surgery, aching joints, bad feet (a whole bucket-full of excuses) have pulled me from my path, dislodged me from the running world where I loved to be. Standing in the Running Room this morning, I wanted to find my entry ticket back into that place. I wanted to be part of that world I loved. Running on endorphins, feeling the high of knowing I was pushing myself, moving myself, stirring myself to find my personal best. I wanted to feel the joy of my heart pumping, my feet pounding as my legs carried me across the finish line of my best efforts. I wanted to feel the air pulling into my lungs, expanding into my body, filling up every vessel, every cell with life-giving oxygen buoyed up with satisfaction of doing something I love.
I used to love running.
And that was the problem this morning.
I used to run. I used to be fit. I used to love spending two hours on the pathways, my mind calm, my body alive. I used to love running along the river. Tracking nobody but myself as I quietly, silently, peacefully ran along the trails. I used to love stretching my aching muscles, feeling the tiredness of having done something good for me seep through every vessel as I paced myself after a push for the next telephone pole, the next fire hydrant, the next exhilarating high.
I used to.
I look around my physical fitness world and realize, I've got too many used to's in my vocabulary. And used to's ain't no fun. Used to's don't keep me fit. Used to's keep me stuck in thinking what was is good enough. Used to's keep me pacing past bests and out of personal bests today.
My personal best today is to give myself the grace of doing what I love -- I may not be able to do it for 2 hours, or even one, but my personal best means I can do it for as long as it feels right. I may never run another Marathon. I may never run as fast or as fleet as I did in the past. But I love running. Love the sense of freedom, of aloneness, of rightness when my body is in motion. I love the feeling when I 'do it'. It's not about time or distance. It's not about the gear or the competition. It's about doing it for the love of it.
Today, I'm getting out of my used to's and donning my I am's. I am a fearless woman. I am a vibrant, whole human being. I am a woman who loves to run, with the wolves, with the spirit, with herself. I am a woman who loves running. I am free.
Bye. Bye. Used to's.