Monday, November 12, 2007

Mile Markers

Remember how much I hated the mile markers on my first 5K? This time around I enjoyed them. It was nice to have time keepers there and they also reaffirmed my own growing sense of distances. I was pretty accurate in predicting when I should start looking for them and that made me feel competent. I think I’m a competent runner. Seeing those words on the screen as I type them is still so surreal. I found my stride pretty easily on this run. I found the sound of my breathing to be relaxing and almost hypnotic. I actively appreciated my surroundings and wondered at how much more manicured the park is now than it was 15+ years ago. I could picture my teenage self hanging out on the path and I could see myself through her eyes and I was impressed. I kept pace with more people than I thought I could. I passed some folks. There was a first year male associate from my firm who recently completed a bootcamp in Piedmont park running. He started off fast, but then he had stopped to take a break at the top of a hill after the first mile and I cruised past him, then he passed me, then he stopped again and walked, and I passed him and so we went back and forth. Except he started passing me less often. I even hazarded the thought that I would actually beat this much younger, taller guy but he rallied on the final downhill and passed me, beating me by mere seconds at the finish line. I felt the urge to quip at him that “slow and steady wins the race” but I think I wisely kept my mouth shut, especially considering he did take me right at the finish. As we approached the finish I initially focused on trying to sprint past him but when I noticed the clock was at 36:04 I realized that I still had a chance to make a full 4 minute improvement over Candler Park so my focus shifted to besting myself instead of him. Those final 5 seconds were so in slow motion but I felt so strong lengthening my stride to beat the clock and when my friend Shane and my son said I looked fast coming through the finish chute I couldn’t disagree with them.

High on my success, I’m actually thinking of tackling another 5K this Saturday (based in no small part on the constant encouragement of my bootcamp instructor Jojo). I had to miss bootcamp this morning because I didn’t have anyone to hang with my son so doing something active on Saturday will help me feel like it was a complete week. And this 5K is being organized by Paideia, a private school which I actually attended from 3rd – 5th grade. It will begin and end on that campus (which admittedly has grown a LOT since the early 1980’s) so it will be another opportunity to connect with my central self from long ago. I have many good memories of my time there. Although I hated PE there as much as I hated it at any school I remember it being less oppressive, less terrorizing than PE in the public schools I attended the rest of the time. I gained some competence at foursquare there, and I learned to hang upside down by my knees on a bar and flip over to the ground, something I used to do over and over because it felt cool and I was so amazed I could do it. We also went an annual overnight camping trips with our class and I remember completing a 6 mile hike on our third grade trip that made me as proud as if I had scaled Everest. So it feels like it would be the right thing to do to participate and help them raise money for their financial aid program.

I’ve started my own mile marker program at home. We have a large walk in / dressing closet where we keep all of our clothes along with a full length mirror. I’ve spent a lot of time criticizing myself in that mirror. When I got home Saturday I took the number from the Candler Park race and noted the distance, date, and my time on it with a sharpie. I did the same thing with my number from Kids Chance. I then put them on the wall above the mirror. The mirror is not on a huge wall, but it will take a while to cover it with numbers. Anytime I’m standing there feeling critical, that wall of numbers will stand there demanding that I acknowledge them . . . and acknowledge myself. I am more than a dress form. I am more than my weight. I am a runner. I am a bootcamp vet. The feelings that accompany those acts of fitness are not measurable on any scale. The spirit is weightless when it soars.

No comments: