Monday, August 27, 2012

A Job to Be Done

Banana Slug by Moonlight. Van 2, PTC relay 8/2012

The kids are back in school. Ambivalence meets excitement meets mourning a summer gone meets the widening of the social circle, that last thing being highly beneficial for the teen of the species. And, of course, it is fall, thus cross country season.  Cross country season! CROSS COUNTRY SEASON!

I ran today, just easy for 45 minutes. I am calling it my official first day of training for the 50 mile ultra next year. Here's my plan: run far, and get faster. While running today I did not devise anything more definitive than that. But I did contemplate the thing I did/witnessed this weekend. This thing was on my top 10 list of the most memorable, inspiring things I have done in my life. And I didn't even run.

This is what I am talking about:

With 12 teenagers, 3 adults and me. Also 2 banana slugs (see above picture), named James and Marlene. Locals will know why.

There are no words, but of course I will need to try to word-paint a picture:
Life changing, exhausting, and hilarious. 2 days in a van with smelly, wonderful kids. Surreal visions, surreal conversations. Chaos. A primal scream at pre-dawn. A sky heavy with stars and the milky way. Fierce competition softened by teenage pop music. Singing children to wakefulness on a field in the cold, wee hours of the morning. Watching children who are really just about adults feel blissful and sure of themselves.
Two quotes:
First, when my iPod was turned on to entertain the van: "Elvis Costello? Did he play with Lawrence Welk?"
Second, and this one came more than once: "This is the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life!"

But my favorite quote is one that could be found in a Zen manual or it could be a quote from Atticus Finch. It moved me near to tears while also making me laugh. I think I will use it in my own life, for night shifts, for tough parenting days. And for 50 mile runs. This quote came after a predawn leg of the relay, from a very tired young woman who left a warm sleeping bag, strapped on a head lamp and ran, fast, into the dark.

"I just told myself: There is a job to be done."

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Congratulations on surviving the race. I will have to remember the last quote. Awesome and poignant. The comment about Elvis Costello is funny. But teens, no matter the decade, will be teens. I look forward to reading about your preparation for the 50 mile ultra.