Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Unfolding the Shadowy Time

When you see other people's children driving, the same children you remember toddling around the playground or climbing the tree at the farmer's market, it can be disconcerting. Is it that you are now that old(er) person you once associated with fat middles and embarrassing clothing combinations? Has time condensed and folded so that the part between then and now is in the shadow of years spent frantically getting things done, working, buying stuff for your home, attending school functions, and feeling inadequate next to all of the stay at home Moms and their high achieving youngsters? If you unfolded that shadowy time, would sunlight reveal it as worse than you imagine or not nearly as bad as what makes you stay up at night wishing you could redo it, only better?

When you see your own child driving, uncertainty and pride alternately make your head pop off and your heart burst. So, when not visiting the neurosurgeon or cardiologist to tend to these ailments, you sit back in the passenger seat and realize those people you wanted to punch out when they gazed longingly at your little muddy crazed toddler twerps saying "oh, savor this, it goes so fast"were not such the assholes you thought they were at the time.

Speaking of assholes, who really thinks it is OK to charge $30 for a single, often ugly, picture of yourself running a marathon? That being said, I want proof, dang it, so sue me.

Sue me.

Once someone asked me, existentially, in regards to my running habit:
"What are you running away from?"

This made me laugh and fume. First of all, being able to run away from things is an underrated skill. I rarely walk down a creepy street with some creepy lurking guy without being able to say to myself, I could outrun that creepy guy. Also, in terms of threatening wildlife, being fit is useful. Once my cross country team leaped over a rattlesnake on a single track trail, with high pitched screams, but not a single  bite. This was in the days before you had to sign a waiver for any activity even remotely involving potential bodily, emotional or self-esteem harm. I am fairly certain my parents never even knew about the snake leaping run. Nor the fact that 20 girls were unceremoniously hauled in the back of Coach's pickup truck to the woods for the run in the first place. Ah, the good old days. Outrunning a mountain lion or snarling dog is unlikely, but as a friend once said to me regarding such situations: you just have to be able to outrun the guy with you.
Second of all, just because I am plagued with uncertainty and anxiety regarding the lives of my children and my patients and my 15 year old border collie and my dusty piano keys and our unbelievably broken healthcare system and the 70 year old meth addicts in my community, why should I feel bad about coping by going for a run? As they say, it could be worse. I mean, I could be a triathlete.

When I ran today with my teenager, we saw seals. The ocean smelled nice. It rained a little. I was not sore. Three days after a marathon. Every other marathon I have done gifted me with at least a week of hobbling. Weird.

And the marathon itself was begun with such uncertainty that I went into it a little bemused and a lot discouraged by my lack of running for the few weeks prior. It started at 5:32 AM. The bomb squad was waiting by the start, looking bored. For which I was grateful. After the flashlight search of my Gu-filled fanny pack, I sat under the dawn, in the shadows, unfolding my sleepy body. The boys choir sang the anthem. The elites were off. Then my wave. I was, as I always seem to be in city marathons, surrounded by people speaking German. The sun came up. We ran over the Golden Gate and back again. And I just waited, certain that soon I would be seized by cramps or the complete inability to go on. We glided up and down the Richmond hills. Into the park. I got drunk on eucalyptus fumes, and I passed a guy dressed like Peter Pan who looked like he might cry. Still feeling good, but knowing that those last 6 miles are not merciful, I cautiously started pulling some negative splits. A cafe full of Haight-Ashburians screamed for us on the sidewalk. I passed 21 miles. I knew that this time I was not going to crash and burn. So then I smiled like a complete fool the rest of the way. People laughed at me for smiling.

It seems like German would be a tiring language to speak while running 26.2 miles.

I have absolutely no clue what happens next.

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