Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seven days until my trials attempt....

I'm sitting in Starbucks, working on a book review that will be in Mary, the literary journal published by the school I'm currently attending for an MFA in creative writing (nonfiction.) Here I am: dressed better than I usually am, which means no running gear. Today I'm in a skirt (a shock, I know) and tights and boots looking about as artsy as a tomboy like me can. Just a minute or so ago, this man came up to me and said: "When is your race?"

And I answered because that's about all I think about these days. My race, the California International Marathon. 26.2 miles. How I plan to run 6:20 pace for most of it, but hope to have a bit of kick at the end to maybe drop just slightly below the 2:46 B qualifying standard.

But after I answered, I wondered: how on earth does he know about my race? 

I checked my table: no evidence there. I don't have a bib pinned to my chest. I don't even have running shoes on. 

I think my confusion filtered through my smile. 

That's in like, seven days, he said, this man I kept looking at to see if I knew him from somewhere: another race? The running store I go to in Concord more often than I should? The Nike running store in Emeryville where I drool over clothing I won't buy because I'm poor and in graduate school. But no, I hadn't seen him in any of those places. 

The confusion remained on my face. 

I see you practicing. On the track sometimes, he said. Ah. The track at a local high school. Now that made sense. I nodded and smiled to the man, and thanked him for his kind wishes. 

And you know, I'm glowing right now. I feel-- well, let's just say it: I feel sort of famous. And I feel like what I'm doing is important. People SEE me. Kids see me. Grown men see me. Moms see me. I thought, starting out, that my running was just about me. But the more I run, the more I'm starting to understand that athletics (after a certain point) become ABOUT other people and not just the athlete. That my achievements are mine, yes, but also Steve's (who puts up with me) and my professors who ask me about this crazy thing I do, and my friends who support me through those dark moments when doubt overwhelms me. My success is owed to my family-- my mom and sister-- who are so much a part of me, we are (at the level of souls) inseparable. My strength comes from others; my success is owed to them. 

And, I hope I can be an inspiration to others. I don't expect-- nor deserve-- the Nike banner on my chest, but I hope in some small way my running might make someone, somewhere go after their pie in the sky dream, whatever it is. Mine was marathon running: and look at me now. I'm going to run a marathon next Sunday. Regardless of the time I run it in, I really could not be happier. If I can give some other person that kind of happiness, I will be eternally fulfilled.

So, from a small corner of a not-so-special Starbucks, I hope my marathon-induced glow reaches you, my reader.


Dansko Fan said...

Participation is more important than winning in a competition, all the best for your Marathon Run.

R said...

I think so, too, Dansko. Thanks for reading.