Friday, August 1, 2014

For the love of the sport

I never quite know what I'll write about day to day. Usually something in the day strikes my fancy and gets my gears turning and I type for a while. Right now the thing striking my fancy started with a facebook post from my cousin's wife. I've met her once or twice at family reunions, but don't actually know her yet because there were always lots of small people in need of our attention and family reunions can be kind of awkward. (Or maybe that's just me?) Although I'm now confident than when we meet again we'll be buddies. Facebook is kind of cool like that.

Anyway, she is training for a behemoth of a bike race through mountains and valleys and lots of other wild things that this amateur bike around the neighborhood person thinks is pure insanity. 188 miles in two days, people. Amazing! She was killing her training, racking up miles and feeling confident. Until she wasn't. Then self doubt crept in, or maybe careened in, and everything felt hard and impossible and she wondered what she was thinking signing up for such a big race. She posted a snippet on Facebook about her struggles and then her triumph. One day she muttered a silent prayer to help her get her head back in the game and to help her enjoy biking again. She finished her prayer and went out on a short training ride and was reminded, in both big and little ways, why she loves doing this and the strength she possesses inside and that the journey she has embarked upon is about so much more than the finish line.

Friends and family chimed in to lift her spirits and support her and remind her of her awesomeness. Because that's what athletes do.
Support for Moms on the Run racers

I'm not talking about professional athletes, although I'm sure many of them are great, too. Not the athletes you see on TV every weekend during the NBA season or every four years during the Olympics. Not the athletes you read about in the paper, getting corporate sponsorships and winning World Cups.

Just regular ol' people. People like me.

Grown-ups who will never get first place in any race, much less become an Olympian. Grown-ups who wake up early, get dressed in the dark and sneak down the stairs, knowing just which one has the creak, so they don't wake the kids up as they head out for their BCOD (Butt Crack Of Dawn) run or bike or training session. Grown-ups who may never PR again, but who keep training for the love of the sport and the love of the community. Grown-ups who keep biking or running or playing soccer or basketball because their body craves it and their mind needs it. Grown-ups who don't care about glory or accolades, but care that their kids see the power and beauty found in strength and activity and the lifelong pursuit of goals. Grown-ups who use a planned workout to clear their minds for the rest of the unplanned craziness that inevitably happens every single day.

We have cut quads. We have love handles. We have breasts droopy from breastfeeding. We have ripped biceps. We have stretch marks. We have beer bellies. We have tight abs. We have cellulite. We have chafing thighs.

We have all of that. But we have so much more.

We have heart.

We have a little voice within us that says we can.

We can run those hill repeats.

We can hit that jump shot.

We can swim that distance.

We can do what we set our mind to do.

Together we can.

Because on my own I can't. I falter. I want to give up. The self doubt shouts while the confidence whimpers. But there are always, always people who call me or show up at my house to run with me or hold the baby while I go or inspire me to get out there and move and do the thing I love. The thing that makes me better at all the other parts of my life. The thing that feels simple and free when the rest of the world feels so, so very hard.

Thanks to Sarah for the reminder that there are hard rides and bad runs and rotten days. But there is beauty in the journey. There are friends to pick us up along the way. There are more miles to run.

Isn't that just life for you? Hard and messy and lovely all at once? Running is both my metaphor for life and my antidote to life's insanity. What's yours?

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