The paradigm shifts, shifts again then moves a step to the left

Posted: 03/22/2014 in Uncategorized
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It’s one of those runner things, at least it’s one of *my* running things, and particularly for half-marathons, that all through training my focus tends towards finish lines. I think of times and goals and crossing the blue timing mats and if I’ll need to kick in the last mile and the beer afterward and what it’s going to feel like when I’m done and how bad I’m going to hurt afterward and and and.  I think of hard parts on the course and get myself in mental check to work through them, coach myself well. I consider any struggle points I might encounter. Then race week arrives and like someone clunked me on the head, my thoughts shift.  To the starting line. From the end to the beginning.

I have been up since 3:38AM, with the house quiet and no coffee, in a form of meditation. (Yes, I’m still on meditation as a topic – for another post.) It’s made me a bit stoic. It’s now approaching 9AM – which has left a lot of time for thinking and shifts in thinking – which is when I realized I was thinking of this photograph. I didn’t take it, though I did clean it up a bit. It’s one of Eric’s pics and I am somewhere in that line of people.  Almost a year ago I was gathering in that early morning mist with all those other people, in the shadow of Keeneland about to take off for 7-miles. I’d had the great fortune to run into some friends who I didn’t know were going to be there and we were chatting it up, trying not to squander the energy that excitement brings before the starting gun goes off. It was PERFECT race weather.

I have lost track of the number of starting lines at which I have stood.  And to be perfectly honest, when I think of starting lines – in general – I do not think of this one.

I think of concrete, and long lines for porta-potties. 25-30,000 people jostling to find the right spot to launch their run. The last time I did the Flying Pig, the crowds were so thick – even on the sidelines – that you had to move through them single file. SO. MANY. PEOPLE. It’s hard to stay with your friends. It’s exciting and fun, too – don’t get me wrong – but also claustrophobic and tedious and it can feel like it takes days to get the race started as the waves creep forward, pause, creep forward, pause. For me, all I can think about is how to simultaneously get the heck away from all of these people – find a pocket of air, room to move – and not get swept up by the crowd pace as I try to find my race lost in all these other races.

I do not think of green space – wide, well-manicured lawns. Or room to stretch while in the corral chatting it up with my buds. I do not think of having  all the air I can breathe and that there will be plenty of time to take care of all the things I need to do before start. I don’t think of the after-party, where it will only take me moments to get a beer and the line to get stretched out by a physical therapist is short. I do not think of how Eric is able to be chatting it up right there with me and taking pictures until he steps out of bounds just before race start. There are 5000 people here and it never feels crowded or uncomfortable.

The start feels like an awesome parade and the end feels like the best lawn party ever thrown at my neighbor’s house.

It strikes me again how different this run is.

Run the Bluegrass is in ONE WEEK. The forecast is about identical to the day that happened in the photo above.

I am so completely excited that so many of my running friends are coming this year – it is going to be an AMAZING WEEKEND!

An interesting part is that I can say that, even having found out that I won’t be able to run it this year. The knee thing.  Doc says it’s a no-go – not even to walk it. Yoga is helping, so I can still do all of that, but trying this race would not be a good idea. The paradigm shifts again, from end to start, to how to not start. DNS. Grrrr. But it’s the right thing.  This is another thing that speaks to this run and these good people – I cannot think of any other race that, knowing I was DNS, I would still go spend an entire weekend on the race.  And it’s not about the yoga class. And it’s not about the friends I have going – they would understand. It’s that this race is bigger than a race – it’s an experience. I don’t want to miss it. Even if I can’t run it, I can still be there close to the start line and finish line with my friends, I can do the tours, I can take pictures, I can party at the Griffin Gate. I CAN CHEERLEAD MY MF-ing ASS OFF FOR ALL THESE RUNNERS!!

I will not be lost there in a sea of people and concrete. I will be around 5000 people that I consider friends. This race is so very different.

Marr & Rachel tell me that my first yoga class on Sunday has sold out, and so we added a second. I have been writing, rewriting and tweaking again this yoga class in my mind for weeks – months – now.

It boggles me that this is actually happening.


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