Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hypothermic Half Marathon, Race Report

Today I feel as though I let an old friend down. A little over a year ago Michael died from a rare cancer. He was a Buddhist, a poet and a photographer. Michael inspired thousands with his courage and his wisdom. He had an office job, but his soul was invested his in his art. Today I ran for Michael. I scrawled his poem, Fatigue (a poem he wrote days before his death), on my bib and intended to use several of its lines as my mantra as I fatigued.
But blessings of blessings.
I can still feel the life force.
I can still feel the life force.
I was unable to finish today's race. At mile 1.92 (I checked) my left calf exploded and I came to a painful grinding halt... dead in the water, cacked. Eighteen weeks of relentless training in sub-zero weather for what? 1.92 miles! Yes, I was deeply disappointed and I was angry... with myself. As runners swarmed past I masked the pain behind a weak smile and reassured them, best I could, that I was alright. But I was so deeply disappointed in myself.
I am strong, I run marathons, and I can barely walk!?
So many runners stopped to offer assistance and encouragement. They were kind and concerned with my wellbeing. One walker even offered me her pole. I was remined how fortunate I am to run with such an amazing community.
As I hobbled back to the start line, freezing in the thin layers (where was the damn sweep anyway?) I thought of Michael. With thick fingers I removed my bib and read his poem aloud as I limped along the trail, homeward. I read the poem several times, silently, and then out loud. It became peaceful, and in that moment, that fleeting moment frozen in time, I understood the life force which Michael so eloquently described. The sun warmed my face. The wind evaporated.
My injury is nothing, my disappointment merely a simple quirk of human nature. I should be celebrating the life force, not feeling disappointment. Disappointment is such a egocentric state of mind. I will heal and I will run. Next time I will succeed.
A Reminder to myself.
Living life to its fullest
isn't about
checking off thrills from a list;
It's about being fearless in following my dreams,
courageous in accepting
that some will go unfulfilled
and taking the time to savor
something as simple
as a cup
of tea
It was a good day to be alive and I captured a bit of the life force at the finish line. Thanks all for such a wonderful journey.Thank you Michael for your strength.
Mike
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