Sunday, April 24, 2011

Learning to Walk


It's a beautiful day 
Sky falls, you feel like 
It's a beautiful day 
Don't let it get away 
U2

It was a beautiful day from start to finish; from the beautiful text message from a friend waiting on my phone at 5:15 AM encouraging me to have a great run, to the pre-run meeting at U of M, to the run itself, to the post-run breakfast, to the many laughs along the trail, to the glorious sun-soaked nap with my cat purring at my side, to this full bodied Californian Paso Robles swirling over my tongue as I blog.  Yes friends, it was a beautiful day.  

To put the day in perspective I draw attention to the 50-ish man walking toward us this morning on Wellington Crescent.  Clearly, he was learning to walk following a stroke. I noticed him from about a block away walking with all the tell-tale signs that indicate stroke recuperation. As we approached, all strong and healthy and confident, I felt him stand taller.  His back straightened, his pace smoothed, his stride lengthened. His movement became visibly fluid as we closed the distance.

As we converged I felt him willing his muscles to fire smoothly.  I felt him say damn it, walk as if to show us that he is one of us; that he too was strong and confident and proud. Our eyes locked as we flashed by on our own separate destinations, his a block or two, mine 23 miles.  We returned a pitiful man-nod that says "hi-ya-buddy" but means nothing. I truly wanted to stop and and grab him by the shoulders and tell him that he's an amazing individual, a strong man, a model for us, a model for his children.  But I didn't, the man-code forbids this behaviour.  Instead, my thoughts turned to the preciousness of life and the will to be strong and viable.  It was a beautiful moment textured gently into a beautiful day.

We departed from U of M at about 7:15 AM and ran the marathon route minus 3 miles.  The weather was idyllic and the company, our little group of dreamers, continues to gell.  The trust we show one another is evident of a strong and passionate group.  The laughter comes freer and more honestly than weeks previous.  We are focussed and we discuss strategy, but we're more about the moment, more about the journey (cliche alert), we are runners.

At mile 18 or 19 the muscles start to ache and the legs become leaden. If one is going to bonk this is usually the distance that it starts.  This is where your brain becomes susceptible to negativity. This is where the race begins to suck and defeatist thoughts creep into the brain.  Bill reminded us of the power of "embracing the suck".  Yes, your body hurts.  Yes, it would be nice to stop.  Yes, life sucks here and now.  The power in embracing the suck is to use all this negativity is a way that will help and not hinder.  Thus, embrace the suck. Use it to propel yourself forward. Embrace it. Accept it. Understand that it's part of the life force of running a marathon.  


Yes, the life force... it's all we have.  


It was beautiful day.


Mike

PS  The U2 song, Beautiful Day was played at the start of the 10.10.10 Chicago Marathon.  So appropriate!

It's a good day to be alive, eh?



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