There is this obscure movie from the ’70s that my mom loved when I was younger, “Running” starring Michael Douglas.  It’s about this guy who is a kind of a loser, with a failed marriage and a reputation for never finishing anything.  The one thing he was good at was marathon running, and his one way of redemption in the eyes of everyone around him was to do well at the Montreal Olympic games.  I don’t remember all of the specifics, but I do remember  that towards the end of the movie (spoiler alert), he was running the race of his life.  Then he fell, and once again, he seemingly didn’t follow through on something.  But he picked himself up and, though his face was beat up and disfigured from the fall and he was hobbling with hard-core injuries, he made his way into Olympic Stadium with a crowd on its feet cheering for him – finally, finally a finisher.  He may have been last – or nearly last – but he did it.

This is kind of how I felt this morning.

I declared a few months back that I was training for a half-marathon.  Unfortunately, my training was derailed several times by the Winter of Illness.  After the head cold, I went right back to training.  After the cold/flu, I resumed training, but every time I did, I got sick again.  This went on for about three weeks, until I finally gave in and gave my body a rest.  And right before the stomach flu, I’d gotten back on the treadmill, but that illness had me crying mercy.  (Among many other things.)  After this three month spell, running was pretty much out of the question.

Not wanting to give up, I decided keeping my word to myself was important.  So, I stuck to my commitment, altering it slightly so that now I’d be walking the half-marathon instead of running.  Everyone still thought I was insane.  I tried not to think about it too much, mainly because I agreed with them.

The race conditions this morning were not ideal, at least not for me the non-runner.  It was chilly – in the 40s – and it rained the entire time.  I chose to see it as a baptism of a journey with an uncertain outcome.

I dug deep.

The first mile was an eternity, but I kept going.  Somewhere between Mile 3 and 4, Lady GaGa kicked in on my iPod and gratitude filled my soul.  Momentarily.  Let me just say that it is especially humbling when the leader of the race passes you on her SECOND loop around the park, when you aren’t even halfway through the first one.

Many naysayers say not to listen to music during a run (or walk).  They don’t know what they are talking about.  Music saved me, my grace of the day.  I developed close and personal friendships with Eminem, George Michael, Janet Jackson and Coldplay.  (Yes, an eclectic mix.)

Oh, and Jesus.  He is now my homeboy.  We talked a lot during the walk.

Especially during Mile 8, when I was convinced I was dying because my left arm had suddenly gone numb.  I was pretty sure I needed to stop, because I was clearly having a heart attack or something.  Knowing I made it more than halfway had to be enough.  Then Steve Perry started singing the song I put in the playlist as a joke, just in case I some needed cheesy, nostalgic inspiration.

Don’t Stop Believing.  I took it as a sign.  I now had a friend from above, after all.

I slowed down, was gentle with myself and took it easy for a while.  I learned that by the time you are 10 miles in, it is downright silly to stop.  So I didn’t.

I dug as deep as I could go.  I am in awe of my body and the journey it took me on today.

And I did it.  I finished. With strangers cheering me on as I crossed the finish line, I felt euphoric.

I achieved something great today.  I achieved the thing I thought I could not do.

Advertisements