It’s Christmas Day and I am currently hiding from my family.
“Hiding” may not be totally accurate. It’s more that we’ve hit the mid-Christmas lull between breakfast and presents and phone calls but it’s not quite time for the dinner and log, which is a dessert my husband’s mother always made but that we’ve never found a better name for than “log.” And, no, it’s not a fancy Yule log. It’s just pepperminty and whipped creamy and, well, log-y.
In Christmases past, I’ve napped during the lull because the kids would have woken us up before dawn. The kids are older now. We had to wake the Teen up at 8 because everyone else was starving.
Insert a chorus of “Sunrise, Sunset” here.
As I type this, everyone else in the house is off doing who knows what during the lull. I can hear the black-and-white version of A Christmas Carol my mother-in-law has fallen asleep in front of. My husband is outside playing soccer with our dog in the snow. The kids are in the basement with Mario Kart and blissfully not bickering. I decided to take this window of time to do a thing that brings me joy: talking about running.
What? You too?
It’s been weird running-wise, mostly because it’s been weird, life-wise ever since I got back from volunteering at the NYC marathon. (Just as a refresher: I MET SHALANE FLANANGAN! I’m still unreasonably excited by this — and likely will be well into the new year.)
In terms of my own running, I’ve been squeezing it in where I can. First there was Election Day (which I’ll get to in a minute), then Thanksgiving, then a trip to Florida to visit my mom, then Christmas. And in between, there’s been my actual job-job, some behind-the-scenes AMR stuff, some in-front-of-the-scenes AMR stuff at the Philly marathon, and, oh yeah, my children and husband and dog. The last six weeks have been an exercise in careening from barely extinguished fire to another.
Somewhere in the middle of that I caught some kind of phlegmy-coughy nightmare that knocked me on my behind for a week. I did single handedly increase the bottom line of Nyquil’s parent company, however. I’m certain their stockholders will be sending me a thank you note any day now. When the coughing stopped, it was in the single digits and the sidewalk was a sheet of ice. At some point, you just have to admit you’ve been beaten.
Which brings me around to Election Day.
This spring, I decided to run for a seat on my local county board. My reasons were many but, mostly, they revolved around no longer being a passive observer of the political process and knowing that more women in government generally means better outcomes for all. If nothing else, the seat needed to be contested because the incumbent needed to know his constituents were paying attention.
The last few months have been learning experiences, if by “learning experiences" you mean “oh, crap, I wish I’d learned that a few days ago when it would have been useful.” I knocked on a lot of doors. I didn't barf during a public debate. I knocked on more doors. I had uncomfortable conversations with people who didn’t agree with me. There were yard signs and mailers and handouts. It was hard and sometimes fun and always outside of my comfort zone. I kept reminding myself that I’d run a marathon and that if I could do that, I could do this. I made sure to hydrate.
By Election Day, I knew I’d done all I’d could as well as I could and it was no longer in my hands. I made it to the finish line in one piece and upright. I honestly didn’t care if I won — and I didn’t think I would. Incumbents, even in small districts, are hard to unseat. But my running was never about winning, in all meanings of the word “running."
Then I won — by all of 27 votes. I will be sworn in on January 1. Which is so not a thing I would have imagined even a year ago.
I’ve spent the weeks since realizing just how vast the chasm is between what I know about how local governments work and how much I need to know in order to do the job well. And I want to do the job well; otherwise, why even bother? What would be most helpful is a quick law degree with maybe an even quicker degree in public policy. Instead, all I have is the ability to absorb information relatively quickly and take nutrition while making relentless forward progress. Like with my actual running, I’m making the best with what I have.
Speaking of, I managed to get out for a long run on Christmas Eve day. It certainly wasn’t fast or pretty. I also had to keep reminding myself to stand up straight and pick up my feet. But it felt good, even when I was ready to stop, which was a few miles before I actually could. I spent the rest of the afternoon buoyed by the miles I’d gotten in, even if they fell short of the miles I’d meant to do all month. And I might have chosen eggnog as my recovery beverage.
How has your year-end gone, running-wise or otherwise?