It’s funny the things that stick with you from certain movies.
When I think about 2016 you know what movie scene comes to my mind? The one in which Steve Rogers, pre-Captain America, gets beat up by some dude in an alley.
But I don’t focus on the beating. I’m looking at the getting up.
I got to give a talk this month about the Chumbawumba Tubthumping effect of the past year to a group of runners who also showed up in a big way again and again. It was at the awards banquet for the Titletown Wellness Race Series, which includes several Green Bay area races.
I am not sure whether to chalk up to karma or irony that I was asked to speak about a year of running at the end one that focused — for me — a lot more on life and a lot less on running?
But there I was, trying to sum up the accomplishment of kicking off the covers morning after morning after morning to get my run on. So that’s what I focused on — the showing up.
Thank goodness for mother runner writer Amy Blake, who provided such an amazing framework for this focus. As she trained for a marathon in 2015, this runner from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wrote about showing up in a way that inspires me to this day.
"I realized that despite my shortcomings — and I have oh so many — the one thing I can claim competence at is waking up early and getting my run done before work. (Note: I didn’t say I was good at running, because I don’t want to give a false impression that I am a gifted runner. But showing up? Ticking workouts off a calendar? I can do that."
I know, right? I can vividly remember calling to mind Amy’s words about ‘showing up’ in the last mile of the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon in the spring and just repeating it over and over and over.
Show up. Show up. Show up.
This ‘showing up’ theme seemed the perfect chord to strike as I stood in front of a room full of people who had done races throughout 2016. They ran the Bellin Run 10K. The Shanty Days 5K. The City Stadium Run for Veterans 5K. The Bellin Women’s Half Marathon. The Baird Creek Run for the Hill of It 5K. The Festival Foods 5-mile Turkey Trot.
From June to November, these folks showed up. And those are just race days. Let’s not forget the mornings that were cold and dark and the evenings that were hot and sticky. It didn’t matter; they ran.
I told them about my less-than-ideal year of running too. Because that’s what happens sometimes, I said. Sometimes you have a training plan with a perfectly linear map of miles and days.
And sometimes life has other plans.
We moved in June and we’re still putting in the time, effort and money to make our place our home. I had a summer of traveling to Ohio — from mourning the passing of my grandfather in July to celebrating my sister’s upcoming nupitals. And then the wedding in October that went from joyous and scary when my sister suffered diabetic ketoacidosis and she had to leave her amazing reception on a stretcher headed to the ER.
While I didn’t take home any of the awards handed out at the banquet this month, I felt like something in the universe had cosmically aligned to bring me to a celebration with those who did get a personally engraved plaque.
My award: I can say that I didn’t give up on running this year despite … well, everything. When I could, I got up early and ran. And when I couldn’t, I didn’t beat up myself about it.
Guilt is a feeling I know well. I know what it’s like coming from someone else and I know what it’s like to put it on myself. I may have done less running in 2016 than the previous year, but I also did less feeling guilty.
And that is reason to celebrate … and look ahead to the next adventure.