On the day you read this, provided it is the same day it is posted, I’ll officially be halfway on the journey to my 90th birthday. (If you read this on any other day, I’ll leave it up to you to do the math.)
No, this isn’t a shameless ploy to get more people to wish me a happy birthday — although I’ll happily accept any wishes that come my way — it’s that this day is an opportunity to get all philosophical and stuff. Besides, it gives me a theme. Who doesn’t love a theme?
Will I make it to 90? Eh. Who knows? Genetically the odds are in my favor. I could, however, get hit by a bus this afternoon. That’s the thing about life. One just never knows — and it’s taken me nearly 45 years to really accept that. Actually, I’ve moved past mere acceptance. It’s taken me 45 years to embrace the idea of going ahead and doing something you’ve been merely dreaming about, just because there could be a bus just around the corner.
The bus, of course, is a metaphor, unless it’s an actual bus, in which case, maybe you shouldn’t have had “crossing the street without looking” on your list of lifelong dreams.
While a birthday that ends in 0 or 5 is always a great time to take stock, what really triggered this bout of navel gazing was last weekend’s long run. The weather here had warmed up enough that the cemetery on my route opened its gates for the season. I know opinions differ but I’m a fan of running among the dead. Granted, I do my best to not be a dick about it. If there are mourners actively mourning, I’ll steer clear. Otherwise, I find it peaceful to read the names on the stones I run past, to look at the memorabilia left behind, and to remember that this, in some form, is waiting for us all.
Which I’m finally old enough to just begin to make peace with.
That long run was also the first time in many months that I’d gotten to run by Lolo Reed, whose name sticks with you. I can’t help but think she would have been a BAMR and I smile each time I pass her.
Other than my few moments of mobile meditation among the stones, my ten mile long run was pretty typical for springtime in these parts: I spent the first five miles being pelted by sleet, three in the middle staring into blinding sunshine, and the last two in freezing rain. Fortunately for me, my long run was the day before the epic (and not far from me) Syracuse Half Marathon, which you just have to see to believe.
Go look. I can wait.
RIGHT? If you were there, I hope your (bad) ass-icle has thawed by now. You are a freaking Viking. Or slightly mentally ill. Or, like many of us, a charming combination of both.
If you’d told me 4.5 years ago (which is when I took my first shaky and wheezy steps in a Couch-to-5K program and was 100 percent certain that I’d never make it through a full mile), that I’d have more than a few half marathon medals on my wall, I’d know you’d spent too much time outside in the sun without a hat. But I’m older now -- and know that the bus you never saw coming is exactly the one that will take you where you need to go, even if you didn’t know that you needed to go there.
I try to keep all of this in mind when I start to think about the New York City Marathon in November, which I’m running under the umbrella of Every Mother Counts.* I’ve spent more time than is seemly quietly freaking out about all of it: the training, the race, the fundraising, the very idea that at mile 20, I’ll still have more than an hour of running left. A recent issue of Runner's World eased me off of the ledge, thanks to this bit of advice from one Mark Remy:
I’m old enough now to not hide from the fear but, rather, to run through it.
* You know what would be a great gift for my halfway-to-90 birthday? Getting halfway-to-my-fundraising-goal for Every Mother Counts. And, no, I ain’t to proud to beg, just like the man sang.
Question of the week: what is the one running-related gift (tangible or otherwise) that you wish someone would give you?