I may not be the oldest or wisest person in town … I am blessed to have not felt the heartbreak of losing a parent, or the disappointment in missing the final shot to win a game for my team.
… but I have been blessed to experience some amazing moments in my 24 years on this little planet.
Moments which inevitably made me the impatient, emotional and demanding woman I am today!!
I kid. I kid.
But really there are a few moments I can recall which I believe had a direct affect on some major life choices I have made in recent months. Most notably (and relative :)) is the day I packed my life in to ONE suitcase, boarded a train and moved from everyothersmalltowninthemidwest to New York, New York.
For as long as my closest friends/family have known me I always said I would live in New York.
For as long as my closest friends/family have known me I was always a chronic procrastinator.
For as long as my closest friends/family have known me I was always a home-body.
So needless to say when I bought my one way Amtrak ticket from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Penn Station in New York City everyone was shocked.
I didn’t have an apartment, a job that provided me with a paycheck (I was there for a royalty free internship), or a clue.
(But in my 22 year old mind, those were just details … silly details which I couldn’t be inconvenienced with.)
Even now, when I close my eyes I can still smell the street meat cart on the corner of 33rd and 7th, see the flashing lights of Madison Square Garden and feel the cool breeze that funneled down the street on that crisp fall night when I emerged from the underground hub. I was instantly overwhelmed. It became flight or fight, and kids – I was ready to rumble!
The following morning I rose with the sun … or was it the dump truck, taxi horn, or general noise which was reverberating from outside the window … either way, when I woke up, it was early. I grabbed a cup of coffee, and the Post (which became my morning routine) and headed from the couch I was sleeping on in the East Village up towards Central Park. I quickly realized thanks to the wonderfully undependable MTA that it was the morning of the New York City Marathon! I was a wee bit skeptical of the whole thing, thinking to myself
“How much fun can it really be to watch a bunch of people running down the street??”,
… but I managed to finagle my way right up against the barrier on the north side of Central Park South near Columbus Circle. There were thousands, probably tens of thousands of people lined up on the curbs as far as the eye could see. Some groups wore t-shirts emblazoned with photographs of loved ones, others were wearing colors which depicted charities/causes they supported. There were thundersticks, air horns and cow bells (I felt right at home!).
For the first hour or so we waited. Straining our necks, glaring east along CPS waiting to get our first glimpse of someone, anyone. I had had about enough waiting, figuring there were other things to be doing on my first day in the city then standing there twiddling my thumbs, when I heard the clapping begin. It resonated, getting closer and closer until I was finally able to see the first runner. And then I was shocked because … well …
… he wasn’t a runner! It was a paraplegic man in a wheelchair and I can still see the look on his face as he came in to my view. It appeared first as a painful grimace but quickly morphed into the most glorious smile I had ever seen in my life. That man had pushed himself 25.5 miles and now he was surrounded by strangers who wanted nothing more in that moment then to see him finish. He was alive, and not just in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense as well.
For the next 2+ hours I stood in awe, pressed anxiously against the metal barrier, clapping and cheering. I watched children, adults, people in groups and others who were alone. Some ran – faster then I can when I am sprinting and some walked. There were a number of people who fell, whose bodies had given up on them … and then crawled along the pavement when their heart refused to do so. It was their moment. And they made mine.
That morning in a city of millions, there was a common tie, a respect for one another that meant more then any religious or political difference. All day long I spotted people everywhere who were draped in the foil blanket they were provided at the finish line, proudly sporting their medals around their necks. I even witnessed a woman stop the closing doors of a subway car to send her congratulations to a participant. There was unlimited appreciation and support and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to experience the grimace and simultaneous overwhelming joy that man felt that morning. I wanted to push myself further then I thought I could. I wanted to test my determination and dedication. I wanted to run a race.
Which brings me to now.
When I signed up for the Nike+ race in Chicago I figured –
10K, can’t be too hard right??
WRONG. I have dedicated all of my free time to training. I am in the gym 6 nights a week, running 4 nights a week and watching everything I eat. Some days I feel great!! My workouts go well, I increase my weights, or I am able to rack up the miles by foot without any trouble. Other days … well other days aren’t quite so easy and I get frustrated, discouraged and crabby. – EEK!!
And that is when I take myself back to that morning in New York … and that moment …
Yesterday night Matt and I ran the longest distance either of us ever have. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t necessarily fun, but dammit – when we were done I was so proud. I was proud of myself, and I was proud of Matt.