Racing

Peer pressure is alive and well, even though I’m 37.

You’d think I’d have learned by now.

If your friend jumps off a bridge, would you jump, too?

Sadly, I must answer yes.

Yes.  If my beloved sister-in-law Kim jumps off a bridge, I’ll be right there next to her, plummeting to my death.

In my defense, Kim has the spiritual gift of peer pressure.

That’s the only way to justify the fact that I’ve agreed to train for my first half-marathon.

As Kim says on the peer pressure/running topic, “Better running than crack.”  Which is technically true.  Although I’m not entirely convinced that running won’t kill me faster than crack.

To illustrate how perfectly ridiculous this whole half-marathon thing is, I’ll tell you that right now I can’t run 3 miles.

Pre-pneumonia, four weeks ago, I was running 3 miles 3 times per week.  That’s pretty dang good for me.

Post-pneumonia, I’m not running at all.  I still get winded walking up my stairs.

Not running might be a complication in my half-marathon training.  I’m hoping to jump back off the running cliff next week, but in the meantime, I’m trying not to push it too hard and have a relapse.

One year ago, I ran in my first race.  A 5K in the big city about a half-hour from my house.

It was my first race out of two total, but who’s counting, right?

OK, fine.  I’m counting.

Counting to two isn’t hard.  In fact, it’s harder to not count to two.

Go ahead.  Try to not count to two.

See?

But considering the fact that there was a time not so long ago when I couldn’t run to my own mailbox (for real… I tried), I’m fine with two races.  Heck, I’m PROUD of two races.  Proud, that is, when I can forget about my cousins, who ran the races twice as fast as me and had to wait at the finish line, shivering, for me to drag my hiney across.

Speaking of rear ends, I had to buy Glide.

Glide comes in a stick like deodorant.  It’s goo you rub on yourself to keep from chafing.

Chafing happens when skin rubs on skin and makes a rash.

I started chafing when I increased my run to 3 miles at a time.

I get chafing just under my cheeks at the top of my legs.

I’m pretty sure this means that my seat has sagged far enough to rub on my legs.  But — I’ll be honest — I haven’t looked in a mirror to be sure that that’s what’s happening because I don’t want that information confirmed.  I’m currently avoiding clothes shopping lest I be confronted with angled dressing room mirrors that show me my back side.  Someone tell me who the jerkazoid is who invented those mirrors.  I’ll pop him in the teeth for the lot of us.

I went to the doctor on Tuesday for a follow-up chest x-ray.

Good news!  The pneumonia is almost all gone, so my running plans might become a reality.

Bad news:  when you have a chest x-ray, you have to line up your girls with two circles on a metal panel.  The technician had to lower the panel.  And then he had to lower it again.  And then he had to lower it again.  Yes.  That’s thrice.

First the Glide for the back.  Then the lowering of the metal panel for the front.

Sigh.

Things like this make me question whether I might be truly, certifiably crazy to attempt something like a half-marathon at my advanced age.

Unfortunately, I’m then reminded of three things:

  1. I’m a whiny baby who’s too focused on my sagging bits.
  2. The world does not revolve around me and it doesn’t care to make exceptions or allowances for me based on what I think I’m ready for.
  3. Really, really old people do half and full marathons all the time, and they don’t complain about their advanced age.

Besides, when I get done with this crazy ride we call Life, I suspect I’d rather look back on all the things I tried.  Even if I tried and failed.  Which is a real possibility here, folks.  I could try and fail.  I have a lot of kids who need and deserve my attention.  Running can’t always be at the top of my time-use list.  But this old lady is gonna get her sagging butt out there and try, I tell you.

……

When I started my first race, my goal was to finish.

I was focused.  I was driven.  I was putting one foot in front of the other and trying to ignore the 10,000-year-old, 4-foot-tall woman with a cane (really – a cane) who was out-pacing me on the city streets.

The moment when I started to feel discouraged and out of place was the same moment I noticed raucous cheering from the sidelines up ahead.

A woman wearing layers and layers of dirty clothes stood there with a pack on her back.  The teeth she still had were yellowed.  Her skin was lined from exposure to the elements.  She was obviously homeless, living on the streets.

She was also cheering and encouraging us runners with everything she had.  Literally.  With everything she had.

I think often about what I have, about what I’m responsible to give, and about how to teach my children to be generous, loving, and giving adults.  To those who have been given much, much is required; I really believe that.

And yet, there she was, this woman with so little, giving me a gift.

Me.  Suburban mom.  Woman who had slept in my warm bed the night before.  Woman who was wearing new running shoes.  Woman who thought about which of several things to eat for breakfast… not whether I’d have breakfast at all.

For a year, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her gift.  How little I deserved her compassion.  How grateful I was to receive it.  How she empowered me.

……

Most of the time, running makes me feel strong.

Every once in a while, though, I’m afraid I can’t do it.  Not just the half marathon.  I mean anything.  Be capable.  Be good.  Be honest.  Be compassionate.

That’s when I remember the 10,000-year-old woman and her cane.  I don’t know whether she ever had moments of doubt, but know by the cane that she had obstacles to success.  I also know that she didn’t give into them.  She was in the race.

How powerful.  How beautiful.

And when I’m at my worst, not just in running, but in life, I imagine the homeless woman cheering me on.

That’s the best way I can think to honor her gift.

That, and to stay in the race.

……

Speaking of peer pressure, I’m not as good as Kim, but I’m gonna give it a whirl.

As you may know from yesterday’s post, my 5-year-old niece was diagnosed with a recurrence of leukemia this week.  We’re helpless in the face of cancer, even though we ache to do something to help.  We have to leave Kay’s treatment in her doctors’ and God’s hands.  In the meantime, there are thousands of patients who are waiting and hoping for a bone marrow donor who can make a life-saving transplant possible.

You may have the power to save a life.  Join the bone marrow registry now.

Help people stay in the race.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
27 comments
  1. […] thought about running and the way that endurance events (why, hello, life!) have a way of revealing which parts move well […]

  2. […] the half marathon I was going to do?  And then the same one that I wasn’t gonna do?  Now it’s the one that I just […]

  3. […] back when I agreed to try this half marathon insanity, I said, “I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.”  And now I have […]

  4. […] appreciated her advice, encouragement and thoughtfulness.  I’m even more excited to run my first 1/2 marathon this October with […]

  5. […] 3.7 is clearly not as far as I need to run for the half-marathon my nutsoid sister-in-law convinced me to do this […]

  6. Google “team sparkle”. You TOTALLY need one of those. As I always say “go big, or go home” 😉

    1. Oh my gosh. LOVE! You KNOW I’ll wear one of those with pride! Very timely, too, because I’ll sure as heck need something to go over running tights. 😉

  7. For the chafing: get running tights. Don’t wear underwear under them. You can wear shorts over if you like. For me they are the difference-maker. (Double-bonus benefit: things sag less inside tights.)

    For your niece: I think about her all the time, and take comfort in the story of Jarius’s daughter and how it shows that Jesus cares about little girls.

    For the peer pressure: I signed up to be a donor. Your sister in law has taught you well.

    1. For the chafing: I had no idea there are running tights! I feel like this may be a game-changer, and not just because you sweetened the pot with the sag lift. I must look into these right away.

      For the niece: Thank you for the comforting story. Jesus does care about little girls. I’m going to pass along all of these comments/stories to her parents. So thank you.

      For the peer pressure: Hooray! I feel like Luke Skywalker who’s doing my Jedi master proud! Thanks!

  8. yes. just yes. yes to sagging bits. yes to thrice. 😉 yes to compassion. yes to encouragement. yes to staying the race. yes to helping others staying in the race. just yes!

    ps: and I’m thinking: yes to Glide too! yes? yes!

    1. CARINA! THRICE WAS TOTALLY FOR YOU!

      Glide is totally for me. 😉 But I’ll share. Well, not my stick. You’ll have to get your own. But I don’t have the world’s supply on lock-down or anything.

      1. Thanks! Thanks! Thanks! (That was thrice! Again! Yay! 🙂 )
        I’d never ever ever ever 😉 heard of Glide, In.My.Life. so you’ve taught me something new. Again! Yay for you! Anyway, good luck on using Glide. And good luck on your running tights. And the sparkling running skirt! (yes, I do read everything, I’m stalky like that… 😉 Hahahaha!) And I’m very happy to hear you don’t have the world’s supply of Glide on lock-down (who knows, I might need it someday!), but it makes me wonder what supplies you do have on lock-down… I’ve learned not to underestimate your might! 😉

  9. Your X-ray reminds me of my aunt’s birthday card from a friend. Older woman shopping for a bra: “What do you have in 38 long?”

    1. Dear World,

      Do you see how hilarious my mother-in-law is?

      Hilarious!

      I’m a lucky girl.

      Beth

      1. you are a lucky girl! (not that’s there’s anything wrong with my MIL, not at all, love her to death, but hilarious-wise… hmmm, not so much I think… 😉 )

  10. Love you, cousin! Awesome post.

    1. Love you, too! Awesome idea on the registry!

  11. “better running than crack.” I think that should be a bumper sticker. I’d put it on my car. Don’t forget to use the Glide under your arm pits too. There is nothing worse than rug burn on the pits. Believe me. I know.

    1. Ha! Too funny, Jodi.

      Yep, that Kim should definitely write bumper stickers… she has some jewels!

      YOU should write Glide slogans, though! “Glide: for when rug burn on the pits just won’t do.” 🙂 Hehehe.

      Beth

  12. I ran about 10 years ago. Not anything ridiculous like a race, but man, I was in great shape. Then kid #6 came, and my uterus fell out. I’m not kidding. When I was young I told my (feminist) English teacher that I wanted to have a whole bunch of kids and she said, “Are you crazy? Your uterus will fall out!” I thought it was a figure of speech.
    Please give yourself plenty of time to heal. I remember the last time I had pneumonia-it took me forever to even walk without getting winded.

    Oh, and I love this post. It’s the kind of things I think about a lot, too.

    1. Oh, Cathie. I’m laughing. I have a friend who had the same thing happen! I didn’t know that was a literal condition, either, but she handled it with the same humor and good grace you did!

      I’ll do my best on giving myself time… that’s not my most successful thing, “patience,” but I promise to try. 😉

      Thanks for the kind words of encouragement!

      Beth

  13. Beth,
    Thank you for all of your wonderful post but epecially the link to the bone marrow registry. My nephew is a leukemia survivor although he was a match with his little brother it was devastating to hear “No sorry you aren’t a match” for many of us family members. I am not able to donate since I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. What a gift you have given someone by posting this link. I have followed suit & posted the link on my Facebook page. Thank You for the reminder.

    1. Thank you, Missie, for your comment and especially for sharing your nephew’s story! I so appreciate your experience and your willingness to share link to the registry on Facebook. My cousin is doing a similar thing… promoting the registry even though she can’t register herself. You’re a blessing and an encouragement.

      Beth

  14. I just registered! I am curious what race you are training for – I am trying to get back to a training program as well. I have ran 3 halfs before, now need to get back since I have had a few injuries. I was hoping to do a half on mother’s day, but I have yet to start really running. I can only run about 3 miles too, UGH!

    As always, thank you for sharing your heart and being real. I so appreciate it!

    1. I’ll send you a message, Susan, with the race info! It’s not ’til October, so you’ll have plenty of time to train, especially with your experience!

      And thanks for the encouragement… it means a lot, especially coming from a professional like you! I can only hope to aspire to your encouragement of women and the lives we live!

      Beth

  15. Beth~ Once again….I am laughing *with* you about the whole running/glide/saggy bits, and I love how Kim uses her peer pressure ‘gift’ for good and not for evil! 🙂
    I will join the bone marrow registry….I hope there isn’t something about my medical history (and current..) that precludes me from being involved, but I will go for it!
    BTW: I’m running the half marathon in October too, and one in July (if you want a head start on that fall bit) and some other races in between….just sayin’… you could join me! *smile*).
    ~L

    1. Thank you for clicking on the site and trying the registry! That’s all any of us can do. I have a cousin who can’t be on the registry because of health history… but she’s promoting the registry, instead. I’m grateful for the attempts!

      I DO need to sign up for races before fall for sure. Have to stay motivated! I’ll message you to see which ones you’re doing… good job on peer pressuring, by the way! You’ll be like Kim in no time. And that’s high praise! 🙂

      Beth

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