Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Run to be... Paris (in San Francisco)

I ran my second marathon last weekend in San Francisco – the Nike Women’s Marathon to be exact. A marathon that brings together, by chance of a lottery draw, over 20,000 women to run through the streets of San Francisco for the reward of being presented at the finish line, by a tuxedo-clad fireman, a Tiffany necklace, complete with blue box and white ribbon. This year the finisher’s necklace was engraved with Nike’s new running slogan, I Run to Be…”

Earlier during the weekend I had shopped at the massive NikeTown, a store full of sweatshop produced athletic wear, teeming with women all searching for the perfect race weekend souvenirs. Caught up in the madness, I purchased far too many items made of sweat wicking Nike FitDry, to be filed away in my wardrobe under “clothing-I-would-not-be-caught-dead-wearing-in-Paris”. One of the hottest selling items, and one that I purchased myself, was a custom Nike FitDry t-shirt with the “I Run to Be…” phrase completed by the wearer.

Naturally I thought of Paris. Naturally I am always thinking of Paris. So naturally my Nike t-shirt reads, “I Run to Be… PARIS.”

Readers of my Blog may remember my February post last year, I. AM. PARIS.; a post I wrote after months of searching, with the help of my career counselor, to try and find a way to live my life fully and with gratitude. In February I wrote,

“Paris is romantic. Paris is organized chaos. Paris is attention to detail. Paris is a lifestyle that I aspire to. Paris is fashionable. Paris is edgy. Paris is kind but not too kind. Paris is challenging. Paris is delicious. Paris is smart. Paris is happiness. Paris is where I feel strong. Paris makes me want to get out of bed in the morning. Paris is history. Paris is wonderful memories and dreams about the future.”

This past year has been a year of learning. The marathon I ran on Sunday was the culmination of this year of learning.

I confess that I don’t love running the way real runners love running. For the past seven or so years I have been running out of necessity and convenience; running is an easy and inexpensive way to keep fit and doesn’t cut into my Paris (LV!) savings. In fact last year while working with my career counselor, she said, “Only run if you want to.” I didn’t want to. And for several months I didn’t run at all and spent my Saturday mornings happily watching Bachelor reruns. I did not miss running, not one bit. True I became a bit squidgier. So much so that when I glimpsed at my naked butt in the mirror on my 33rd birthday, I actually cried out in horror. But I still had no desire to run.

And then my husband told me about this “Tiffany marathon” and I entered the lottery on a whim thinking that no one ever wins a lottery on their first try. Wrong. I received my entry confirmation on April 21, 2010 and begrudgingly began my training.

Marathon training involves a lot of time to be alone with your thoughts.

Paris. Chris. How good Starbucks coffee tastes after a run. Legs hurt. Try not to throw up. Hate this song. Love this song. Is the horse too fat. Sleep. Panic about lack of direction. Mentally organize closet. LV bags front and centre.

Fortunate. As I began to build mileage spending my Saturday mornings on longer and longer runs, I started to think about how fortunate I am and how fortunate Chris and I are.

Gratitude. Over the past couple of years, I have watched some of my family and my closest friends go through extremely difficult times reminding me again and again that our lives can change in an instant, not necessarily for the better, and what we thought we had time to do, would get around to doing “one day”, suddenly disappears complicated by challenges far beyond our control.

It made me want to run more. It made me want to run harder. And I did. Despite an injury that kept me from training for five weeks, despite a pre-marathon trip to Paris that involved no running at all and excessive amounts of rich food and alcohol, despite fumbling to balance my training with my horse, and with being a somewhat not-so-horrible wife (sorry Chris!), I completed my marathon on Sunday, October 17, 2010, in 4 hours and 45 minutes.

Do something. I think I understand way more than most runners that running can be miserable. I have gone on more runs thinking, “I hate running”, rather than “I love running”. But running, broken down in its simplest form, at its core, is the act of going forward and no one can afford to take “going forward” as an inherent right.

I don’t care if its running, walking to work, dreaming of a trip to Africa, raising your family on organic foods, saving to own a Mercedes, opening your own restaurant, whatever. For me it’s Paris. But…

Do something because you can and because one day you won’t be able to. Do something because for every 1 second that you think it’s hard or scary or that you will get around to it later, there are probably at least 100 people who can tell you that is not the way life works

There are no excuses. I Run to Be… Grateful. I Run to Be… Paris.


hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Such an inspiring post...
and a Tiffany necklace at the end.

Congratulations on finding the determination and stamina to complete this marathon.

Lucinda said...

That is such a good post. You've inspired me. =)

Anonymous said...

I sure am proud to be your WSM.

Cindy Ralph said...

I know it doesn't take much these days... but you have made me cry in this post. I needed to read this tonight and to remember to be grateful to have the "tomorrow". And thank you for allowing me to share this moment with you in San Fran.

Karyn said...

Chills... and tears.
You've given me both with this post.

Licette NJ How said...

I can't wait to see the t shirt, Erin. I get so excited when I see there is a new blog from you to read. This was there up at the top for me and like your other friends I cried. Bless you for your bravery to be yourself. I am so proud of you.