I like the Boulder Spring Half Marathon. Those of you in the Denver Metro Area ought to check it out. Dirt roads through fields of golden grass, the early morning sun casting long shadows, old farm houses or newish mini-manors sparsely occupying an acreage here and there. No one around but runners with their chins up or their heads down. It is a very unassuming, neatly managed race.
This year it was hot. Ugh. Also, I was not well-trained. Double ugh. Still I had a good time, and I finished with a good time (2h 22m). Also, and this is now my favorite part of running this race, I spent the morning all by myself.
Now that I run marathons, my family is less inclined to climb in the car for a mere half, several hours of boredom spent in order to have 30 seconds of “Go, Mom!” and “Finish Strong!” and “Woohoo!” They’d come if I asked them, but really. I’m now a fan of the solo spring half-er. I wake up early, drink tea and drive. I park it in the parking lot and read and listen to music and safety pin my race bib. I make pleasant banter with a few fellow runners. Then I run: my race, my brain, my fatigue, my finish. I like it. This particular race falls on the Sunday after my birthday every year, perfect for a little me time--self-reflection and, yes, even a little self-absorption. Also, it makes for a super-fun drive home.
Maybe I haven’t yet mastered the art of fueling. Or maybe 13 miles will drain your tank no matter how full it is. In either case, I found myself with the low-blood-sugar-shakes just after crossing the finish line. There’s something about this depletion that is good for my soul. It shakes loose some dust--the dry, dirty flakes of world-weariness, the somebody’s-watching-and-judging fearfulness. Nothing’s left but the salty residue of evaporated sweat. My body wreaks of defiant, I’m-tougher-than-the-shit-you-dish moxy. I do this to myself, and I finish standing. Not just standing...still smiling, fists in the air, ripping through finish lines. God, I love that feeling.
I downed some gatorade and sucked on an orange slice, then piled my sore limbs into the car. The drive home became an uninhibited comedy. With no one around to observe or mock, I sang along to music with all the verve my lungs could muster. This year it was Arcade Fire’s Funeral:
Come on, Alex. You can do it!Then
Come on, Alex. There’s nothing to it.
If you want something, don’t ask for nothing.
If you want nothing, don’t ask for something!
If the children don’t grow up,Can you picture it? Me, rocking my body side to side, throwing my head up so I can Belt. It. Out. I call this the endorphin effect. It’s like alcohol, because it relaxes your inhibitions. Because singing out like that was in me all the time, just waiting for an unguarded, exhausted, exhilirated moment to be let out.
Our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up
We’re just a million little gods causing rainstorms
Turning every good thing to rust!
I guess we’ll just have to adjust.
Aaah Ah Aaaaah Ah Aah Aah Aaaah Ah
Also, in the middle of the drive home, I had to pee. And I held it. And this seemed to me an amazing--Herculean--accomplishment of will and bladder. Seriously, folks. I was so proud of myself for holding it. I was loopier than the Mad Hatter.
If you don’t have something in your life that builds you up and tears you down like this, go find it. If you can’t remember the last time you didn’t have enough energy to restrain yourself so you just had to let ‘er rip (no, we’re not talking about peeing anymore)...If you wish you had a corner of the universe to be yourself unadulterated, to know yourself uninhibited...If you wonder what might be in you if you could uncover it underneath your life or your baggage: run. It is physiologically guaranteed to get you there. Go long, go hard, go on your birthday, as a gift to yourself (stop laughing; we seriously aren’t talking about peeing anymore).
Bonus for you: you don’t have to write about it. That may be the craziest, hardest part of what I’m doing. But if you want to tell me about it, I’d sooo love to hear your story. I don’t care if you find/lose yourself in running or dancing or singing or synchronized swimming. Please, tell your corner of the world about it. Tell me!
Warning: words are difficult. You have to conjure them and string them together. There are rules to words: they must make a kind of sense and, simultaneously, tiptoe toward nonsense. Because we are all our own special kind of crazy, and if any stories are worth telling (and they are) it’s the ones that let my crazy and your crazy look each other up and down and say, “You look familiar to me. We might be long lost cousins.”
P.S. My crazy totally loves Violet's crazy over at Creative Devolution. If you aren't yet acquainted with her beauty and truth, get on it.