Monday, March 12, 2012

I Never

I never was the smartest.
I never was the prettiest.
I never was the funniest.
I never was the tallest.
I was never the fastest.
I was just me.

I really don't know how I got through school.  How I managed to get  an MBA in International Business Management.  I was in SO far over my head.  But, ever winging it, somehow I got through it.  

I have to say, I have the prettiest friends.  They are not only pretty, they are SO funny.  Often I sit in silence while they work the room.  I can't even compete.   Hell, I wasn't even tall growing up.  My bff's in high school were both 5'11".  Even at 5'10" I couldn't win.  

In swimming I held my own.  I certainly wasn't weak.  But, I certainly was no star.  Only during some odd summers where my birthday fell just after the age deadline was I handed a gift and allowed to compete in the lower age group.  So, for those few months, I WAS the fastest.  I did win.  In the championship meet I got first. Hell yeah.  Ahhh, but I kind of felt like a fraud.   

I still am very competitive.  No matter what.  To be smart.  To be pretty.  Funny.  Tall. Fast.  

The other night at dinner some running friends tried to convince me that being fast is not important.  (This coming from two very fast people, mind you.)  I heard them.  I understand them.  But, it still doesn't compute with my brain.  Because no matter what, I feel I have to be faster.  Faster than I have been.  Faster than somebody else.  Fast.  

One year ago I was in my best shape.  I was running fast and fierce. For me anyway. One year ago yesterday I raced a 10k in St. Maarten. After three weeks of drinking and fun the last thing I wanted to do was race a 10k.  But, I promised my friend RJ that I would.  Amongst all the fun I had actually been running quite steadily.  No matter how little sleep I had. I still managed to get a few good runs in a week.  It sure helped that RJ was all on me.  I would get a call on the beach while he was at work, "What are you doing?'  "Um, sitting on the beach.  Duh." "Well, get your ass home.  I'm picking you up in 15 minutes.  We are going running." And, somehow, some way, I got up.  Shuffled the 5 minutes back home. And got ready to run. 

Race morning was tough.  I had been out every night for three weeks.  I finally stayed home the night before the race.  But, it was killing me that all my friends were out. I couldn't sleep.  I woke up before my alarm.  Had coffee on the patio, overlooking the ocean.  Another gorgeous day on the horizon.  I stopped at the local convenience store on the way to the race.  As I got back in my car I noticed runners coming upon me. Half marathoners from the race who had already started. I stood and cheered them on.  I appeared to be the only person up that early other than them.  

Me & RJ (Check out the doode behind us) 
I met up with RJ  at the race start.  Shortly thereafter we were off.  7 am is already hot in St. Maarten.  It was full sun.  No shade.  I ran slow and steady to start.  I started to feel good and pulled away from RJ.  There were some women running with me.  We kind of stuck together.  For the next few miles we took turns passing each other. At mile two I started to see the half marathoners coming at me.  The first guy was hauling.  I was going to give him a courtesy wave as he passed.  Just as I was doing so, I realized I knew him.  RJ's friend Andi.  I had randomly seen him cross the finish line at the 2010 Chicago Marathon.  We screamed hello, whoo-hoo'd, smiled, and ran on. 

I hit the turn around, at that convenience store where I had seen the half marathoners, and made my way back. At this point I was hurting.  I was REALLY hot.  I was struggling with my endurance.  But, more importantly I was having a hard time keeping up with some of the women I was playing tag with.  But, I kept on.  I passed RJ as he neared the turnaround and we waved.  I ended up passing a few of the women as they struggled more than me.  But, a few moved ahead of me too.  I was disappointed I couldn't keep up.  The last half mile was brutal.  I was really hurting.  I almost wanted to walk it out.  But, I didn't  Somehow I managed to cross that finish line.  Andi was there cheering me in.  

Best post chillaxin'
I grabbed a cold beer and fresh hot french croissants and waited for RJ to finish.  High fives, hugs, kisses. And, off for beer for him too.  We chilled and talked on the beach while the rest of the racers finished.  Out of curiosity I went to peek at the finishers standings.  I was absolutely floored to see that I had won my age group. Ok, granted, this was no big race.  Just a small island race.  But, still.  I came back to RJ giggling like a fool.  He wanted to know why.  I told him.  I'm pretty sure he threw some profanity at me.  Because that's how we roll. But, he also kissed me and congratulated me too.   
Gigglin' as I get my medal

So, those women I couldn't keep up with.  Yeah, they were TWENTY years younger than me.  Mmmm'kay? 

I forget that sometimes. The people I think I'm trying to compete with are not even in my league.  So, why am I even wasting my energy worrying about such silly stuff?  One of these young "gals" who had beaten me, came up to me post race.  She gave me congratulations and said she was struggling and that I pushed her to finish strong.  Then she said, "Have you seen your legs?"  I was puzzled.  I said, "Uh..... What?  Why?"  She replied, "Your legs are sick.  When you run your muscles are ridiculous."  Oh my God.  I giggled so hard.  Apparently, I wasn't the only one eyeballing the competition.  And,  I'm not bad for an old broad either I guess.   

Six weeks after my St. Maarten race  I ran the Race to Wrigley 5k.  I was so excited to finish a race by running the hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field.  I had friends sign up with me.  But, come race morning it was pouring rain and cold.  Absolutely miserable.  Every single one of my friends pulled out.  Everyone but me.  I was going dammit.  I stood in the start corral,  freezing, while rain pelted me in the face.  I was shivering.  It  was awful.  But, we sang Take Me Out To the Ballgame and off we went.   

As we started to run I got warm.  The rain felt great.  The crowd was fun.  It was moving well.  No walkers (I ALWAYS get walkers).  The energy was great.  I was alone, but I didn't feel alone.  I kept pushing myself.  I felt like I was moving forward as opposed to being passed by people.  It kind of felt awesome.  For once.   As we neared Wrigley for the finish I got a surge of energy.  I hit the concourse area and screamed with everyone else "Go Cubs" as it echoed throughout the the stadium.  And, as soon as we went in... we came out the other side, right through the finish line.  I gave it all I had as I crossed.  Nothing left in me at all.  The finish line was under at least several inches of water.  So splash! splash! splash!  across the line I went.  And, then I was done.  By myself.  I was done.  

They had immediate readouts for your splits, finish time, and place.  Holy crap.  A PR for me. By a few minutes actually.  27:26 (8:55).  20th in my division.  Hey, look at me.  Still not the fastest.  But, happy as a clam with being fast for me. It continued to pour.  But, I stood there in the rain and let it all soak in.  I was pretty damn happy. 

This St. Patrick's Day I'm racing a 5k.  In my head I want to PR.  But, in reality I know I'll get nowhere near my Wrigley Race.  Perhaps I never will again.  But, that's okay.  

I will never be the smartest.  The prettiest.  The funniest. The tallest.   I have to learn to know that it's all okay.   I may be witty and charming instead of intelligent smart.  Someone may find me pretty out there in the world.  I think I can make some people laugh sometimes.  I'm certainly taller than Gwen. 

And, fast?  Well, I really have to learn that it's okay that I'm not.   I got broke.  I got fixed.  But, I'll never be where I was before.  Partially because I just cannot physically.  Partially because I cannot mentally.   

I'm not racing to win.  I'm not racing to beat some faceless person whom I have no business racing.  I'm there to race me.  The me that I was.  The me I've yet to become.  And, whatever the result, I'm okay with that. 

Ok, now who's up for a game of "I Never"............ 

(you're welcome) 


  1. You Rick Rolled me?! I never saw that coming. :-)

  2. Never gonna give, never gonna give! I love you girl! Even though I'm going to be singing that for the rest of the day, damn you.

    1. I know you love me. You really should, Becky. I'm kind of lovable. Right back at ya.

  3. I love your perspective. I've often felt second best. It seems to be where I'm comfortable. One of the best but never THE BEST. I don't know how you got that old home video of me but thanks for the motivation. No matter what happens in your St patty's day race, I'm proud of you and proud to know you.

    "A full commitment's what I'm thinkin of. You wouldn't get this from any other guy."


  4. Thanks, doode. You're the best. And, that's why you're my friend. Fully committed and all. :)