Grateful

I ran the Turkey Trot this morning. My first time ever doing such a crazy thing, but hopefully not the last. I could hardly sleep last night as I had been anticipating this morning and wondering if I would be up to it, mentally and physically. I’d rested, I’d tested, I’d done some training. It’s “only” 5 miles, but that’s a distance I could never have hoped to run only a few years ago, and one I’ve never run under any kind of race conditions, certainly not ones that included 32 degree weather and partially frozen over roads and sidewalks, with wind blowing in off the freezing cold lake. But there I was. I miraculously caught my balance after a bad slip simply walking down the steps on the way to the starting line. The contortions I was able to make to save myself from what surely would have been a bone-breaking fall completely amazed me and a guy nearby, who was too far away to catch me but stopped in awe. “Wow, that would have made for an end to the day,” he said, impressed as I was that I was able to right myself. Then we all took off, so many of us that it took me six minutes from the start of the race to actually cross the starting line where my chip timing started. “WOO!” some people shouted. “THIS IS CRAZY!” I shouted, to no one in particular, as we splashed and stomped through freezing puddles of water; people with dogs, people with babies in jogging strollers, people in costumes of Pac Man and the Cat and the Hat, because it’s also a costume contest. I knew if I could make it up the East 9th Street hill, I would probably be ok, and I was. It was so cold that my phone battery froze and shut down shortly after the 4th mile, and I missed the mile marker but suddenly someone was shouting at us that we were almost there, and I picked up my pace and passed a ton of people the last half mile, running all 5 miles without stopping, without falling, without giving up.

There were no spectators. There was a lone, tiny water station at the 2nd mile, with just a couple of people handing out cups, but no porta-potties, no people cheering until the very end. Just the sounds of our splashing footfalls, so many of us, and snippets of conversation for those who can still talk while running (I can’t). I flashed the peace sign at each officer I passed, and there were a lot of them, keeping cars from running us over who were impatient once again that people with a cause were in the way of their cars. They nodded back, smiled, waved, said “Peace to you, too,” and “Happy Thanksgiving,” and that was all the lift I needed to keep going, the hope of peace.

I LEAPT, literally, over the finish line, sailing over it like so many obstacles I want to put behind me as I break new ground, push to new heights, change myself and grow and learn.

I was so grateful to have a friend there waiting for me. A smile and warm hug can do a lot for a cold, weary body.

I drove home, stopping at a bar that’s about halfway to my house, and evaluated myself for injury as I sipped on a well-deserved and much-needed bourbon. “I think I’m ok,” I thought to myself. “I can’t believe I’m ok.”

At home, I took a long, hot shower, and then a very hot bath. That’s a lot of water, and I usually try to be more conservative. I was very thankful for the hot water, and know how fortunate I am to have it.

I thanked my body aloud as I relaxed. “You did a great job,” I told my middle-aged, lopsided frame, with it’s uneven stomach because of all the scar tissue inside it, and one leg shorter than the when a broken vertebra healed crooked years ago. I looked at the divide in my pubic hair and touched the scar there, following it up to the top of my stomach where it stops, grateful to have survived the surgery that created it so long ago. I placed my hands on my hips and pelvis, hips that expanded to carry my baby to a healthy birth, hips that still shake in dance class, and thanked them. I looked at my breasts peeking out of the water and was grateful for the months of nourishment (and let’s face it, abuse) they took when I fed that baby for two years. Breasts I can still stuff into a fun bra and make eyes pop. It really is an amazing body, despite all its flaws. It has done so many things for me, and continues to respond in ways that surprise me.

I had invitations from many directions today to join people at their table, which was a wonderful feeling. It was tempting to just go home and spend the day alone, watching TV and sleeping, but with so many knocking, I felt fortunate to be so loved and couldn’t turn my back on it. I was grateful to spend the afternoon around the table with people, talking, laughing, sharing a meal, railing against injustice, discussing and debating, and feeling very welcome, even at a place I’d never been before, with people I hadn’t known before.

I’m home now. Turned up the heat, am running the dishwasher and doing some laundry. I am thankful for the ability to do each of these things. For the clothes I wear to putter around in, the material things I see when I look around my humble home, the people in my life, the love and friendship I experience, the body and mind to know these things exist, the ability to experience them, to enjoy them.

This sort of fellowship continues tomorrow with my own meal, with my little boy on prep and Mom as sous chef. And Saturday seeing other family, who I see far too rarely, and more laughter (I hope) and stories and that bond you only have with people who have known you your whole life.

How lucky I am tonight.

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