Saturday, May 7, 2011

Powering Up

It was pouring rain. And my daughter was determined to still do her 5 K we have been planning on for months.

Not just normal rain, but the kind where your shoes squish and your pant-legs stick cold and soggy to your goose-bumpy skin. And she was under general anesthesia only three days ago and has a casted (shouldn't get wet!) arm.

But still she wanted to do this 5K even if we walked it slowly the entire way. And so we did. And we came home to hot baths and a sense of family (we did it!) accomplishment. But the best part of the day was my daughter's girlfriend and her Mom who met us there.

Her little friend was a bit under the weather and not feeling so good herself. But her Mom told me yesterday on the phone: "A. says that if your daughter is doing this race with a cast on, there is no way she is not going to do it with her!"

It's the first 5 K I've started at the very back of the pack and it was the sweetest experience. These girls giggled at the massive raindrops plopping on their noses. They laughed at their sodden socks and they tried to avoid the lake-size puddles. They waved to the volunteers and Sissy thanked, I think, each and every one of them. And then (because we were walkers today) when the runners started passing us, they cheered and hooted and hollered with great gusto. They saw friends and yelled for their serious and determined faces by name. They saw their teacher running for her PR and kids they knew watching from windows. They saw local track teams with cute boys (oh yes)  - and everyone was cheered for by them with all the joy of what it meant to get out there: have fun and be healthy. With an emphasis on the fun!

Afterwards over hot ciders and tea at a coffee shop - water still rolling off our fingers and coats - I was blown away by the power of their friendship and enjoyment to withstand broken bones, feeling crummy and horrible weather - and still have a blast!

I have been tossing around the idea of trying to form a group of friends to run with. This is not easy! In fact, it has been like pulling teeth in the past. The dynamics that overlap with female friendships and physical pursuits can be both powerful and frightening to all of us, and I have seen all manner of fears and insecurities keep us from joining forces.

But I decided to try again.

So I put it out there on facebook and the initial reactions were all can't do's. I was bummed. But I didn't take my plea down and by the next day there were a handful of ladies that were interested, and a few of them were even open to committing to a regular running schedule. Together!

Something is clicking this time (probably the fact that it's Spring and the weather and sunshine may start to cooperate.) I am excited and so hoping we can get a group to gel. And I'm nervous, too.

Physical health has always just been that for me: an individual pursuit of health. And I am passionate about it. After a long and personal journey, I feel very strongly about being intentional about health - and I love and crave the type of life that comes to me as a result of it.

But the thought of bringing friends into that most vulnerable of places - to allow them the gift of being close to me in something I care so passionately for  - and to allow myself the gift of their support and kind words, trust and truth ... this is new for me. To me this could be the truest form of friendship; bringing beauty out in those we love around us by cracking it open in ourselves - all while sweating and panting; and willing to have bad days while looking slow, inept, stinky and vulnerable. Because you know, you can't hide on a run. There's just no way.

Inviting friends into that process in our bodies is a very powerful catalyst, though. It's choosing kinship over competition. Shared credit over personal pride. It's choosing to be known when your feet and face may be soaking wet. After all, it was my college roommate who gave up her personal runs and invited me into her alone-time, to show me how beautiful running was. And she changed my life forever.

I know deep in myself that it is so not about the pace this group will run. It is not about our individual goals or accomplishments. It is not even about what each of us are facing and fearing in our lives.

It is about the pace of our hearts and hurts.  It is about the courage it takes to ask friends to be a part of whatever is going on in our lives. And it is about trusting that the overlap of physical sweat, as we pace ourselves with ourselves, will lead to an emotional pace of strength and victory, too. 

For me living intentionally is enjoyment - in art, in athleticism, in mothering, in beauty, in health...  That is how I live out joy. But I am thinking that intentional, physical health combined with a group of amazing women may be one of the most powerful forces for enjoying life that I've known of yet. And watching my daughter and her girlfriend this morning reminded me of something I need to remember again and again.

You can't enjoy life alone. 

I'll keep you posted.

This post is dedicated to my friend Gretchen Deyon Meighen.
My friend for over twenty-eight years now. 

I love you, Ginger. 


Anonymous said...

Sweet girls! They're lucky to have each other and you as moms!

I can't wait to hear more about this running group you're starting! The dynamics, the ins and outs. I want to give a running group a go (again) but it seems I've exhausted (figuratively) all the girls who were, at one time, interested. Maybe a few new ideas from you would start the ball rolling for us here too!

Kimberly said...

Beautiful. The dynamics are challenging, I'm sure. How wonderful though to take that step together. This all speaks so to my lonely heart. (I've moved to a new state where I know no one.) But maybe I can find a new friend and journey together.

corli said...

Oh my this is powerful stuff. Sure wish I could join!!! I am slowly claiming back running in my life after chronic fatigue syndrome, four children and a trans-atlantic move!

Heathcote Safari said...

Love that you remember your college friend who first got you out there ... I so want to be that person for my friends! Thanks for another beautiful running post :-)

emily wierenga said...

For me living intentionally is enjoyment - in art, in athleticism, in mothering, in beauty, in health... That is how I live out joy.

love you misha.

Jessica said...

There is so much good stuff here I'm not sure where to begin! Love this, ever word.