Last updated on November 19, 2019
There’s a lot to be said about tradition. One of mine is running the Hot Chocolate 15k here in Columbus mid-November. This year I sort of had some shifting physical priorities and switched from running to hiking, and a little weight training to support mountain inclines with a full pack strapped to my back.
So, when the annual run came up I basically went in cold. Meaning, I didn’t train for it like a runner would. Well, like I would have when I was gripped by fear after my first heart attack and I was training to be in the best shape I could be in four years ago which translated into three full years of 5k, 10k, 15k, half marathons, and 20-mile races. So yeah, “cold” aside from the sub 30-degree temps that is. Zero training. This is by no means a bragging right just more of a mental/emotional marker. I told myself if I can walk 20 miles with a 30 lbs. backpack on my back per day for three days, I can still finish a 9.3-mile race. Which I did. But it comes with so many great memories of races and training runs past. Moments where I felt freedom from fear while running in the summer heat, nearly naked in just shoes and 6-inch inseam shorts in a summer rainstorm feeling like crying simply because I was alive and able to do a 13-mile run. It was the first place I found that kind of release. I was broken. In many respects, I still am. It’s just, now, I am more at home in my own skin and I am more grateful than fearful on a good day for the things I have right now.
But the race kind of makes me square up front and center and smell the sweaty ball funk, up close and personal. Like I had packed five days worth of hiking into a 2-hour block of time with the scaly salt crusting on my face and neck from the dried sweat on my skin. This race reminded me of how much I owe to running. Mental health is a big one. It makes me wonder if I would have actually won more of those battles with depression had I signed up for more races again instead of hikes or those black hole weekends where I just stayed home and watched movies in bed or on the floor. Nursing a Merle Haggard hangover at times.
Perhaps it’s time to switch up my weekly routines again and mix in some splits like my current 3 days of lifting with 2 days of running and1 session of naked yoga with my buddies again. “3-2-1” has a nice ring to it after all.
So yeah, health is a process. As are friendships and relationships and marriage. Sometimes it takes reminders, like these, to help us refine our priorities. No, that’s wrong. For me, anyway, it’s more like the setting sun as it slowly strokes the side of a cliff. Changing colors, depending on perspectives while revealing hidden things that are not visible in the morning light normally. It’s more like a sudden discovery than a journey to find what you are looking for. Kind of like that “when the thrush knocks thrice” thing in The Hobbit when the characters find the hidden keyhole in a specific type of moonlight.
All I know is that there are lessons learned. Not all of them failures. It’s pretty damn empowering to revisit one of my Freedom places again, while in running shoes, with 1000’s of other folks who are all there for their own reasons. And you know what? It makes me think that we are not all that different, or divided, after all. I think all of us share in the struggle to live and express and share happiness. I suppose this is how I am choosing to do just that. One discovery at a time.
“Most of life is showing up. You do the best you can, which varies from day to day.”