Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Swallows of Pride

I'll spare you the details of how I prepared for months to race this marathon.  You read most of those posts along the way.  I'll refrain from describing the nervous excitement that itched the back of my brain when all things went silent.  I will pause from laying out how beautiful the first half of the course was for me; with each step I moved closer to my goal.

Yes, I finished a marathon in a respectable time, although it was a far cry from my planned time.

I flew.  I flew without much effort being fully supported by all the wonderful spectators (most notably my fan club).  Something happened, physically, while approaching mile 16: my quads seemed to turn to stone.  With another mile in the books, my feet started to cramp, balling up in my shoes like fists.  I was toast.  I tried my hardest to think myself above the physical pain; it didn't help.  I made peace with my goal slipping away.  I also decided to quit and cash in my DNF status (Did Not Finish).

My husband, an angel in disguise, talked me through not quitting.  I pressed on to cross the finish line while swallowing my pride.

This picture will lead you to believe that I was happy with the end result.  A picture can tell a thousand words (notice my right balled up foot), but this one isn't speaking the full story.  The hoopla and fanfare at the finish didn't allow everything to sink in.  I spent some time in the medical tent icing my legs and getting stretched.

The Girls
It's not easy to run by your biggest fans without stopping for hugs.  By the end, I just wanted to hold my kids.  That was cooler than any race medal.

After lunch, we returned to my car where I finally had a moment to think.  Tears rolled down my face.
I missed it.  All the planning, training, sacrifices and I watched it slip away.
I've had so many people point out the silver lining; I ran a marathon.  That's an amazing feat that stands alone.  But, I did that last year.  This time was supposed to be different.  This time was pushing it to the next level.  I pushed, but I came up short.

President Obama once told a group of schoolchildren to not let failure define them.  I'm working on owning this.  I cannot let this race define me as an athlete.  I will not quit until I do exactly what it is I set out to do.  Like the phoenix, I will rise above these ashes.  For now, I need a mental and physical break, but I'll be back on the road soon — maybe Saturday.  :)

"She believed she could, so she did."
-R.S. Grey, Scoring Wilder

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Let's Fly

I had the luxury of sleeping in this morning (and by sleeping in, I mean 6:30).  I embellished that regal feeling by taking my good old time preparing a delicious fruit/veggie blend before my final run.  As I tried to stifle the boisterous sound of my industrial blender, my gaze shifted out the kitchen window to the bird feeders on the patio.  A few birds fluttered around, snatching up the little bit of seed scattered on the ground.  Just like that, I noted my fascination with everything birds; it all seemed clear to me.

College, my hazy undergrad years, created so many opportunities; opportunities that I probably passed up because my focus wasn't on academics.  All things good and bad that I'd never change.  I'm not sure when in time the realization of not graduating with my class kicked me in the face, but it happened, hard.  My initial reaction was to sink deeper into my hole of fabricated bullshit.  I stayed there a while until I opted to put on big girl underwear and do awesome.  In true Muffin fashion, I took those lemons and made limoncello.  I attended school an extra year to sufficiently pass with enough credits to earn my Bachelor of Arts in English.  My final credits, an independent study in the spring semester, was spent with Mr. Hensley.  Throughout my college career, he showed patience and understanding in my difficulties.  A gentle man, he introduced me to a poet, A. R. Ammons, who wrote about the likeness between humans and nature.  Like my studies of Emerson, I took to Ammons' writings.  Notes in the margins, underlined phrases and dog eared books became my new life.  All my conversations with Hensley and all my readings paved the path to a thesis that would focus on Ammons' use of avian imagery in his works.  Longer story short, I got an A and broke out of that cage.  

Years passed.  I continued to soar through my life with the occasional turbulence.  All the support of my friends and family would not allow me to crash during the dips; they helped me keep my head up and my wings out.  
Our first daughter's name means like a bird.  
In the manner that I picked apart the avian imagery in Ammons' poetry, I do the same with Foo Fighters' songs.  
I travel everywhere with the shadow of a phoenix, always by my right side.  
I dream of speed while being light on my feet — faster and faster I go.  

I returned from my final run to drink a delicious cup of coffee.  Ava and I went outside to refill the feeders.  Also superstitious, I didn't want to upset my flock by neglecting their nutrition.   

There's one goal for tomorrow.  
I'll have my flock supporting along the way.  
Head up; wings out.  
We're gonna fly.