Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wonderful World, Beautiful People

Take a look at the world 
And the state that it's in today 
I am sure you'll agree 
We all could make it a better way 
With our love, put together 
Everybody learn to love each other

2014 is coming to an end and 2015 shall come to pass soon. I finished racing-not that there was much of it in 2014-at the only race I've done every year since starting to run, the Winter Sun 10K. I'll cut right to the end result-fourth place in my age group, first time off the podium in five years. If I measured things only that way, the race kind of blew. Measured it terms of doing what I love to do, showing up, being with some wonderful and beautiful friends, and doing what I could that day, it was outstanding.

My racing has been at a minimum this year and I took a fair amount of down time this fall. I had my wonderful travel experience in October, and great time with the kids and in my new place upon my return. I had some good runs in the weeks leading up to the Winter Sun. The weather was perfect, riding down with friends in the morning, I felt miserable, napping in the back of my friend Heather's car while she and Hannah chatted. Feeling kind of like a schmuck for being that sleeping passenger but feeling too lousy to care, I did my best to get a game face on.

Warm-up felt lethargic and my gut was turning. If you want to unintentionally clear a path for yourself at a race, gagging and wretching pre-race, and during a run will certainly do it. I gave serious consideration to saying screw it, I'm not running. There's no better way to get back into racing, than racing, though. I knew that was the chicken way out, too. Only racing if I was 100% confident I'd succeed. 

The first half was pretty ugly. Making nasty blerching sounds most of the way, I felt like I was moving slower than last year in the snow at this race. And I was. I kept my friend Rochelle in my sight, though. We run together sometimes, she's had a year of getting better and better. A lot of people race just for themselves but I'd be dishonest if I said I'm not also there to race other people too. And it's fun, a cool thing-to play with that good energy with others, many of whom are friends met at various races through the years. Some of my best memories are getting to mix it up during the race, then hang out after, talking about how it went, having a beer and a bite to eat. Beautiful people enjoying this wonderful world. So I hung in there and picked it up in the second half, slowly picking off a few runners. I was pretty far back so it didn't make much difference, but finishing strong and not fading away was what was on the brain now. I finally caught up with Rochelle, and worked to keep momentum in my favor-forward, and onward.

The time on the clock didn't quite register a personal worst but it was crummy by time standards. Still, when I hit that last track lap, I vowed to be strong going around. There were wonderful friends who hollered my name, and the names of other friends, as I hit the track. And, given the runs other people turned in, what my training looked like, and how I felt, 4th out of 57 was exactly where I was supposed to be today in the rankings. It's pretty rad, too, that my friend Cheryl won our age group, and Rochelle came in 5th. I'd had this dream that the three of us somehow did a 1-2-3 in age, which didn't quite happen, but we all put it all out there. There were a bunch other friends who made the podium, some regulars and some for the first time. With nearly a quarter of the race participants being from Grand Junction, and a number of other regulars and friends attending, it was also exactly where I was supposed to be. 

 Met all three of these crazy cats at races over the years.

Not even close to everybody, but we did our best to round up all the local townspeople. 

This is a year that really came down more to the people who helped one another through good times and bad.  Difficult life transitions and struggles and unexpected events dotted the calendar.

 Conversely, there was a lot of good energy out there. 

Friends helping friends through tight spots. Calling up or texting one another for runs or hikes. Helping one another with mundane, everyday tasks, and bigger projects alike. 

Being human to one another. Open. Seeing the best in others and forgiving the flaws and shortcomings. Sometimes challenging the opinions of others, even if it was uncomfortable. Telling someone what they need to hear, with compassion. Hugging the shit out of people. New and evolved friendships, and friendships that changed or ran their course. I'm glad for it all.

We have a semi-regular "Margaritas" hangout with a group of local gals. We get together, and, yes, margaritas happen. We visit, though, celebrate and toast things that have gone well. Sometimes we're coming together as a distraction in rough times. But, we're there. Present in one another's lives. Our next hang is going to be screening Wild, the movie adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's autobiography about hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. And then, yes, margaritas. I'm looking forward to being there with those who can make it for this go 'round. I couldn't get enough of her writing; the book had been recommended by several friends and this is going to be icing on the cake to see the movie. Among many things she's written, this rings truest of all right now. 

“You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that's all.” 

Sure, it's not all. Kindness, and paying the bills is a good start.