I’ve been training for weeks.
I’ve been waking up at 6 a.m, rising with the birds, sometimes even before. Rain or shine I’ve pushed myself to hit the pavement, tirelessly striding my muscles into miles upon miles of French terrain. I’d increased my endurance rapidly; it seemed every day I was breaking my own personal records with no signs of stopping. In fact, after my two-and-a-half hour run yesterday, I was stoked to find I’m only minutes behind some fairly impressive Olympic qualification times. Since coming to France, my workout regiment has been the most explosive it’s ever been in my life. In any case, I’ve never been so prepared for anything as I was when I woke up this morning to run the 10 km race at the Quais de Bordeaux.
Wow, thank you. Thank you for giving me that moment. That moment of thinking for a second that someone out there read the above sentences and thought it could be true. I’m flattered, really.
Cuz yeah, no, that was all bullshit. In fact, invent the opposite of each sentence in that first paragraph, and you’ve got yourself the truth. In reality, I’ve never worked-out less in my life. When I first got here I went on a couple of runs, but as the weather trickled down in temperature—and as the temperature literally trickled down as rain—so trickled (I like that word, I’m gonna keep using it) down my efforts. As a matter of fact, I told you about the last time I ran! It was when I was hustlin’ down the middle of the tram tracks (backpack-strapped and campfire-singing) past midnight to meet Lisa about a mile down the road.
And let’s be honest…saying that was a mile’s effort is a tribute to my generous side.
No, this morning I woke up like I usually do. I trudged to the kitchen like I usually do. Erika yelled at me for having nakey-feet on the cold stone floor, like I usually don’t. I apologized and continued to pour my coffee, as I usually do. I trudged back to my room with a banana and wondered sadly at how little the coffee mug is, like I usually do. And I lift up my covers to sink back into bed with my pre-breakfast, ready to bask in an hour of blissful alone time with a book…indeed, just like I usually do.
Then I checked my phone. I had a message from Nate.
“So what’s the plan?”
Well fuckdamnshitmagee. And then some.
Last night Rebecca had posted in our Americans-in-Bordeaux group FB page:
And I had, for GOD KNOWS WHAT REASON, replied:
I’d blissfully forgotten, but now I couldn’t unforget. It was like making-out with the ugliest guy at yesterday’s party, and yet you woke up the grand gift of blacking it out. Then, in single message from a friend, your glorious ignorance is forever destroyed: “So how was Thompson’s tongue?” Confusion turns to shock as you feebily remember a photo might have gone up on FB. You rush to check your computer—clear as day, yes, there it is– the evidence is all over the screen. To your great horror there’s already been a couple “likes” and there’s officially no way to undo the damage done by such small, destructive life choice.
So yeah, I basically did make out with Toothless Thompson. I did say I’d attempt the 10K. And with evidence like that, I DO have to fess up and face the consequences.So moving as fast as I could before I could realize what I was doing:
I put on my workout clothes, which I haven’t done in a while.
I laced up my Nike’s, which I haven’t done in a while.
I went out into the cold morning air, which I never do.
And I took the tram to the quai. I arrive at 10:02—two blasted minutes too late to know if they started this thing with a gunshot, a horn, or (for all I know) a mime. Too late to get a cool number like the ones on all the bobbing bodies moving in the neon river of workout gear, I then adjust to become one of the Randoms in the mix. In all the commotion no one but maybe a couple bystanders notice I hop through to the starting line and get swept up in the mess of energy. It’s exciting, my head is buzzing. I mean, geez, thirty minutes ago I thought my 10 a.m was going to be using Genevieve’s Netflix account to watch Modern Family. I thought I’d be eating a soft-boiled egg. I thought I’d lying in bed thinking about how much I don’t workout.
But I wasn’t there. I was here.
I tried not to smile. It’d be weird to smile, right? I wouldn’t know, I’ve never done one of these things before. I was running on my own after all. What do you have to smile about, Numberless Girl, the patches of families standing by would surely think. Who do you have here? Wipe that smile off your face.
But my senses were too awake to put such energy to rest.
But my ears were too alive with the chaotic melody of even-paced breathes (from the serious solo runners) and french jabbering (from the pairs of old friends who simply wanted to kick it on a Tuesday while moving).
My eyes were soaking up too much of the brightly-colored workout apparel that cloaked my neighboring runners, just as a universe of gray cloaked the world. The pavement, the bridge, the buildings, the sky seemed made of stone; we, the hundreds united in moving in one direction, seemed to shatter it with such a magnificent display of humanity.
Someone reading this may have participated in running event before. You may think my fuss about the thrill I experienced is old news.
You are already awesome.
Someone reading this may think 10K is not very far.
You could be very right.
Someone reading this may think it’s very easy to wake up and just run such a distance.
You are strong.
But this atmosphere was very new to me. A 10K was far for me. A 10K was hard for me.
And so, despite being very cold—
despite being completely alone—
despite being the least prepared in my life for a run—
The randomness of the situation– layered upon the excitement of accelerating my body into a giant whirlwind of Tuesday morning sprinkles of rain—made me smile anyway. And so I kept running, smiling in all my numberless bliss…and one hour and 10 kilometers later (through the many high-fives of outstretched infant hands) I stopped my feet.
Completely and totally unofficially, I had crossed a finish line for the first time in my life. I was enthusiastically congratulated in french by strangers and quickly handed a water. In a storm of back-patting, laughter, stretching, and marching band air, I stood there soaking up the high.
I was so happy and tired, I could only think in one word.
And it’s important to recognize these moments where your brain only registers This. It means you’re living in the most present moment you possibly can. It means you’re aware. It means you’re alive.
Moral(s) of the Story?
For starters, sucks to suck if you hooked up with a dude referred to as “Toothless Thompson.” You done fucked up, face the ugly fact. Raise those alarmingly low drunk standards, babe, I believe in you.
Make silly choices, commit to ambitious things…Then keep them. Step #1 to Doing All Worthwhile Things is just the act of literally taking step two. And then three. Then four.
Before you know it, your running.
….until your not.
Excuse me while I go chop off my legs.