2008 – Heroes and Blessed …

1 01 2008

Every year we go about vowing that we’ll be better, continue on our path or just ignore the whole thing.  Last night, I was able to actually have some time to myself while working a rather busy gig doing live audio.  Being the only gal on the crew – and running the boards – I was able to take a break.  I had some really amazingly good people around me who covered as I bundled up and went outside to breathe.  Below is what I wrote:

2007 is full of things I never could have dreamed.  Some old friends stuck around.  Others, I’ve parted ways with and their places have been filled with some amazing new ones.  The year really started on a pretty messed up note.  I didn’t much like where I was or what was happening.  I was attracting negativity and was being eaten alive by it.  I had done one awesome thing – I’d walked my first marathon in Disney World in just a smidge over 6.5 hours … and it felt kind of hollow.

Out of work, making a series of mis-steps and listening to people who said I should take a couple of months off before I started walking again, I was depressed and lost.  Reading 11th and 5th grade standardized essays (part of the No Child Left Behind Act) didn’t help much!  Will – one of the first new friends of the year said “Sis – get walking FAST!”

An hour on the treadmill and some time in a pool started to sweat out the nonsense of the temporary job.  Probably the best thing to happen on the treadmills was meeting my close buddy, pal and partner in distance event crime Sheila.  Next thing I knew, we were both at the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon with my buddy of some 21 years Heather!  Sheila’s popped me into her marathon relay team and constantly reminds me I’m walking faster etc.  She’s a jackrabbit … and is going to be leading a blind friend of ours, Kerry, through the Oklahoma Marathon!  Wow!

 Armed with a lot more out-front confidence that I didn’t feel inside, I got out there and fumbled around with walking local races and trying to put together a schedule I could stick with.  I was feeling less hollow in the realm of walking … especially when a friend from Pilates who has become a really dear friend, Val (who runs like a gazelle!) won a 5k we were in and jogged back to meet her friends … and said to me “You WALK as fast as I JOG!”  How’s that for an instant confidence booster?!

Later, I resumed the role of Tiki Mama Crew Leader for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  I lead a group of walkers in a torrential rainstorm around downtown Denver and nearly stepped backward into the overflowing Platte River telling participants “Walking takes a lot of time in sneakers … or time in the med tent with ripped up feet and sore muscles … it’s up to you!”  I met a nutty gal with a bright pink Mohawk … that nobody seemed to be able to get.  Jackie — another of my buds … and partner in Gorilla Crime!

After a summer of hit/miss races and training … and a bunch of time spent on the marathon walkers newsgroup, I realized it was time to take my walking seriously.  I needed some direction … or at least some acknowledgement that I didn’t suck too terribly at this.  I took a racewalking clinic given by Coach, Racewalker, Author and general all around nut Dave McGovern.  Fresh off his honeymoon, we were put on a track and I realized how much I enjoyed what I was doing.  Better than that, I wasn’t feeling that emptiness.  I made some great acquaintances, got to know others … and met another turning point pair of people.

One is Dave himself.  I push his Marathon Walkingbook because it’s really worth it!  I’ve read his published works (and if he reads this, I’m sure he’d laugh with me) and there are a lot of things that didn’t settle in — but I liked what they said, laughed and felt inspired.  So – when I met Dave, I expected someone kind of aloof, more than slightly full of himself and a bit condescending.  Sorry!  It’s what I expected because I’ve met other authors of non-fiction works I’ve respected and that’s how they are.  You’re there, they’re polite, but at the end of the day – you’re just another sale.  Boy was I completely caught off guard!  There were all levels of walkers in the group – Darla who floats on by; Yvonne and Elna who are right there with her; my friends from the running club John and Ed learning more; Christine and Annamarie giving it a shot … I’m forgetting names … but I think it was my conversations at a table with Mike Mc that changed a lot of things to come!  At any rate – not only was Dave real, but I got the feeling he was trustworthy also.  Dave’s enthusiasm is catching – and I walk into every race ramping myself up to do my level best because a lot of it is mental … and I want mental in a powerfully good way!  I could be completely wrong here, but I honestly get the feeling that one of the people cheering loudly when I get a personal record is my Coach.  Here’s to a year of pushing my envelope, adding to self esteem and putting more runners in my rear view mirror!

Then there’s a guy that I met when I sat down in a table at Darla’s for dinner – Mike Mc.  He was in a corner with the om-pah of his oxygen tank going watching everyone.  Mike’s got COPD or something like that and the most amazing outlook on life.  When we got to the track, he pulled out this contraption – he totes bottles of oxygen in a cart attached to a harness at his chest.  He is AMAZING!  He’s also become a true big brother – reminding me of the good and to pitch the rest … with flair, style and in my purple tutu!

I left that weekend knowing the bug was biting at me and it was going to be up to me to start having some faith in myself.  It’s ok to be nervous but idiotic to be neurotic.  Racewalking has been giving me the boost I’ve needed.  I love walking across lines with more determination than the tired runners around me … and I really like it when runners say “Hello … again!  You’re just walking, hu?”  Yup – Keep on truckin!

An on line source has really helped with this – Steve and Brandon.  They’re from the Bay Area and are like Wonder-Twins!!  Steve’s blog is accessible from mine and an inspiration.  As I’ve been trapsing through the garbage of my past – and carrying it out to dump on the proverbial curb – I’ve read parts of Steve’s blog when I’ve been feeling particularly down on myself.  There’s no keeping that man down and I wish that ‘modern medical science’ would just at least let him keep a good pace!  He’s got an amazing attitude and even when he’s in the hospital/prison there is NO getting him down.  I’ve learned boatloads about motivation, life and chronic lung issues that can’t keep good men like Mike and Steve out of their sneakers! Brandon … HA!!  Huntington Beach will never be the same and I think you’ll be in San Jose too, right?

I round out my year with Kerry.  He’s a runner with the Rocky Mountain Road Runners.  I met him through his dog actually in January when I first got back from Disney.  Kerry’s blind.  His guide dog, Audi, does some runs with him, but he has this tether thing that a front runner wears and he holds on to from the rear.  There’s no pulling involved.  By late in the year, I was able to introduce Kerry to Sheila and now they’re teaming up to do the Oklahoma Marathon.  Sunday, I’m striking one for Racewalker/Runner relations being his Guide Dog for the 10K … he’s got to keep it slow, and I’ve got to keep my 13:45 marathon pace.  The cool thing is that Kerry asked me.

Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold.  In my case – my friends are really all gems – sparkling in their own way.

I started out the year feeling down, discouraged and like I would probably never outlive the pains and problems of my past.  I was surrounded by a lot of demons of my past and when I took on this series of gigs, I didn’t know what I was up against.  There were a lot of mind games, and it did get to be a lot … but I’m not that person anymore.  I’m really cool with that.   I’ll always be an analyzer … but I’ve got so many other things I’d prefer to spend my time doing.

The people who have floated away, or that I’ve walked away from, have taken a lot of pain with them and it opened up these floodgates for my amazing new friends … who make me laugh, share, push on and drive hard.  They remind me that we really only have this ONE life and they’re not going to let stupid things like seriously uncooperative lungs, botched surgeries or bindness get in their way!  

It’s clear, dark, cold … and I feel amazing.  There are people in the venue who have to get themselves messed up to feel like they’re having a good time.  I’ll help provide the music – but I feel like I’m the luckiest gal there is … awesome dog, restored health and walking away from the past … and on to an AMAZING future with a wide group of wacky and diverse folks I’m lucky enough to call friends!

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