September 30, 2009

One Year Anniversary

by Suzy

Yes, the blogging has slowed down of late. When I'm running, I always think of all the stuff I want to write about, but there never seems to be time, and before long I've forgotten all those great ponderings... (Hey, I just realized that this could be a rationale to buy that new iPod nano that I truly don't need, but kinda really want, because it's so CUTE and it has a videocamera in it, for crying out loud! I could use the video camera as a voice recorder to capture all of my profound musings on the road! And then still probably NOT write about most of them!! But I digress...)

What I've been thinking about lately is my one-year anniversary of running. It's right about now. I remember, because I photographed a wedding last year on October 4, and it turned out that the bride and groom were big marathoners. I summoned up all my courage and sheepishly mentioned to them that I'd begun running - it had been less than a week and I was still in the throes of all that early embarrassment and insecurity. They were, of course, lovely and encouraging, and now I will always remember that date, and that it was a few days prior to October 4 that I began.

I'm proud, thrilled, grateful, relieved, and generally ecstatic that, one year later, I am still running.

If anyone had told me that I would ever willingly peel the covers back in the dark of pre-dawn, pull on some shorts, eat a banana and head out to run, I would have thought s/he was absolutely delusional. Yet, I did just that this morning. And I wasn't even meeting any of my fabulous mamajoggers. It was just me today, and I just got the hell up and ran, and it felt great.

I simply cannot overstate what running has come to mean to me, and how it has saved me during the hands-down most painful and challenging period in my life. Of course, it's the physiology - the endorphins, and the shifts in body chemistry - and the getting out, the breathing fresh air, the being in nature. But it goes so much deeper than I ever dreamed it would, and that is because of friendships, and community, and love.

A year ago, when I asked Kirsten and Steph if they would take pity and run with me now and then as I just started out, I had no idea that they would immediately step up and offer to actually run the Carlsbad race with me. I was so blown away that they would do that with me, and for me! And then, lo and behold, Nicole signed on, and Claudia too! The depth of their caring was overwhelming. And over the course of weeks and months of training, and long runs, and cold runs, and wet runs, our friendships became deeper, wider, and more meaningful than I ever could have anticipated. This is what running has brought to my life.

Fast forward to the next race - more wonderful women signing on. Old friends, like Barb (all the way from Seattle!) and Jan, and newer friends, like Anna and Jennifer and Debamitra, and friends of friends, like Jen and Amy. Our group was a little harder to coordinate, but it was also incredibly gratifying to continue building our community; and for me personally, it was deeply meaningful that these ladies would take up Mielle's cause.

I was giddy with the possibilities for Mamajog... I wanted it to go national! Viral! Global! I was, and still am, mesmerized by the power of this simple act: running, and using the running as leverage to raise money and awareness for a cause (not even necessarily MY cause). I still dream of growing the Mamajog idea - and I'm still "living it" in my own way - but circumstances of life have forced me to postpone my plans for world domination! (At the same time that Mielle's health has been steadily improving, my son has presented us with some special challenges as well, and he needs much of our attention at the moment).

Today I revisited the firstgiving page that collected most of our donations - all the entries, all the comments. Of course, in the moment, I appreciated each and every one profoundly, but at the time, in the heat of the fundraising drive, and the running, and all the coordination with all the Mamajoggers for the last race, it was just one of many things that were happening all at once, competing for attention. Now, in the calm of this moment, I am stunned all over again with length and depth and breadth of that list. Family, friends, people unknown to me but beloved by other Mamajoggers, and perfect strangers. How amazing that all of those people could care enough about my little girl to want to help, and choose to join us in this new community of ours.

So, there you have it. The deepening of friendships, the spread of compassion, the creation of something beautiful from a truly dreadful situation... and the community created from these... all of this is the true magic that running has brought to my life. (Simply running - honestly, can you believe it!) I don't care to know where I'd be right now, without it.

I'm one year in, and it feels wonderful to have made it this far, and still love it - and I really really REALLY hope that it will stay this way for many more years to come.