Two days ago, a Friday morning, I was sitting in my kitchen and doing my morning contemplation. The bush outside the window still doesn’t have any buds on it. Spring is here, but cold and rain abound. I cried out to The Universe, “bring me what being alive means!” Yes, I was emphatic in my feeling. It is an unspecific request except I was feeling a very specific feeling. I want to do and experiece whatever being alive means.
On my plate are various possibilites of things that could be done. But first up was a half marathon race the next day. I often feel misunderstood when it comes to running. People’s reactions to me, a 64 year old who still does 70 miles a week, almost never feels satisfying. But in asking The Universe for the meaning of being alive, I got a vision of my running. Suddenly I knew with every fiber of my being that running was my expression of the meaning of being alive. And off I went to packet pickup.
Saturday morning the alarm goes off at 5 am. I leap out of bed, eager for the race. I slept great and it was easy to get up. I drank a cup of coffee while I got my gear together. I get to the race site very early so that I could have a primo parking spot. I sat in my car reading a book. As time for the start of the race crept closer, I went into the stadium and found a women’s bathroom with no line. All of these pre-race activites were manifestations of being alive.
I went to the start line, along with about 900 other runners. We were all excited. Raring to go. The national anthem was sung. I get teary eyes seeing the flag and hearing the anthem, every time. And we are off.
The city where the race was run is hilly. Very hilly. Brutally hilly. I ran the race at threshold breathing, which meant an average of 10 minutes per mile. I did well chugging my way uphill and practically sprinted the down hills. I worked hard to stay ahead of the 2:15 pace bunny. As the miles went by, I was becoming more and more amazed at myself as I kept maintaining a 10 minute per mile pace. I had known I could run one 10 minute mile, but I didn’t know I could run a bunch of them. And the hills kept coming. The uphills became more and more difficult to get up.
Arriving at mile 11, I was with the 2:15 pace bunny, and I was the only one with her. All the others had dropped off. She encouraged me. I told her how surprised I was to see how fast I could run. I clung to her. I tried hard to stay with her, even as more uphills continued to present themselves. I told her that I thought the course was cruel. She laughed, “You got this. Just keep going.”
Suddenly I recognized the area of the finishing track. I got on the track and sprinted around to the finishline. I looked at the clock: 2 hours, 13 minutes and some seconds. Wow! I did it. I couldn’t believe it. Thats the fastest half marathon I’ve run in a long time. Wow!
A man came up behind me. He was a little taller than me, probably six two, possible of Indian descent, with a little grey at his temples, so definitely younger. He thanked me. He said he had been following me and working hard to maintain my pace. He thanked me for being his pace bunny. Amazing.
After I got home, I checked the results online. Whoop! I got first place in my age group. I beat 12 other sixty something ladies. Yes, seeing my name pop up at the top of the list felt like winning the lottery or something. I kept reliving the feeling of putting my all into maintaing my pace and running as fast as I could without dying.
And that folks is what the Universe brought me: what being alive means.
So the next time you see some old lady shuffling along the sidewalk, just remember. To her, being out there is the essence and feeling of the meaning of being alive. It is a tremendous contribution to the well being of our world.