The race I did not run.
On June 2nd I marked September 23rd on my calendar.
On September 23rd I planned to run my first 5k.
An act of defiance of sorts. Defying both body and brain.
Proving that I could physically and mentally triumph over 5 years of living with cerebellar ataxia, sarcoidosis, nystagmas, enlarged lymph nodes, vertigo, muscle spasms, chronic back-knee-shoulder-foot-hand pain and a broken bone in my right foot that took 14 weeks to heal.
So I trained 52 times in 63 days.
I lifted weights and taught myself to run again. I scripted my training sessions. I journaled about each session. I ate clean. I lost 7 pounds. I felt good. Mentally. Physically. The best I felt in 5 years. I felt a renewed confidence and energy.
I was winning.
Then migraines came, unpacked their bags and have been squatting in my brain for the last 6 weeks.
On a gray Philadelphia morning, I stood in a light rain near the finish line of the Global Energy Race, next to a set of speakers, listening to Aretha Franklin demand respect.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me.
And I think…
Sing it Aretha.
So much of this race was about regaining the self-respect that I felt my health issues stole from me. The confidence and fortitude and moxie I possessed before I got sick 5 years ago.
We lose self-respect when we let other people, or in my immediate case–illness, define who we are and how we value ourselves.
And so, as Aretha wailed and the rain fell and cherry-cheeked runners crossed the finish line– I couldn’t help but feel like a failure.
I waited and watched Cindy and the kids each cross the finish line. Arms raised. Smiling. Triumphant.
After she finished, Cindy moved to me, kissed my cheek, hung the race medal around my neck and whispered, “You deserve this.”
Self-respect is only found when you decide to accept all your strengths and weaknesses. Your triumphs and defeats.
We are all flawed and damaged and straining to accept our human limitations.
So why can’t we accept ourselves with the same conviction that other people who love us do?
Maybe that’s why we run.