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The Hardest Thing I have Ever Done

It is quiet.  The air is still. I hear a soft pounding in my chest and my feet on the asphalt.  My heart reminds me of the task at hand: kee...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Eugene Womens Half Marathon

Here's a run that I really took for granted!  I hadn't been training (really).  I mean, sure, I had a level of fitness that I had maintained from my Coburg Half one month earlier, but really, I had just been cruising, as far as any kind of real training goes.  I remember even telling people that if it wasn't for the $75 I had paid to enter, I would just skip it.  Boy am I glad that I didn't!

A cloudy and cool August day, I showed up early.  Dave dropped me off at the start line.  He would meet me around mile 7 later with my girls and mom and niece, Hannah (mom and Hannah we up for visit from Southern California for the girls' birthday).  I said hello to a few friends.  Lauri Simrin and I had a nice chat and she told me she would be walking it with another gal.  It was a comfort to see her as she was involved in the very first training group I was in when I had my terrible ankle injury.  Then another woman I know from the girls' school, Becky Cacioppi, visited with me as we lined up.  She was with a friend who's husband was making a video of their experience.  As we chatted the start time approached.  They realized that they should be pacing with a faster group and I realized that I should move to a slower group and so we went on our opposite ways.

Once lined up, I adjusted my iPod, set my fitness recorder and picked out my music.  Then I did something that I don't usually do: I took my earphones out to listen to the national anthem.  I am not sure why, but I moved my hand to my heart and I sang along.  What had come over me?  I checked my myself.  Yes, these were my Asics, my shorts, my hands.  Who was this person singing this song?  I didn't hear others around me singing so what had gotten into me?  Looking around, I had my answer.  I was in a sea of women.

Not long ago women were not allowed to run marathons.  In fact, women could not participate in tack and field competitions until 1928 and the first woman to run the Boston Marathon happened in my lifetime--in 1972!  And here we all were, lined up, elbow to elbow, strength in our numbers and spirits, and women, all of us!  Well, most of us; I saw about a dozen men, total, but so what.  We're not exclusive.  It's not in our gender's genes to be like that.

A woman's voice spoke above the crowd about our perseverance as a gender and we roared with approval.  The gun sounded and stampede of dainty feet took to flight.  I ran moderately and paid attention to my fellow runners.  We were courteous of one another and encouraging.  We carried each other along the way.  We were a force, an inspiration, moving in a single column to a single destination.  And we spoke without words to a past that treated us unfairly.  We yelled: "LOOK! YOU WERE WRONG!"

At mile 7, I met up with my family.  I was grateful that my mom and niece were there, too.  We have powerful women in our family and it was a moment for all of us to share. I am glad that my niece and my daughters do not have to know of a time during their lives when women are not allowed to participate in an organized run.  I am also glad that I ran that day.  I finished under my longest Half time, which I did not expect and I got to be a part of something special.  And I got to recognize something in me: I really do care about my gender and how we get to be...how we SHOULD BE included.

If you want a really great history lesson in brief, check out this website: