I have been back to running for 4 months. Running for my health. Running for my mental health. Running because the countryside is beautiful. Running on a regular schedule because I decided train for the NongKhai marathon. And running in a beat-up pair of shoes as an homage to simplicity.
This training has gone better than any in memory. I have had no time goals or fitness goals. After getting food poisoning, I was weak and slow - so I took it easy. I cut a run really, really short and eased myself back without guilt or urgency.
Running on rickety shoes gave me intention. Connecting intention, thought, and results. Just like aggressively driving a car, running hard and fast is tough on the rubber. I slowed down to increase the life of my shoes. I slowed down to avoid injury in a foreign country. I simply slowed down because I have less urgency to get anywhere.
Two books have stood out for me this training. Quiet helped me to understand myself as an introvert and how to use my time spent running for myself. The second, Trauma Stewardship, helped me recognize and deal with the ways caring for people with trauma can has and is effecting my life.
For several months I told almost no one that I was training for a marathon. I just "didn't want it to be a big thing." Sometimes I keep things close to the vest. Private. Humble. Attention Avoidant. I think that's good, normal, even positive right? As usual the line blurs.
Today, I see that an aspect of not talking about some achievements, projects, or goals is guilt. Shame. A silent apology for what I have in the presence of those who don't. Susan and I also recognized these feelings on our vacation; normal, maybe even positive right?
Perhaps not. The book mentions the fact that this guilt closes down communication. Isolation. Dishonesty. When I stop and think about it, I know the people I am caring for, working with, living among, and calling my community like to know about what I am doing. They probably wonder why I am running so much. Should they have to guess if I am stressed out, angry, vain,or driven by some other force? Clearly, not telling them is a problem with me and it starts to build a wall. A wall that creates room for misunderstanding and definitely isolates me if not them too.
As my training has gone so well, I was finally ready to register for the NongKhai Marathon before the mid-November price increase. A Sunday morning with debit card in hand, and I am scanning a mostly Thai website for where I register and pay. A new section is on the website with a big announcement completely in Thai, with the exception of one word - POSTPONE. Races around Thailand are cancelled in respect for the King's death.
My first thought is, "well I am glad a ran 19 miles yesterday." Overall though, I think I handled it pretty well. Mild frustration and a few days of processing and thinking about what I will do now. I look for some other races but none are feasible. What to do now?
In days gone bye, I would force it. Ego takes over (still did for a bit) and I would run 26.2 miles alone. No pause to ask what is to gain or why. I trained so I run it. Stubborn. At the least I would have a good anecdote: marathon, Thailand, cancelled, solo, win.
- Pause #1 = Simplicity. Even before my 20-mile run last weekend, the shoes were in poor shape. The outside of my right foot is worn precariously thin. Can and should I be doing this?
- Pause #2 = Birthday. This weekend will likely be our last overnight stay in NongKhai. My birthday wish is for the freedom to take all the time I want doing nothing but making photographs. Running my scheduled 12-miles would cut into this freedom in a significant way.
- Pause #3 = Christmas? Yep, our 3rd and largest Christmas party is on 12/17. Meaning the day before I will be taking a lot of pictures, singing, maybe dancing, and who knows what else. Running the organized marathon at 3am was ambitious, but will running it now distract me from being present at this party?
A Preponderance of Evidence?
Today, in the middle of a harried week of dinner at a co-workers house, our laundry machine breaking, and dinner at the convent. I had zero interest in running, but between snoozes I remembered the pleasant look of my November calendar with all my scheduled runs filled in; I decided not to start December with a blank.
Out of bed at 7am for a short 5-miler and quietly pattering past the temple a mile in when it happens. The little white dog that chases me every day suddenly pops out from the house on left. Ugh. The teeth catching on the skin as she release is how I know I am bitten. Not a bite,just a nip really - but a burning nip that draws blood. Saunter on and she turns away seemingly as surprised as I am by today's encounter. Out of range, I stop. A little blood. A little bruising but not dripping. and check it, a little blood and bruising - not dripping.
Fun Fact - When bitten by a dog in a foreign country the first step is to immediately find soap and water and rinse it as well as you can for 15+ minutes (This is the best way to prevent contracting rabies according to the World Health Organization). After the full run is finished, I tell P. Kame (the nurse), grab cleaning supplies, and tend to my wound.
Are the cosmos telling me that I should not run this solo marathon? It feels like it, but I can still feel (and strangely taste) the 4 rabies shots from today. Right now, it does not seem like any running is prudent. But my adventures rarely come without a medical bill.
2 Run or Not 2 Run...
I have thoughts on how to give reason and meaning to running my solo race, but maybe they're contrived. Should I throw in the towel? Would quitting be that amazing second place trophy I talked about in Voices. Vision Volunteering. ? No. It's not; but asking these questions before running seems like another step toward the person I want to be. Even thinking about it this much seems like too much - but this is how I interact with and try to make sense of the world.
Sr. Pranee seemed to say it best when I returned from the emergency room, "It is good luck to get hurt so close to your birthday; we believe you will have good luck for the whole next year. We love to think positively!" Thanks Sr. Pranee, I think that means I should run it? Or am I reading into it?