It started with a shirt.
There is a statue in town that’s a fairly well known statue… that sits at the meeting of the two branches of the river into the one main river that flows through town.
It’s of a native american with his hands lifted up, by a native american artist, and it sits on the grounds of the local native culture museum and meeting site.
This statue is one of those iconic silhouettes that is just a part of the town’s identity.. a well known place recognized by sight to just about anyone who lives in the area.
(If you’ve heard the Rich Mullins song line about the sacred rivers meet beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the Plains, yes, it’s a statue)
And so… this center was doing an event… a 5k… both as a fund raiser for the center and as part of a campaign to promote physical activity to battle the growing obesity levels in the native american population.
And the event, held right around halloween, had the most amazing logo.. of the keeper but done in day of the dead styling.
So that was the pattern that the shirts were done in as well.
I wanted a shirt.. and I sent the link to my mom… knowing she would want one too.
I would have wanted one even if it hadn’t been for a good cause honestly.
How can you not want this guy on a shirt? lol
So, a t-shirt was $30.
Registration for the 5k was $25 and included the shirt.
I was still in physical therapy from knee surgery… mom still has her issues and still uses the handicap parking pass of mine that she had for driving me around after surgery because she says she can’t walk that far…
So we just bought the shirts… like normal logical people would do… right?
Of course not.
I wouldn’t be typing this out if we had. :-)
Mom decided that she wanted to go to the events that they had going on at the center after the race… and so decided that we might as well just pick up the shirts at the race…
And in the name of promoting activity, the 5k said it was welcome to anyone to run, walk, or leisurely stroll along the river’s bike path… starting and ending at the keeper.
And so somehow the idea turned into "lets just walk for a bit and see how far we can make it.." in the name of supporting the cause.
So.. after seeing that my mom had actually signed up and wasn’t just talking…. I signed my daughter and I up for a 5k.
Ya ever have one of those moments where you go "did I really just do that? why in the world did I just do that?"
This was one of those moments.
Before the injury… I wouldn’t have worried about it much. It’s only three miles. Sure, I’d be tired and sore, but whatever.
But with the hurt knee??
I honestly did not think I had any chance of making it that far… at it was only a few weeks away.
But, I knew that a friend of mine at my old church and her husband were planning to run it, but then she had an injury, and was planning to walk as well.
And I had a friend who is familiar with 5k’s that acted like it’d be nothing… that I could do it.
And I would have my mom there in the same boat…
So… I tried it.
I decided that I’d better prepare.
I set off for a walk… and that first day, I made it 1/2 a mile… took more than half an hour to do it.. had a seriously sore knee.. and was rather discouraged.
I decided to regroup.. rest for a couple of days… and instead of walking along the route I would normally bike (in the direction of a nearby park), that I would go to the school track on the next block over and go in circles so that I was close to home when I reached my limits.
With some rest breaks, I made it a mile according to the gps on my phone.
And so, more days of rest. and then I tried again. And I made it a mile and a half.. with my kiddo lapping me on her skateboard.
And a week before the 5k.. I’d made it 2 miles… and was about to head home….
When my daughter came over from the house, bringing me a drink. She’d wiped out on her skateboard earlier and gone home to wash her hands, so I’d assumed she was staying there.
And so I sat for about 10 minutes with the drink… and then made it the extra mile… for 3 miles. Just under 5k.
So, I knew I could at least survive it… it was a question of how long it would take, and how many breaks.
I did not real walking at all the week before the 5k… scared to push it.
I got my physical therapists less than enthusiastic approval and advice…
And, as I’d sort of already feared, my mother decided not to go the day of the race.. her excuse being because it was too cold. (My daughter and I were both in our very awesome, technical weight fabric, short sleeve keeper shirts and were comfortable outside waiting for it to start. It wasn’t THAT cold.)
I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but the friend had decided not to push it with her injury… a much more valid reason.
And so, not realizing that… I decided that since I’d prepared for it anyway to go ahead and give it a try… and kiddo and I set out alone.
Shortly into the race, I gave kiddo permission to run. She wanted to see how she could do, and I don’t blame her, and didn’t want to force her to hold herself back just to keep me company.
And so I hobbled my way along the river alone.
Kiddo gave up on her running idea around the halfway point, and met me at the water station… so she did continue the second half with me, hopping around grabbing leaves off of trees, walking on benches, etc.. a typical kid being bored and not really challenged at all.
As I somehow dragged myself along.
About the two mile point is where the bottom dropped out.
My legs felt spongy… and I honestly wondered if they would fail me and I would collapse.
I ended up with a quarter-sized blood blister on the side of my big toe… even when I’ve never really felt my shoes rub there before.
Somewhere in the last mile, it got to the point where I felt like the only way I could stay upright and with forward momentum was by bracing my hands on my hips and pushing.
The last uphill area, going from river level up to the pedestrian bridge level to go across to the keeper, I seriously thought I was going to have to put my hands on the ground and all but crawl up.
I made it.
I survived a 5k.
And in an hour and 8 minutes… horrible time, but still a lot better than I’d expected.
Oddly enough, I wasn’t even last… there was a young mom about a minute behind us that was letting her adorable toddler walk along on his own as much as he could, and was carrying him the rest of the way.
So yes, I was walking about as fast as a 2 year old.
But.. I made it.
I finished it.
I did something that seems sort of small in the big picture of things, but that seemed huge in that it was something that I really didn’t know if I could do it.
But instead of seeming like the big victory that it was for me… it just seemed sort of bittersweet.
I crossed the line so late that they’d already started the awards ceremony for the fast people, and so the only person at the finish line to even see us cross was the guy running the timing system watching his laptop. They’d already stopped doing finish line pics so that the photographer could get pics of people getting their medals.
Which was probably just as well. The only people still left along the course were the people holding arrow signs at the places where there were turns, and even their cheering of random things just seemed forced and empty. Somehow when I’m barely able to be moving forward, telling me I’m doing great just really doesn’t sound all that convincing.
We didn’t end up going inside to check out the event stuff going on afterwards. Kiddo was bored, and I was feeling dead.
I showed my mom, the former nurse, the large blood blister… making sure she thought it was ok to just leave it alone… and rather than any positive comments on the accomplishment, she instead just looked at the blister and told me that was when I was supposed to have quit.
But as I curled up on my bed to take a nap at home, the hollow feeling just sort of puzzled me. I’d completed what my goal was. I was proud of myself for seeing it through, even when I was in pain, and even when mom bailing would have been a good reason to not even try.
I did it.
Why wasn’t I thrilled?
And as I thought about it, what came to mind was my high school graduation.
Because it was the same sort of feeling.
I’d done it. I’d made it through, the only one of my siblings who would do so… and I’d done well at that. I was off to college with a substantial scholarship.
But though I had my friends at graduation too and their families… I was still alone. Mine wasn’t there, even if I could share a bit of the joy and pride from the other families.
There was no fanfare from mine… or even really any acknowledgment. No parties or gifts or cards.
Yes, I was proud of myself… and yes, I was doing it for myself all along. It’s not like I was doing it for anyone else, I was doing it for my own future (Another topic entirely).
But, somehow, it just felt hollow that even as much as I was proud of myself… even with all of the challenges that I’d overcome… and even with the support of more distant people… somehow the lack of close people who seemed to even care made it all seem empty.
I hadn’t actually really thought about it at the 5k… but it did seem like everyone else had their cheering squad… their pack of people who cared about them personally, knew what their story was, and cared whether they made it or not.
I’m not sure that anyone else would have even noticed had I given up… let alone cared.
It’s not like I was doing it to earn the approval of anyone else… but, somehow, the fact that nobody else really would have cared whether or not I succeeded or even tried just sort of made the feeling of pride and accomplishment seem trivial.
Most of the time I’ve gotten better about self care… I’ve learned to "fill my own sock" as the post yesterday put it.
But sometimes… well, sometimes that just doesn’t work very well.
Sometimes self soothing and self parenting and all of the years of counseling and books such just can’t cover for how much not having someone there for you sucks.