Considering that I haven't been running consistently as I desired, I am not as ecstatic about tapering off next week as I thought I would be. This morning, I would prefer to cuddle with my freshly made chocolate chip cookies and half bottle of Nahe but I'm very rigid and discipline with my schedule. There's only enough wiggle room for me to workout later but rarely ever to push off until another day.
Although the week isn't done, I cannot help but reflect on my 20 mile run from Wednesday. Empowered is a great word to use to describe that run, especially since I finished the 18 Miler over the weekend. Originally, I planned to hit four bridges: Pulaski, Queensboro then cruise to Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge and if I needed more mileage, to the Williamsburg Bridge. Instead, I opted to battle the lethargic and view struck Brooklyn Bridge crowd during some of the worst times of the day. Parts of me wanted to strangle each and every tourist that stopped within mid stride to take a picture on my way there. I knew the views of the Hudson River running path would calm my nerves once I made it over.
Around the 8th mile, I reflected about this summer's extra load of crazy and some of the things that I'm still processing. The loss of my children are heavy weights but I'm willing to tote them because I know in time, the fragility will be replaced by peace. I am honestly not there yet. Hitting Pier 40 reminded me to stop and take it all in. I longed for nostalgia desperately on Tuesday for familiarity. Running for three years has been incredible but when you are doing it with eyes watching, regardless of what scale it may be, sometimes you question your intentions.
During my first NYC marathon, I remember feeling the joys and anxiety of not understanding what I asked my friends and family members to do. I put out an open call on Facebook and buzzed in my friends' ears to please throw me every ounce of positive, crazy juju for that day. They came through much harder than I ever imagined. Now at year three, I understand how much that can work against me if I don't make it across the finish line. I don't think that they will shame me nor tell me that I'm a failure but it can quickly shift from not wanting to disappoint yourself to not wanting to disappoint others. In turn, I took time at Pier 40, mid run, to drown out every ounce of that noise.
Every person is driven by something or even, someone. Some people move mountains because they desire fame or to be admired. A lot of people are looking to check something off of their bucket list and hell, at one point, I was one of them. This was a bucket list item that I became so engulfed in that I couldn't imagine walking away from so swiftly. At the moment, I am driven by a mixture of endorphins, discovering myself through each breath, the unpredictability of where my feet may take me and the adventures. Running has helped me clear my mind to talk with difficult people. In ways, it's an active form of meditation that I started to rely on and without it, I feel lost. When people failed me, my running rarely ever has that affect on me.
Around mile 12, I turned around and headed back to the Brooklyn Bridge. Quite frankly, 6pm on the Brooklyn Bridge makes you want to jump into it. The crowd was worse and I found myself speed walking angrily, shoving folks into the tetanus shot seeking water in my brain, because there were no options to run at one point. Once I reached Downtown Brooklyn, I started to slow down again. No need to truly rush, aside from my need to feed my starving family and family friend. My internal soundtrack shifted from Don't Drop that Dun Dun Dun to Quiet Storm.
In NYC, most people are so accustomed to the hustle and bustle of things that people rarely remind us to slow the hell down. Frankly, as a black woman, slowing down didn't seem like an option if left to stereotypes. Slowing down, for years, was equated to being lazy or willingly giving up an opportunity to someone else without a fight. The act of slowing down was so taboo to me that often, I have to give myself permission to do so. Everything doesn't require immediate attention. I don't want to treat my life like fast food and wake up 70 years old never knowing what a gourmet meal taste like, if this makes any sense to you at all. I cruised to my neighborhood, picked up a pack of batteries for my husband and at the end of my run, I watched the rest of the sun set. Eerily enough, the oranges, red and yellows reminded me of days spent with my father in Kingsborough Projects. He would let me run around in circles with the neighborhood children while he talked shit from the bench to other adults. But like clockwork, I could see my father always taking a moment to sit in stillness, looking to the sky as if it was his prayer and watching the colors bounce from his medium brown iris as he smoked his Newport shorts. I never understood how he was able to schedule in moments of peace in his chaotic life, a story that's a book of its own, but as an endurance runner, I get it. Reclaiming your peace, even for five minutes daily, is like a drug and when I'm able to match it with my breath on the pavement, I am thankful for it. This morning, as I dread leaving my home, I'll be reminded that this run is going to give me that same salvation.