Let’s face it. No one likes Mondays. Unless it’s a holiday. And then, only if you get it off (as Mr. UnRunner points out, most of the working world doesn’t get random school holidays off. I think he’s just bitter…)
It was a surprisingly warm and windy day, and I was itching to get out but it didn’t happen. Between work and some other things (read, my poor time management skills), I couldn’t squeeze it in. I am transitioning between quarters, which means I’m grading like crazy. However, I also decided to do a couple of things that took some time. I’m getting ahead of myself a bit.
I recently joined a Facebook group for local-ish ultra runners. Yes, I am considering dabbling in the world of ultra running. I’ve been curious about it for the last two years (right after I met my first live ultra runner, what up Bianca!), but with my BQ goals there was never a good time in the training to fit it in. There is time now…Before training for Boston commences.
There’s a local ultra, the Paleozoic 50k in mid-November, that I’ve looked at a couple of times (they have a spring version too). A 50k seems the perfect toe dip into the world of ultra running. And I didn’t race Chicago so my body isn’t that battered. And I know a couple folks doing it. I can hear the exclamations of horror, disgust, and general f*ckery around my desire to do an ultra after a bruisingly long cycle of training for the BQ. BUT, one of the things that’s been super-alluring to me about the world of ultra running is that it seems so much more mellow. It really is about doing the course and finishing. It doesn’t have that pace-madness marathoners can get wrapped up in. Ahem, me included (and if I’m totally off in this interpretation, feel free to chime in). The idea of just doing a long run with a friend (my friend Amy and I would run together) in nature, on a trail, sounds amazing. Having some support along that run and not having to pack everything yourself sounds even better. I’ve really enjoyed my small, intermittent trail runs the last year.
HOWEVER…there’s an issue. Mr. UnRunner is out of town that weekend for some training. And there are those two small pesky humans that leave messes, eat all the good food, and won’t leave. And we don’t have family nearby. So either I would have to ask my in-laws to come down and watch the cherubs, or I would have to pay for a sitter for pretty much the entire day. A full day of childcare so that I can run 30+ miles in the woods. For fun. Can we say first-world problems?
BUT, it also happens to be my birthday weekend. And that brings up the whole thing of whether I want this to be my birthday thing. Which seems insane. So I continue to mull…
That was actually a major digression. The reason I brought up the ultra group was that I saw people posting about Alfred Perro Pedro, a local ultra-runner who has ALS. I had seen something about him recently by my friend Bill on Facebook so I did a quick Google. I was moved by what I found. There has been a groundswell of support from the running community to help raise funds to defray his medical bills. People have started crowdfunding pages and helped coordinate race-related fundraising. It made me realize how amazing the running community is. And how important that community is to me. And because I’m an English major always, it invoked this poem for me. I love me some John Donne.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
This made me get off my butt and do something. One thing I wrote about my Last Chance Marathon experience was how overwhelmed I felt about the support and encouragement I received from my BFF crew. I couldn’t believe how many people wanted me to reach my goal and truly were happy for me when I did. And it made me realize that I don’t do enough to help others and give back to the community which I love so much. I can’t always be on the receiving end. So today, I decided to do a few things to get out of my own wants and desires and help someone else.
Last year when Lauren first got diagnosed with cancer, we (BFF) all did a big call for bone marrow registration and whole blood donation. I registered to be a bone marrow donor at a registration drive on campus, and I went to donate blood. I hadn’t done another blood donation since last fall, though, and I recently got an email detailing a need for my specific blood type. So today I went to give blood. I even took an iron pill earlier to make sure everything was solid (In college I got turned away from selling/donating my blood plasma because I was low in iron. I was also vegetarian though.). Having access to Oreo’s after donation doesn’t make the process so bad 🙂 I did remember, though, that I had felt nauseous later in the day after donation and it happened this time too.
One thing that I thought was funny was when the tech took my blood pressure and found it low–90 over 68–she asked if I was a runner. Admittedly, I was also wearing a Mother Runner sweatshirt i had just gotten from the Chicago Marathon expo. I do have low blood pressure, though, as new doctors always query me about it. I think it’s somewhat genetic, as my sister has similar stats. In fact, because we are weirdos, we tried to have a “low blood pressure” contest with my mom’s blood pressure monitor at home. Yeah…that’s what being Asian does to you. Everything is a competition. Haha. I also made a giant vat of potato leek soup and realized that there was no way one adult and two small children were going to be able to eat all that (nor were my kids likely to eat much of it at all). Then I remembered a friend had broken her foot recently and a mutual friend of ours was helping to coordinate meals for her. I realized that I could drop off some soup for her, but then I also decided soup was not enough, so I also made a big baked penne. One for me and one for her 🙂
And finally, my tomato plants are still producing and I am sick of raw tomatoes. I have a friend who loves them, though, so I harvested a bunch and dropped them off at her house (she had workers over so couldn’t leave) after I gave blood.
Coincidentally, Jen also did something caring. She drove 2.5 hours to take her good friend to chemo. Jen’s friend was diagnosed this spring with breast cancer.
Finally, a friend (Sharon) ran the Des Moines Marathon and posted about how she stopped to help a woman who was having serious cramping issues and was not near a volunteer or aid station. She stopped, disregarding her time, to help her rehydrate (with Sharon’s fluids) and to help get her to an aid station for further assistance.
All of this reminds me that we are in community with one another. That truly none of us is alone. And that it’s good to not only humbly accept whatever help and support is offered, but it’s also good to make sure you’re giving back to your community as well.
There’s a great YA book called Wonder by RJ Palacio. I don’t want to get too much into the book, but in interviews, the author has described the book as a “meditation on kindness.” And it is that. Here are two quotes in particular.
Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.
When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
The book has spawned a huge antibullying campaign around the phrase “Choose kind.” While my 3 acts aren’t tied to bullying, they are about showing the world more kindness (in some very small ways). About making the world a little nicer and kinder than how you found it. And while I’m not saying my acts are life-changing or even all that demanding of me, I am making a choice to help someone or make their day a little better rather than making it worse. Because when given the choice, wny not choose kindness instead of malice or indifference?