I thought he had already left for work. I went into our bedroom, and shut the door. We were both surprised when he found me, on the floor, in child pose.
M: “What the hell are you doing?”
E: “I’m just trying to figure out how to get it all done”
M: “Tiggs, you’re exhausted. You know you can sit this race out. We kinda like having you around here, anyway.”
E: “No. I’d feel worse if I missed it. Besides, there are lots of people more busy than me. I just need to re-focus.”
M: “You’re kidding, right? You are human, you know…”
I didn’t see him again to the end of the school day, when I was leaving work.
M: “Basehart! You going or what?
E: “I’m still not sure. I have to go home, finish that paper, check in on Nat and make sure she is set for when I’m gone, start the laundry, make a few phone calls, pack, and hop on the bike for a half hour to loosen up my legs.”
M: “Yeah...everyone is THAT busy. I’ll see you and your Tetris mind on Sunday.”
And, off I went. Off for a 5.5 hour drive to the Hat Race. I am a busy woman. I’m up before dawn, and don’t stop until my hard deadline of 11 pm. I don’t watch TV. I don’t sit around. I’m able to handle multiple priorities, and strive to remain present in all that I do. I live by lists, not only of things to do, but how long I expect them to take, and exactly when I can fit things in. I do have a ‘Tetris’ brain, and get angry with myself, when I metaphorically drop a plate. Mark tells me I know how to “get s**t done”. My solo race trips are my time to free my body from moving from task to task. It gives me time to organize my mind and plans. It affords me the time to simply stop moving.
I relish having this time. I am not latent. I fill up a lot of Post-it notes on these drives. My children know they have unfettered access to me, and we have had some of our best talks, while I am behind the wheel. I love the leisurely pace of knowing that I can pull over and eat at a Thai place that happens to have sushi, or find the ultimate pizza in some corner of the world, I would have otherwise missed. There is something unique and freeing about going somewhere I’ve never been, and knowing I can take care of myself. My New Year’s Resolution was to make someone smile everyday; on these trips, I smile.
And, then there are the races themselves. I rediscover who I am when I am on these trails, they keep me from simply getting enveloped by my wave of responsibilities. Trail running reminds me to just let life’s little annoyances go. They really don’t matter. I can simply process and release them.
I have run the Hat Race before. In fact, this was to be my third running (my hat trick!), and I received a lime green lawn chair for my efforts. I started this race, as I do most others….I texted Rog. “Remind me to get a full psychological exam when I finish.” I wrote. His response made me smile from ear to ear: “Trail time is your exam. Your drive is unmatched. Enjoy your craziness and kick some mud”. It’s just what I did!
The trails offer me peace like no other place on the planet. I remember being on this very trail over the summer, during a particularly low point for me. I was really struggling, both physically and emotionally. I can vividly recall a text I received from my friend Mary, while running this trail. It meant the world to me and was just what I needed, exactly when I needed it. I am forever grateful for having this woman in my life.
Mary and I, and our good friend Jess, went out for St. Patrick’s Day. We collected free drink cups and laughs so hard, my tummy was feeling it the next day. Being alone on the trails allows me to cherish and re-live these moments. And, more importantly, to be thankful that I not only made it through that low point, but gave me time to acknowledge that I am stronger because of it.So, yes, Mark may unexpectedly find me again in child’s pose. I have my lists and my responsibilities. I will get it all done. But, as I start this week of vacation, with a to-do list as long as my arm, I just might have to take a drive, and go for a run.