It’s been four months since I last broadcast the goings on of my life into the blogosphere. In that time I’ve moved 700 miles from Chicago, Illinois to just outside our nation’s capital in beautiful Silver Spring, MD. In that time I’ve also run more than 270 miles, training for the New York City Marathon, which I will be running for charity on November 4th – more on that in a bit. Also, I got bangs.
So, what have I learned from all this movement? 5 things…
1. Humans are amazingly adaptable
The prospect of picking up the life of a family of four and moving said life halfway across the country (for the second time in two years) is, at first, daunting. At times it’s absolutely overwhelming. But it happens. Everything somehow gets done, and our lives go on with surprisingly minimal trauma. After only a couple of months in our new space things already feel calm, settled, and quite comfortable. We have adapted to our new environment. And we are all right.
The prospect of running a 26.2-mile marathon (for the first time in twelve years) is, in a word, nuts. But the muscles have memory. I’ve been down this very long road before and, with training, can travel it again. I’ve been steadily building up mileage for months, and where early in my training I was exhausted after a 7-mile run, I recently ran a 20-mile race (which was infinitely more exhausting, but I freakin’ did it!) My body has adapted to the point where it can just.keep.moving. Go humans!
2. A change of scenery is good
Moving to a new city can be disorienting. I truly don’t know how all those old-timey covered wagon folks did it without GPS. The streets are unfamiliar, landmarks don’t yet have meaning, and I never know what people are talking about when they try to tell me where one thing is in relation to another. But I am learning. And I already know how to find important things like good Pad Thai and vegan cupcakes that don’t suck.
Running has been a fantastic way to get acquainted with my new city. I do most of my shorter runs on a trail near my house which, when I remember to notice, is serene and lovely. I’ve been doing the really long runs with a group that meets in Arlington, VA on Saturday mornings, and with them I’ve run through many of DC’s beautiful neighborhoods and its gorgeous Rock Creek Park. Every new run feels like a sightseeing expedition and I can only hope my fellow runners don’t mind my constantly asking, “what’s that over there?” and “where are we now?” Honestly, I’m like a child.
3. Contrary to popular opinion, woodland creatures can be scary
I’ve developed a mild phobia of deer. I used to think they were gentle, beautiful creatures. Now I kind of think they’re out to get me. There are way too many of them hanging out on the trail where I run for them to be up to any good. I imagine them all laughing and high-hoofing each other in the woods every time one of them darts across my path and scares the bejesus out of me. I don’t trust deer.
4. Pain is temporary
Moving is an unsettling, uncomfortable experience. Feeling displaced and overwhelmed is tough. Two things went through my mind that first day of staring down a house full of boxes in need of unpacking – 1) This must be how hoarders feel when that TLC show comes in and starts messing with their stuff. And 2) I can’t wait until all this is over. But gradually, we’ve dug ourselves out from under our possessions, found new spaces for all our old things, and started to feel normal again.
Running long distances also has its uncomfortable moments. Like the 18th mile, or that time I fell and skidded across the pavement at mile 14 of a 16-mile run (which I still completed, bloody arm and all, thank you very much). But part of why I think people even run marathons is to show ourselves that we can run through pain, and come out on the other side feeling like stone-cold badasses. Yeah.
5. People are nice
I’ve moved into a community of very lovely people who are kind, welcoming, and inclusive. I feel lucky. Throughout my marathon training, I’ve been fundraising for Camfed – the Campaign for Female Education – with the goal of funding a year of schooling for 10 girls in rural Africa. It’s not an easy thing, asking people for money. But I’ve been continually astounded by the generosity of my family, friends, and friends of family and friends. The feeling of having banded together with this network of givers to do something extraordinary for a group of girls none of us will ever meet is one of the things that’s gotten me through all the 18th miles and other hard parts of training. And when this is all over, and I’ve crossed the finish line (faster than I did 12 years ago – that’s the goal), I will feel like a stone-cold badass not only for having just run the 26.2 miles that wind through every borough of New York City, but for having done something that will matter more than anything to a girl somewhere half a world away.
Moving (twice) has taught me to embrace change. Training for this marathon has changed my body and my spirit – making both stronger than ever. Fundraising for Camfed has made me feel like we can change the world.
To learn more about Camfed visit camfed.org.
If you’d like to make a contribution to my marathon fund for Camfed, click here: http://us.camfed.org/goto/Tracey2012 and I will forever consider you a stone-cold badass.