A race over too soon

This week in one of my Facebook groups the posts have been filled with pictures and memories. A woman who’d been with us in many training sessions died after a brief bout with pancreatic cancer.

fleet feet running
Lynn Hutchins Edwards

Her friends reflected on her ever-present smile and the fun she brought to even the most mundane workouts. In fact, sometimes they missed the turns they were supposed to take because they were having so much fun. She trained with the training groups sponsored by our local running store and she served as a mentor for other training programs. She was always ready to encourage someone else, trying to seduce them into loving running as much as she did.

I spent some time looking at the pictures they posted and yes, she was smiling in every one. She was strong and she was fit, but she wasn’t petite. Still, she was a runner.

As I looked at her beaming face, I thought about how many women keep themselves from such joy simply because they don’t think they’re the right size. They’re afraid of what someone might think. Their fear of what doesn’t matter (what other people might think) keeps them from doing things that really do matter.

When I bought my first tri suit the saleswoman warned me, “it’s going to show every bulge and you just have to step out anyway.” She was right, it does. But she was also right in that I did. Now I’m training for my seventh triathlon. More than that, I have the joy (okay, and sometimes the agony) of all of those races. I didn’t let the fact that my body wasn’t perfect keep me from a perfectly good time.

Lynn was average size with a bigger-than-average heart. And she was a runner.

Thank God for that, for through her running she blessed us all.

You go, girl.

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(Not quite) Ready for My Closeup

So two mornings a week I’m helping with a training program sponsored by our local YMCA and run by Fleet Feet sports. I’ve helped with this program before, helping people move from being inactive to completing a 5K race, and I love it.

This time is a little different. One difference is that we’re meeting in the morning. Another difference is that one day a week, the TV cameras are there. Morning show personalities from our local TV station are participating in a weight loss challenge, and one of the things that they’re doing is participating in our program.

On the day of our initial information meeting, I came dressed in my running clothes. Before the meeting I’d been across the street, doing speed work on the track. I was sweaty. My hair, dirty before the run, now had the benefit of being frizzy and sweat soaked as well.

After the presentation ended a couple of us were talking together about how much we did not want to be on TV. The words were no more out of our mouths before a microphone (and camera) was in my face. “Would you share your story?” the reporter asked.

I took comfort in the hope that they would not use it. But after a day or two I started getting messages on my Facebook wall: “Saw you on TV!”

Sheesh…

My first thought was to be embarrassed. I knew I looked a fright (and it wasn’t even Halloween yet!) But then I kept thinking…

When a football player is interviewed after a game, the last thing on his mind is how his hair looks. I’ve never known of a player who ducked an interview because he hadn’t washed his hair yet. It doesn’t matter. It’s not the point.

We who are women are often focused on the wrong things. We focus on all that is wrong with our bodies instead of all that is right. How we look is always the trump card that carries more weight (no pun intended) than everything else. A few years ago I could not move my left leg, and now I run. And I was worried about my hair?

I realized that I just needed to get over it. When I run or work out, my hair does get messed up. And it doesn’t matter. The point isn’t how good I look. The point is profound gratitude that I can move, that I can run. My body is doing what it’s supposed to do.

If I’m booked for a TV interview, I’ll do the hair and make-up routine. But if you catch me on the run, you’re going to catch me as I am. And that’s perfectly fine by me.