Yesterday, against my body’s wishes (It was cold. It was a Saturday. I didn’t have a client. I didn’t have to go out of town.) I got up before 6 a.m. and got dressed to head downtown for Huntsville’s annual Liz Hurley Ribbon Run. Six thousands runners. All dressed in matching t-shirts and tutus, stretching and cheering with coffee and nerves and goals for PR’s.
Much to the surprise of just about everybody I ran into yesterday, I showed up in my Power In Pink hoodie and some big baggy jogging pants with one goal: to see my clients cross the finish line. I literally thought people were going to fall over when they found out I wasn’t running. The truth is, well, I don’t run, not really. (Unless you count the half marathon in Pittsburgh coming up in May but that’s special. You can read about that here.) But, even more than that, sometimes I just need a day off. And, for me, it’s even bigger and something I’ve had to come to terms with over my career in the fitness industry.
It’s o.k. for me to not participate.
I was talking to my yoga teacher the other day, reminiscing about how I used to teach at 5,000 gyms (o.k., that may be exaggerating a little. Maybe 3,500? Insert slight sarcasm here.), teach every class that was offered to me, sub every class I was asked to sub, try to participate in everything that was going on in every gym, every workout everyone wanted me to try and do, no matter what time and what day. Not only did I drive myself nuts and wear my body down but I also started to gain weight. I didn’t really know what I liked or how to really work on what I needed to work on because I was all over the place. I had no direction.
Yesterday, I had clear direction. And let me tell you, it was a BEAUTIFUL sight to see so many people I knew crossing the finish line. From watching my son’s track coach finish that 5K in 19 minutes (yeah, he’s the track coach but I never saw him actually “run” before), to seeing two of my clients finish their first 5K, to watching my aunt stop in the middle of the race and give a shout out to her alma mater, seeing people with their smart phones taking pics of themselves crossing the finish lines, kids barely four feet tall, teenagers, seniors, couples crossing the finish line together, men wearing pink, breast cancer warriors running with their friends, dog in costumes and a crowd cheering everyone on, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. And I could not have had that while I was running.
It’s o.k. to be on the sidelines sometimes. You get to observe and think about your goals while not being under pressure about being in the moment of reaching one, if that makes sense. I was able to catch both of clients after they were done. I saw so many people I knew and was able to give concongratulatory hugs and hi-fives and listen to them get excited about their personal bests and how they were glad it was over. 🙂 And I even had the opportunity to show a few them the pictures I took of them near the finish line.
I also felt a deep sense of community, about how everyone wasn’t out there “just” to be a “runner.” To see people honor their family and friends who are facing breast cancer or who have succumbed to it was really humbling and really real. To be honest, it’s hit me a little harder this year and I’m glad I was able to just take it in instead of “running” away from it. I was able to be with my thoughts.
I won’t list all of my friends/family who have battled breast cancer out of respect for their privacy but, on behalf of Bertha Mae Miller (my great grandmother) and Joyce Ann Edwards (my mother in law), I thank you for your selfless act yesterday.
And I am glad I made the decision not to participate physically so I could participate mentally.