For Me and For You

I ran a ten-mile race last weekend. I didn’t win the race, but I did win.

I’m reasonably new to running, I started running at the age of 48, just four years ago. I’ve run a few half-marathons and one full marathon, so far. I didn’t win any of them. I’m registered for a couple of half-marathons and four full marathons over the next year. I won’t win any of them. But I still win.

Scarlette Begonia

Why run in races if you’re never going to win?

Running, for me, fulfills a couple of very primal needs I discovered I have rather late in life; it makes me feel free and it fulfills my competitive spirit. If I’m not in it to win it, how does it fulfill my competitive spirit? I compete with myself, I strive for continual improvement.

Fitness is a lifestyle I believe in, it is a lifestyle I foster, it is a lifestyle I create for myself. Let me clarify fitness and what it means to me:

Fitness is a lifestyle that facilitates good health, well-being, continual self-improvement, self-confidence, and self-worth. Joy.

Fitness is not getting skinny enough to wear that dress to the high school reunion. Fitness is not losing weight to look good, to catch that guy, to attract that girl, to get the engagement ring, to fit into the wedding dress. Fitness is not bulking up enough to win a body-building competition. Fitness is not racing once to prove it can be done. Fitness is not about doing it for someone else.

Fitness, your health, your well-being, are only ever about you. It is a choice and one you choose because it brings you joy.

Scarlette Begonia

I run as part of my fitness-focused lifestyle. It is hard, but it brings me joy and a great sense of accomplishment. I race because it’s fun, I enjoy the fanfare, I enjoy the people, I enjoy having a measure of my personal improvement.

In this past weekend’s race, there were 540 finishers. I came in 309th. Clearly, I didn’t win the race. I wasn’t even in the top 50%, but I’m still a winner. I finished. I ran ten miles. I did, however, run at a faster pace than any of my previous races, though this was the shortest race I ever ran.

I poured over the results, the results of others, knowing everyone runs, and races, for different reasons, for very personal and individual reasons. Some folks do run to compete, to win, to be the fastest. Others run for the sheer pleasure. Other folks run because they can. Sadly, some folks run to please someone else.

Scarlette Begonia

The fastest finishers, the winners of the race, the folks who took home the purse and the prizes, ran a full five minutes faster per mile than I. One such man was 72 years old. Winning. I reviewed the field of finishers near my finish time, I came in a couple of seconds behind a woman who was 74 years old.

Scarlette Begonia

I looked at the people who came in last, and these folks were, in my perception, the true winners of the race and should be awarded the highest purse, the biggest medal, and the most recognition. In the last ten finishers was a woman, 99 years old. Winning. Finisher 540 of 540; a woman of 83. Winning. How blessed to be of such good health at that age to complete a ten mile running race, and, judging from their pace, they were moving along fairly well. They eclipsed my rather ridiculous hiking pace. My rather ridiculous hiking pace elevates my heart rate to an aerobic level, it causes me to sweat profusely, it makes my muscles all wonderfully sore for the next couple of days. A 99 year old woman and an 83 year old woman and a smattering of other octogenarians maintained that pace for ten full miles. Think about it; many folks that age aren’t able to drive ten miles, or walk ten feet. When I grow up I want to be 99 years old and finish a ten mile running race! Run because you can.

Scarlette Begonia

I am speculating, but I’m pretty sure those elderly runners aren’t running that race for anyone but themselves. To live to be 99, or 83, is accomplishment in itself. To be able to run ten miles at that age obviates a commitment to fitness, a personal desire for a fit lifestyle. They aren’t running to get in shape to fit into that dress, to get the proposal, to find a date, to please someone else. They run because they can and because it is their choice, their lifestyle, and, I’m guessing it brings them an incredible amount of joy, confidence, self-respect, and self-worth.

And that, my friends, is truly winning.

I do it for me. Do it if you want, but do it for you.

Scarlette Begonia

Scarlett’s Letter August 19, 2013

Monday, again, already. How?

I actually didn’t drive to Sacramento today. And I had eggs for breakfast. Again. There are patterns in life. Some of them get old.

It was a completely ordinary, sort of mundane day. I worked. I ran errands. I talked on the phone with my Sweetie. I wrote. That’s about it. Except for the last two things, the pattern is getting old.

I noticed something yesterday and the “trend” continued today. Is it National No Blinker Week? Or what? Driving is sort of like being a Quarter Horse, cutting cattle, you have to have the innate ability to predict which direction the driver is going to go, you have to be able to read their subtle moves to have any hope of knowing whether they are going left, going right, changing lanes, or what. Do people realize that not using blinkers is potentially dangerous? And at the very least, rude? How much energy does it take to push down or pull up on a lever with your pinky finger? And then there’s the one driver making up for everyone else’s laziness; blinker on for thirty-seven miles. Sigh.

I do know it is National Potato Day. Did you know this? Who decides this stuff? Was there a potato parade somewhere that I missed? Or a potato festival? I didn’t celebrate National Potato Day, I ate no potatoes. None at all. It is also National Aviation Day and National Soft Serve Ice Cream Day! Woo Hoo! So, would I have spent my day better eating French Fries and soft serve at the airport? I’m marking my calendar, perhaps next year that’s what I’ll do. Life is just too short to let an excuse to celebrate pass us by! Embrace whatever celebration is at hand and party on! I wonder what tomorrow is?

Mom and I seem to have sort of an unspoken competition going; who can find the answer quicker. The answer to what? Anything. Dates. Places. Actors. Movies. Directions. Events, past, present and future. Another reason why breakfast goes way longer than it should. Mom uses her crossword dictionary, the Yellow Pages, bits of newspapers snipped out and paper clipped to her current calendar or stuck to the fridge with a magnet, those free maps you could (can?) get at the AAA office, and, of course, her calendars from all of time with tiny little notes in each square written in tiny cursive script. I use Google, IMBD, WikiPedia and WikiHow the most. I have a Garmin Nuvi for navigation, but will often MapQuest something to get basic distances and travel times. I’m claiming victory about 99.9999993% of the time, but I honestly think Mom would tell you she has the same success rate. We are both very stubborn in our ways, in case that hasn’t already been made evident. I am a lover of technology. Mom is not. Lord knows she’s tried, we’ve tried, we’ve all tried. My dad was adept enough and at the age of ninety-one, had a new Dell laptop, because his desktop computer actually wore out. Now I am in possession of his laptop, I think Mom wanted to bury it with him, and the warranty hadn’t even expired. Dad had a Facebook and managed their NetFlix account and all their online healthcare needs with Kaiser; prescriptions, appointments, and test results. My son tried to teach Mom how to use the computer. Once. It was a valiant attempt, to his credit. Let’s just say she drives her Accord a bit better than she drives the mouse. She, somehow, on her first attempt, selected every icon on the desktop and deposited them into the Recycle Bin. The Accord is, at least, insured.

Mom's Google.
Mom’s Google.
Even more of Mom's Google.
More of Mom’s Google.

This disdain of the modern goes well beyond seeking information. Mom waters the yard every day even though there are automatic sprinklers and irrigation in place. True, it may not be working quite as well as it should l, but she won’t pay the landscape maintenance guy to do a tune up on it. She never trusted it anyway. Instead, every day at some point, with her walking stick and outlandish, ginormous straw hat, her enormous black sunglasses, and, I think, my Dad’s jeans and red plaid shirt, she goes out, grabs the hose, and sprinkles everything.  I think it’s an unspoken competition they have; Mom and the automatic sprinklers. Mom thinks she’s winning.

To her credit, she has totally figured out the TV remotes. But, where there is passion, there is perseverance and, eventually, mastery. Of all the things for her to master, the one thing I cannot tolerate. TV. It isn’t TV that I hate, the device itself is quite useful for displaying real entertainment, it’s the mainstream programming I detest. The news in particular. And for as long as I can remember, she has been an absolute news junky. Every day she reads the news, listens to the news, watches the news multiple times a day, the local news, the national news, the world news, the inter-galactic news. I hate the news as much as she hates my “Facebook” (meaning my iPhone/iPad/MacBook/PC/Kindle). Everything electronic is a “Facebook”. I’ve tried to explain. It hurts. I’ve stopped.

Some of my "Facebooks".
Some of my “Facebooks”.

Ah, but she is out and about, in her insured Accord right now, running errands. The TV is off, the house is quiet, and I am so at peace, I can actually hear myself think. I am seriously considering running downstairs and putting dead batteries in the remote before she gets home. That should thwart her for a good hour or two!

Then I think I’ll have to have eggs for dinner. Again.