Wednesday, 20 April 2016

And so it begins.


I said it aloud as I exited today's London Marathon Expo, but I wasn't entirely convinced it was an accurate statement.

"And so it begins."

It. It, being the final journey to that start line and that grand tour of this big, beautiful, old city, on foot. For 26.2 miles.

It, being the first time I've road tested this ridiculous mental iron that has somehow built up inside my head. But I've now thought it through and 'It' didn't actually begin at today's expo. 'It' began in October.

Not the most recent one with those base training miles, either. This particular October happened in 1971.

My mom says I was the loudest baby in the hospital nursery. Yeah, I can see that. I can hear that. It comes out of the mouth of my son when he's on Captain Crabbo mode. For me, that noise has materialized in a fair few different ways over the years. In performing on stage as a kid, those dancing days. In my university degree art classes, just empty the noise in my head, spill feelings from guts on to page and it's *out there* and you can move on from it. Noise, noise, everywhere noise. I revel in expelling noise from my head.

Sorry to all you quiet folks out there.

In the absence of ballet, I silenced that noise with golf for a while. That's some sport, golf. I found it strangely similar to ballet - dead quiet internally, focused on one miniscule thing at a time, and that exasperating ball which never seemed to fly far enough. I kept smacking the crap out of it, had one hell of a drive at one point too. The golfing days.

Still those stopped and that silence was grating. As if someone had taped my soul closed and the noise was about to blow. And the purpose which didn't exist. But the purpose returned and with it came running. Years upon years upon years led to that first run, that first race, that first medal. It's not on display because it's saved with the 'Dad things'. I have a box of those, three years plus on from the day he left us, and I still can't bear to open it. I can't sort through it.

But Dad runs with me. From 'up THERE' he runs. We talk. He's a good running companion, my Spirit Pops, the best there ever was. I picture him hanging out with everyone else I've cared about and lost - family, old friends, ex boyfriends even. They're all there every time I crest this one hill. Sitting at some heavenly bar, Sinatra on the juke box, or maybe Barry White, shot-and-a-beer at the ready, the shot always Ketel One, the beer, if he's thinking of me, Old Style. Gnat piss of a beer to coin the phrase of a great Realbuzzer, but it's Chicago fizz and that's my original home town and so it always appears in this story.

So there I feel them all hanging out, watching, urging me onwards, urging me across the line, raising arms victorious with me, together we rise, we rise, we rise.

We all go on and rise. Life turns.

That life which is a funny old story. Every time you think you know where you will end up you round that last corner and find you are only at another beginning. This beginning says I am four days away from my latest goal, that first marathon.

That first MARATHON. Oh my lord, when, where, how did we get to MARATHON. Pride is a vice but damn it, I am proud. I am proud of myself for not only surviving the journey but embracing it. Enjoying it. Running with a smile on my face. Looking forward to all those miles which hurt but if they didn't make me so much better a human being for having endured them, well then I am a flat out liar and you may slap me around the head with a frozen trout.

I am proud of having those five weeks off ill and charging back into a return long run of 10 miles, two longer than I had planned. Start as you mean to go on. And man alive, so I did. Just like I did in that nursery in that 70s October, screaming until I couldn't scream anymore.

I started loud and I'll finish proud.

Proud of myself, indeed, but mostly proud of the boy for whom I am running. My son Rukai. This wonder of creation who is becoming such a magnificently independent, fierce, extraordinary human being. He came into this life screaming without sound, yet his voice is growing louder each day. I run every single inch for that child. I do not know how I came to be lucky enough to become his mother but my God, aren't I the lucky one.

My Rukai roars, and so too will I come Sunday.

Lace 'em up.
Eyes on the prize.
Dig. Dig. Dig.

And so it begins.

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