Sunday, November 6, 2011

An open letter to my physical self

I just wanted to say thank you.

The human body has an infinite capacity to forgive you for not treating it particularly well. For years, I took care of my health in a way that could barely be called taking care of my health. And then, yesterday, I had this turning-point sort of day.

Completing a 15K (that's 9.3 miles to those who don't play in the Metric pool) is not something that's generally done by someone who is unhealthy, or someone who doesn't take care of herself. Running that distance - regardless of pace - is not something that's done by someone who mistreats her body. No, this is the sort of thing that's done by athletes. By runners.

I am one of those people.

So, to my feet, thank you. Thank you for carrying me through the beautiful city of Chicago on a perfect fall morning, for continuing to propel me forward even when you started to hurt. For keeping me upright after the race, so I could walk through the party area and get to the main event - the chocolate! And for the record, to my black toenails, I'm sorry I did this to you again. But really, toenails are for sissies.

To my right Achilles, thank you. Thank you for healing, for standing strong through injury and recovery. It's been a tough road, and I still need to treat you gently and with respect. I am so grateful that you allow me to run. There were moments, earlier this year, when I was convinced it was over. But you rose to the challenge, and you allowed me to work my own little miracle. To go from fat girl to 15K runner in just a few years is pretty amazing. I could not have done it without your cooperation.

To my knees, thank you. I know you didn't like the stairs this morning; I know you still feel every step we took together over the 9.3 miles. I promise to keep doing what you need to stay healthy. Together, we will take off the remaining excess weight. I think we'll both be happier then.

To my legs, thank you. I didn't know how strong you were! After a nice bout of stretching this morning, you groaned only a little and seemed to ask, "what's next?" You have adapted pretty brilliantly to this new activity. You still jiggle, and you probably always will, but I think that's just your way. Under the jiggle, though, there's some badass muscle. You, legs, are pretty amazing. How 'bout a kickbox class to celebrate?

To my core, thank you. Poor abs, you aren't sure what's up, are you? I really had to convince you to work at around mile seven, when my lower back started talking to me. You had to step up and hold it together. You did a great job. We have some work to do, you and I, but you came through like a champ.

To my arms, thank you. Running is pretty easy on you guys, but you kept great rhythm, and you were awesome at waving to people along the way. And without you to hold my iPod, it would have been a long race indeed!

To my heart, thank you. Thank you for giving me the strength and endurance to make it through a long run. But most of all, thank you for opening up and allowing me to embrace and love my running community. Because of you, I have run alongside some of the most beautiful, talented athletes. I have been supported, encouraged and inspired by many more, because somewhere along the way, you decided my life should not be a solitary one. I'm not kidding at all when I say I owe my every physical accomplishment to you.

To my shoulders, thank you. Thank you for bearing my worries and holding up my big head, and for reminding me to stand up straight. Running posture is hard!

Finally, to my mind, thank you. For quieting all the bullshit, for letting me get outside of you and into the moment, for trusting in my ability and my training. Thank you for realizing I needed to change and then ... slowly ... allowing it to happen. Thank you, too, for that amazing runners' high thing. I enjoyed endorphin-induced euphoria pretty much all day yesterday. That alone is enough to get me back out there.

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