The 5k was fun (!) though not particularly fast. Considering my inconsistant and/or minimal training over the last year and a half, I was pleased with the effort. It was especially enjoyable because my mom made a last-minute decision to run it too, thus making her 5k debut. It was a good one as, much to her surprise, she was the top in her age group. As the run was a charity, half of the proceeds of which went to support Fuzzy Friends Animal Rescue, the prizes were designed with this theme in mind. Here is a picture of Mom and me sporting our "bone-tie" first-place medals:
The other half of the proceeds went to the Hall Steps Foundation, and the Halls themselves appeared at the event to advocate their charity, which they founded with the aim of making small "Steps" toward fighting gobal poverty. (For those of you who don't know, Ryan Hall is an Olympian and the top American marathoner these days. His wife, Sara, is also an international-caliber distance runner, though she sticks to the shorter distances between a mile and 5k, and hasn't made it to the Olympics (yet).)
Anyways, after the race those of us who paid a little more got the opportunity to go for a 5-mile training run with the Halls and then to eat brunch with them. So, I ran with Ryan and Sara, talked with Sara about living in Viet Nam and my upcoming (soon!) trip to Haiti, and listened to other people ask training questions. I found the Halls to be very down-to-earth and personable people who are passionate about what they do and what/who they do it for.
The whole thing was a bit strange for me. It was so reminiscent of the running-obsessed life I used to live. In some sense, it was easy to slip right back into it for a moment, but on the other hand, it seemed foreign and distant--I felt like more of a passive observer than an active participant. It was kind of like how my version of culture shock felt: strangely familiar. Furthermore, the experience was bitter-sweet, as it brought back to mind many of the hopes and dreams I used to run after so passionately; which I was willing to put incredible amounts of hard work, time, and dedication into; which I immensely enjoyed pursuing; and of which my self-labeled "failure" to acheive ultimately put me off of running and the entire sport for a while.
Thus, hearing Ryan and Sara talk about how they feel they have been given a gift and want to use it as a platform, but also how much they enjoy their lives as professional runners brought back some of those mixed emotions at the moment (but also profound respect for the couple and what they are doing). However, as I pondered my feelings later, I began to sort throught them.
My mourning of the end of my college running career isn't so much about running, but about focused passion. What I miss is not the act of running, or even of competing, or even being on a team. It is knowing my place and enjoying it. It is passionately working toward a goal. So my attempt over the past year to disassociate my identity from running has left me, at times, feeling meaningless and passionless--not a nice way to feel. It makes me doubt myself sometimes. I find myself wondering why, if I really am a passionate person as I believe, why I don't seem able to that one elusive thing that I am passionate about pursuing.
Yet I've had a few things remind me lately that even if there isn't always passion, there can be joy, regardless of the circumstances. When I was younger, I thought that people find one thing they are passionate about (when they are young) and do it forever. Over the past year, however, I met many people whose lives have taken surprising turns, whose careers and locations have changed often. This has been immensely encouraging.
So, while I hope I don't turn into a directionless wanderer, right now I am taking pleasure in the moments of my days instead of focusing on the results achieved in each moment. These days, my moments are rather full--helping to prepare my parents' new strawbale house for their open house party, getting up at 5am to swim, various preparations for our trip to Haiti, going to the library again, baking, running with the Halls--are often surprising (is there really such a thing as "healthy cookies?!") and have many reasons to inspire joy (I'm pretty sure my mom wore her bone-tie into Target to do her shopping after the race). :)