Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Breaking News: Old Bitch Learns New Tricks

Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States and I am training for my first five mile race. Three months ago I wouldn't have believed either of these things could be possible.

But there's Trump, touring the White House with President Obama and assembling his cabinet, and here's me, slowly but surely logging miles along the Chicago lakefront in preparation for the 8K Turkey Trot in Lincoln Park next week. Life is full of surprises.

I've never been a runner but I was inspired to take on this challenge in August when my daughter Emma and I watched her boyfriend Kevin do a half triathlon with his friends in Chicago. There were so many different people competing - all ages and body types. We stood cheering the athletes a half mile before the finish line. Some people were exhausted and some were exhilarated, but they all were determined to reach their goal. It was awesome! I wanted a piece of that sense of accomplishment.

"Emma," I said, "We could do this, or at least we could do the running part. Let's sign up for a race at Thanksgiving at do it together."

Emma, who played competitive soccer for 13 years and has run several races including the BIG 10 ten-mile run, looked at me skeptically.

"You always say you're going to do things," she said, "and you never do them."

Oh, snap. That hurt.

"Well. I guess I'm going to have to do this one then."

I found a training plan for beginning runners online and began to follow it. The plan assumed you could already run a mile - something I hadn't done in like forever, but I gave it a go. Encouraged by that first mile I invested in some running shoes and supportive inserts. I've been running ever since.
Emma and me on a training run on Navy Pier.

It doesn't come easily. First of all, I'm slow. Second, every time I head out I have to overcome my fear. I'm not sure what I'm so frightened of - that it will hurt, that I can't do it, that I'll fail. But once I get chugging along I do a check-in with myself - look, you're fine, you're breathing, it's a little uncomfortable but nothing actually is in pain. And when it does get hard I ask myself, "Am I really more tired than all those triathletes were on their last half mile?" The answer is always no. I also think of what Emma said, damn her.

Friday I ran four miles along the Lakefront trail - a beautiful route from my condo down to the Shedd Aquarium and back - so I'm almost ready for next week's big race. Each time I reach a new milestone I feel so great about myself. Look at me, I'm 53 years old and I'm doing something I've never done before!

If I can do this new thing, what else can I do?

Donald Trump was not my candidate.  I was dismayed when Hillary Clinton lost the election - I still am. But one thing that stunning defeat made me realize is that I have to get involved. It's not enough to send a donation or post an anti-Trump ad on my Facebook page or laugh at a snarky SNL skit. I can't expect other people to do the important work for me. I'm not sure what form it will take yet, but I'm resolved to take action, especially for women's rights, human rights, and equality for all. America has come far but the fight still continues, one slow milestone at a time.

Hillary lost, but as a result there's a newly activated me. I'm no old dog. I'm an empowered bitch ready to tackle new tricks. Hear me woof!


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