One of my students at school is a big fan of saying , “It be like that sometimes.” To which her friends always reply, “It really do.” I usually just chuckle and move on, but today that phrase is resounding in my brain.
Last night my husband and I participated in a 5K called The Big Run for Global Running Day. This race, coordinated by Fleet Feet, tabulated a list of over 20,000 runners in every participating city in the country, and ranked their times for a GIANT finishers list. We figured it would be fun to participate for the month of June, since we do a competitive 5K per month. (More on that in a later blog) I am motivated by pretty medals, tee shirts, and free beer!
It seemed somehow that this race was doomed from the start though. We had signed up for it, in part, because it was supposed to be close to our home in the suburbs. Due to massive flooding in the area, it was moved into St. Louis City… which meant an hour drive in rush hour traffic to get there on time. As the race time drew near, ominous clouds started rolling in. The race coordinator made a joke about needing everyone to PR in order to avoid the storm. We all chuckled and moved to the starting line.
Right before the race began, sprinkles began to fall from the sky. We all nervously shuffled on our feet and prayed that it would stay that way during the race. But, the starting horn blasted, runners starting moving forward, and it started raining. No, not raining. MONSOONING! The rain was coming down in sheets so hard you couldn’t even see. At first, we tried to laugh it off, because surely it couldn’t keep that up. In fact, it was comical.
To keep this story in perspective, please keep in mind that while I do 5K races, I do not RUN 5K races. I compete at a fast walk pace… like a 16 minute mile. So, the rain was coming down, the running pack began to disappear from view, and dismay set in. With every step, it seemed to rain harder. The puddles grew larger. My shoes started to slip and squish. My ponytail stuck to the back of my neck. My neoprene running clothes were as wet as if I had been hanging out in the deep end of the pool. By the time we finally finished just 1K of the race, I was so frustrated I wanted to cry and turn back. But I didn’t.
We kept walking and kept hustling as fast as our soaking wet feet could take us. The rain would slow down for a bit, then come back with a vengeance. There were parts of the path that were so flooded, we couldn’t avoid slogging more water on our legs. I kept hearing a strange sloshing sound, looked down and realized, there was an ocean of water trapped in my sports bra, rocking back and forth between my breasts. The sun was setting and it was getting darker and darker. Fewer and fewer people seemed to be moving in front of us. But, we were too far in to turn back, so we just had to keep moving forward. The rain kept pouring. We fought for every stupid step of that 5K.
As I crossed the finish line, I turn around to see the last five people trailing behind us. When they handed me my participation medal, and said with a sad smile, “Good job guys,” I could barely say thank you. I was just mad. Heartbroken. Frustrated. I didn’t feel fierce or empowered at all. I just felt like a fat, pathetic woman who everyone at the race should pity. What was I even doing there?
I know. I know. I’m lapping the people on the couch, right? At least I got out there and did it, right? Well, I didn’t feel like that at all. I felt like a joke. And you know what? It be like that sometimes. Our body acceptance and empowerment fight isn’t always going to be awesome. We aren’t always going to feel like a fierce warrior or a champion for the unseen. Sometimes it’s going to feel like we are fighting for every single step in a downpour. Sometimes we will feel like people are pitying us because we don’t belong in the crowd. Sometimes we will just want to cry and feel sorry for ourselves. And you know what? THAT IS OK!
What you do with those feelings is what makes you the warrior. When the rain starts pouring and won’t let up, do you turn back and quit? Or do you keep slogging through the puddles, hold your head up, and fight? Not every day is going to be a good day. You aren’t always going to feel powerful, beautiful, or even worthy of love and attention. But keep walking.
There are days that just suck. It be like that sometimes. It really, really do.