Her Soul I’ll Carry Forever In My Heart…

As I write this, it’s been just over 24 hours since the announcement.

On Your Feet!Ā is ending its Broadway run on August 20, 2017.

Now, I know in the midst of everything going on in this world – Manchester, Portland, Kabul, Syria…and the list goes on and on – a show closing is a minor thing. As Ana reminded us all in an InstaStory last night, “No one has died. We will all go on to new things.” And yes, we all know there is going to be a tour.

But at the same time… Yes, we know that nothing lasts forever – especially Broadway shows. Yes, OYF has had a good run of almost two years. But yes, we’ve also all been in the house when the back of the orchestra was far from full – hell, a couple of weeks ago I won the ticket lottery and my seat was FRONT ROW. Side, sure, but front row. Yes, we had all heard the rumblings and rumors for a while, the “if we’re still open” comments from time to time at the stage door. I think deep down we all suspected it was coming.

But it was still one of those moments when the Facebook posts and Tweets started coming from the cast – I was sitting on a bench at my dojang before class and I know I audibly gasped. It felt like a gut punch.

I waited until I got off the subway and was walking home to put on the cast recording on my iPod, and I made it to “Anything For You” before I lost it.

Seriously – ALL the feels.

And yes, we know that no one has died, but it is a kind of a death for those of us who have come to love the show, for whom it’s a safe space to turn. We need the freedom to have all the feels we’re all still working through.

I had no idea what I was getting into on February 19, 2016 when I won the ticket lottery for OYF. I’m not normally a jukebox musical kind of girl, but I quickly discovered this was no jukebox musical. It’s the story of two people who fought for what they believed in and for the life they wanted – and made it happen. The story of triumphing over adversity – in more than one way. It’s Gloria and Emilio’s story, yes. But underlying everything is the story of every immigrant who has come to this country to seek a better life, of anyone who has a dream and the courage to pursue it, of anyone who has faced obstacles and overcome them.

I found a familia that I never knew I had – or needed. I’ve made friends. I’ve learned about this world and about myself – I traveled to Cuba partly because of this show, of wanting to see, to feel, to experience that land. The show has made theatre feel like a safe place for me again after experiences with another show had made it feel not so safe. It’s a haven where I can laugh, cry, sing, dance…just BE.

I’ll see it on Sunday for the first time since the announcement – already planned to celebrate my belt test on Saturday – and I’m sure it’ll be emotional. I’m seeing it on my birthday – a month before closing – and I’m sure it’ll be emotional.

But I won’t be there on August 20. I will be in another place of peace, happiness, and comfort on that day – I’ll be at the beach with my family. I’ll celebrate the show in my own way that day. My last time with the show on Broadway will be August 17 – the night before I leave. On a slightly selfish note, I’m kind of glad my last time won’t be THE last time. But at the same time, another part of me would love to be among this familia on the last day in person. You can bet I’ll be there in spirit.

I’ve discussed the show at length before, and I’m sure I’ll do a farewell post, but tonight I just want to say Thank you. Thank you Emilio and Gloria Estefan for allowing your story to be told in this way. Thank you Emily for the beautiful song you wrote with your mom for this – “If I Never Got To Tell You”. ALL the feels!! Thank you to the cast – Ana, Ektor, Eddy and Kevin, Alexandria and Fabi (and the “new” girls Madison and Amaris), Doreen, Christie, Linedy, Genny-Lis, Karmine, Yasmin, Emmanuel, David, Angelica, Natalie, Alexia, Henry, Nina, Omar, Hector, Liz, Jeremy, Eliseo, Jose, Julius, Jennifer, Marcos, Martin, Brett, Eric, Lee, Andrea, Luis, and Carlos for weaving this magic every night and for those who know who they are, for making me feel like part of the familia. And thank you to my other Feeties – even if I’m not always involved in everything you know I love you!

The title of this post is taken from “Mi Tierra” and it’s the most honest thing I can think of to say about this little show. I will carry her soul forever in my heart.

PLEASE do yourself a favor – if you’re in or around NYC, go see this show before it closes; and if you’re anywhere near a city where it will tour, go and see it.

Conga forever!!!

Life and other stuff

The calendar just keeps moving on! Of course that beats the alternative, so… I’ll take it! šŸ™‚

Got through Open School for the Spring. Hooray. That is always a long day, so it’s nice to have it over, even if we were all like “It’s early this year!”

Last Sunday I went to Whippany, NJ to Jill Hennessy’s gig at the Ukrainian Cultural Center. It was probably my favorite gig of hers I’ve ever been to – super intimate setting and with only her on guitar and her keyboardist. You really felt every word even more than usual, so that was super cool.

After having to prove I’m me to the IRS, I got my refund, and so I have paid for my hotel in Toronto over Spring Break and booked all my excursions for the Italy Cruise. Cannot believe I am nearing the 90-day mark when I can check in and make my dining time reservations!! My excursions are…

  • Villefranche – Nice and St. Paul-de-Vence tour. The Nice part is reportedly a compensated drive, but we get wandering time in SPV which looks like a super cool place to explore.
  • Livorno (Florence) – Winery Tour in Tuscany. Since I spent almost a week in Florence a couple of years ago, I didn’t want to spend the time or money going over things I’ve already seen (though don’t get me wrong, Michelangelo’s David is pretty friggin spectacular), and this tour looks like it will be interesting. Plus, WINE! šŸ™‚
  • Civitavecchia (Rome) – Shuttle bus to Rome and then touring around on my own. I’ve been assured by many people that it’s definitely easy to tour around on your own feet, and this way I don’t get stuck at the Vatican for two hours like pretty much any of the tours do.
  • Salerno (Amalfi Coast) – After much dithering and debating, I’ve decided NOT to do the private tour I was going to and instead will be doing the ship-based Capri on Your Own tour – we go as a group by boat to Capri and then I have 5 hours to explore.
  • Venice – Day 1 is a Murano Glass and Burano Lace tour which looks to be super cool. Day 2 is the Secret Venice Walking Tour. Again, awesome looking tour going where not all tours go.
  • Ravenna – A Ravenna and Mosaics tour.
  • Kotor – Montenegro Highlights which again looks awesome!

So super excited for this trip!! Pre-cruise in Barcelona, I am staying in the L’Eixample area and have a Flamenco show with dinner booked my first night, and a Gaudy tour cumulating with Sagrada Familiar followed by an evening tapas tour. Epic times!!

I’m also planning a trip to Disney World in the second half of August, so it’s going to be a summer of travel and celebrating a big birthday!!

Taekwondo continues to go well! I had the Belt Test for my Blue Strips today and passed, so yay!! I stayed to watch the rest of the testing including a teen testing for his Black Belt. His test was AMAZING and awe-inspiring!! And it made me say “Yeah… so not asking my parents to come when I test. They would be ok with watching most of it, but the sparring would NOT go over well with them (I gloss over it a bit in discussing TKD with them, though right now I am in the “baby beginner”Ā  (my term) adult sparring class where I have dubbed myself the “beginningest beginner” in there. And after hearing what happened to one of our instructors – a Third Dan Black Belt – in the advanced sparring class, I am QUITE happy to stay in my “baby beginner” class for quite a while!). Maybe I could settle them at a restaurant or Starbucks near the dojang and as soon as sparring is over have someone text or call them to say come back for board breaks. Of course, this is probably at least three years down the road, so…

Oh, yeah. You read that right. My little eyes are set on getting that Black Belt. It’s always been in the back of my head, but I was unsure if it was even possible having started older. During our Midwinter Break week, I took advantage of the time off to go to the morning classes – which is almost all women (at least it has been every time I’ve gone). So lots of good influences and role models there. One day we were discussing age or something that my age came up – which of course elicited the usual “NO WAY!!!!” comments I get – and one of my instructors who is kind of becoming a mentor (I have a couple) to me at the dojang said “So you started just a year younger than I was when I started!” And then one of my other becoming mentors and I were talking in the locker room, and she was not only older than me when she started, it took her 10 years to get her black belt, but she did it! Then when I mentioned how running club teammates want me to go to the Gay Games in Paris in 2018 to the Master I see the most, he said “You can definitely do it! And not just Poomsae! You can spar! It’s plenty of time! I’ll coach you and go as your coach!” (The jury is still out on the sparring – see above – but I definitely love Poomsae!) So… Talking with all of them, hearing what some of the other women said – all positive things about what they’d observed with me – and really discovering that I love it helped me make a decision I’d been pondering for a while…

I changed from the “year-to-year” program where I would basically renew my contract every year to the Black Belt Program. With this, I will make payments for a set number of months to pay one lump sum that covers ALL my classes up to Black Belt. I still pay for my tests and doboks and stuff. But the classes are paid for – even if it takes me 10 years. 80% of what I’ve already paid got applied to the program, and that makes the monthly payments even a bit lower than what I’ve been paying with the year-to-year thing.

I am so excited about this!! I know it’s going to be a ton of hard work, but I feel like I can do it. The dojang is an incredibly supportive family – watching so many people come to watch the Black Belt test today proved that. And one of my mentors (who for the second test has made sure she had my marking sheet, and who I suspect will again ensure that she ties my belt on me at the belting ceremony), after I told her I had switched to the program and after she hugged me and teasingly said “So we’re stuck with you for the next set of years, huh?” reassured me that yes, all Black Belt tests have certain elements that are there but they still shape it to the person testing as much as they can. Again, still the toughest thing you’ll do, but there really aren’t two exactly alike.

So I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m super excited!!

So…that’s about it!! Don’t forget to check out Lost In Time GoFundMe CampaignĀ to check out the movie and help support a truly independent film by an awesome female filmmaker, Kat Brooks!!

Peace and light!!

 

Balancing it out; Listening to the body and Looking for the beauty

It was awesome last week having the time off from school to recharge. While the cold weather made me question my sanity for deciding to cancel the cruise I’d initially scheduled for last week, it turns out that my “stay-cation” was all for the best.

First, it allowed me to go to some of the morning classes at the dojang, which I fell in love with. It was all women (apparently that’s usually how it is) with the exception of the Wednesday instructor and the Friday co-instructor. Wednesday was “Beginning Sparring” which was different from “Sparring Basics” in that we did a lot more light sparring rather than the kick and block drills we do on Monday. I’m not complaining about those at all – I need them to learn! But as much as I like to quote “Mulan” regarding sparring (“But I don’t wanna kick the other kids’ butts!”), it was kinda fun. Do I want to build up and maybe compete sparring? No clue yet. But… At the end of class when we paired up and sparred for 2 minutes, the others were all like “Look at that face. So competitive!” And Master Lim said to them “That’s what you need! You need the competitive spirit!” then after, one of the black belts I’ve worked with before said “Get her trained and this one will be your best fighter!” I don’t know about that…we’ll see. But they were all so supportive – one even said “I remember even when you were a white belt…you were always smiley and friendly, but I could just see you NEVER quit. I said ‘She is made for this!'” So it was sadness to leave Friday knowing I won’t be back with them until the summer if then because the schedule sometimes changes.

Other stuff with Taekwondo is going well. I’ve definitely got my form (Tae Geuk Sam Jang) down to the point that it’s all about nit-picking right now. Which is good because the next belt test is on March 5!! Whee!! Tuesday’s class was…challenging. I was not totally on top of things, and it showed – my instructor asked me about it last night; he could tell something was off with me. It’s just a lot of stuff – school is always stressful so there’s that, I got the “we need to verify your identity before we process your refund” from the IRS all of TWO DAYS before I was supposed to get my refund – so now it could be up to SIX WEEKS until I get is (don’t get me wrong – I’m glad they’re concerned about identity theft, but it seems like it should NOT take six weeks if we verify everything correctly; PLUS if they were going to flag a return, they should do it BEFORE they give the submitting agency (TurboTax in this case) a refund date!) which is just added stress as since I’d been given a date I’d planned budgeted stuff around that and was having to scramble to figure some things out (ok, lesson in don’t count on things before you have them, but who knew that this kind of reverse would happen), and I’m tired.

I recognize this.

And that’s why I didn’t stay for Basic Sparring on Monday night, Adult Basics last night, or go tonight. I opted to go to Modo for a yoga class this afternoon, which was great. I may actually make it a habit – take Thursday off from Taekwondo and do yoga. I think it’s a good plan on so many levels. So hopefully I can stick to this and make it work. Of course, next week is Open School so I can’t hit a Thursday yoga class – but I can’t go to the dojang either, so… I guess that works.

So it’s about finding lots of balance with stuff right now. Balance, peace, tranquility…

Yeah, and it’s an election year. *eyeroll* Let’s be honest… I know which party I will be voting for regardless in the general election. BUT… For the primaries, I am completely torn 50/50. There are aspects of each of the two candidates I like – and there are aspects of each ot the two candidates I dislike. If I could create a person with the LIKE qualities of both and none of the DISLIKE qualities, that would be the ideal candidate for me. But as it stands now, unless something happens to turn me completely towards or against one of them, I’m thinking I may just skip the primary. Believe me, I’m all about voting and the power and responsibility that comes with it. But when I’m this torn for the primary candidates yet know I’ll vote for whichever gets the nomination, it seems better for my mental and emotional state to just not vote in the primary. We’ll see though.

I do wish Twitter had a way to “mute” political tweets if one chooses. There are a couple of people I follow – people whose NON political tweets I like so I don’t want to unfollow or mute them completely – who are on totally opposite sides of one party. I’m not exaggerating when I say it is not uncommon to wake up and find that each of them has retweeted (since honestly they don’t usually have original thoughts on the candidates) AT LEAST 25 tweets belittling the other candidate, and it’s ANNOYING. Call me idealistic, but I would prefer that campaigning – by the candidates AND their supporters – would stick to talking about THAT candidate’s strengths and stances. But I know that in the real world it’s all about belittling the other candidate so that it ends up looking like two kids screaming insults on the playground – at least as far as supporters are concerned. Which to me doesn’t help either one of their cases. So I’ll be happy when this is all over. Perhaps wanting to move to Canada or somewhere else. But happy.

In the meantime, I’m opting to use what extra funds I have to support beauty and art in the form of truly independent film. Yes, I’m talking about “Lost In Time” again. Kat released another couple of scenes and man. I totally cannot wait for this film. I so admire that Kat is so far solo producing this (along with all of us supporting the campaign on GoFundMe) and is therefore able to stay true to her vision. She’s said on twitter that story, the people, and everything about this deserves THE BEST and I totally agree. That is why I feel so strongly about supporting this truly indie project and WILL do whatever I can to help it!! You can see the clips Kat has posted from the film as well as learn a bit more at the website: GoFundMe – Lost In Time. Please go and check it out!!

So yeah… I’m all about finding the balance and the beauty in life right now.

Training continues (and other things)…

Training continues to go pretty well. I’m still going to PT for the plantar fasciitis – and now we’re working on massaging my posterior tibialis as it’s tight and seems to be the underlying cause of the PF (though it can also be the other way around…a bit of a chicken and egg thing). But it’s going well.

The past couple of days have been interesting in the apartment. For some reason (I’m still unclear as to why), they had to cut a hole in the wall between my apartment and the apartment behind me

and move the refrigerator and oven to the basement for the night. That part really confuses me as there was nothing done to the walls in the kitchen, so I honestly have no clue. Because they weren’t done by the time they had to leave yesterday, they put a door with a lock where the hole was

until they got here today and finished up whatever needed to be done. Supposedly an insurance guy was to be here this morning, but I was out on a run, so I have no clue. My only guess is something to do with wiring? That’s the only thing I can think that would require getting into the wall and moving the fridge and oven (assuming those are on the same power line if that’s what was going on).

Fridge and oven are back in place and the only casualty seems to be one cooked buffalo patty that has gone missing. I know one is missing because I cooked THREE yesterday. Ate one yesterday and put two in the fridge. Only one was in there today when I got home from running around Manhattan. It was very interesting to see where they had put the stuff that was on top of the fridge (cookies, cocoa-hazelnut butter packets, granola cereal, and A CAN OF SOUP were put IN THE FREEZER!?!?!?) – so who knows. Not a huge deal (other than that buffalo is rather expensive), but interesting that THAT is what was missing. I’m really glad that everything that was ON the fridge is still there as it includes the magnet Kara Goucher autographed for me AND my Disney comp tickets. But all those are accounted for.

After my run around (and around and around) the reservoir in Central Park, I came home and got a shower and saw a little of whatever was going on, then headed into Manhattan. I mainly wanted to hit Adventure SCUBA to talk with them about snorkeling lessons. When I go on my cruise in February, I’ll have some onboard credit and think I want to do an excursion. There’s one in Nassau that’s a catamaran sail and snorkel – and while I’ve asked and learned that you can do it and simply swim or just hang out on the catamaran, I’d like to try snorkeling if I can do it. And this place offers lessons – and if I can do it and like it, I get a discount on any equipment. I just have to call them and set up a Tuesday or Thursday evening and they’ll set me up with an instructor and some rental equipment for the lesson. šŸ™‚ Yay!!

I decided to hang out in the city and try the lottery for Matlida but that left a bit of time. So I headed to a movie theatre to see what was there. I ended up seeing The Spectacular Now, which was actually pretty good (and saw previews for some movies I definitely want to check out!). Lost the lottery for the show tonight, but M and I have decided that we will try again next week. One nice thing they’re doing is keeping a list of the winners of tickets for the past 30 days, and you can only win once every 30 days! Doesn’t necessarily help with tourists trying the lottery, but at least it would eliminate some locals.

Oh, and in what may be a bit of insanity (but will be REALLY fun I know), I seem to have agreed to run a marathon with Jennifer Graham (author of Honey, Do You Need A Ride? which is only like my favorite running book!!) on her blog Endie Runners. And not just any marathon – Boston. I did give her the caveat that I’ll need to save up for the charity entry, so it’ll be a couple of years… But I’m just putting it out there now…I’ll be doing fundraising again sometime in the future. šŸ™‚

So… That’s about it for now. I really do promise to try to get back to coherent, one-topic entries soon. But this is how life feels about now – all scattered!

Peace and running!

Just catching up…

…in time to say “I’ll be away for about 10 days!”

Going on vacation with my family starting tomorrow!! June 23rd was my parents’ 45th anniversary, and they wanted to celebrate by doing a family trip (we’re also celebrating my sister’s and my birthday…the trip is falling between the two). Tomorrow I fly to Orlando, and then the 6th-9th, it’s a big surprise our parents have planned. The 10th we go back to Port Canaveral from wherever we are, and the 11th-14 we will be cruising on the Disney Dream!! I know during the cruise there won’t be internet…before that I don’t know. So we’ll see. šŸ™‚

This past week has been up and down emotionally. Sunday was AMAZING!! I joined Church of the Village, then spoke about family and coming out and stuff (in 5 sentences, but hey!), then marched with the church group and MIND in the Pride March. Such an amazing day!!!

And then Sunday night, my beloved quaker parrot Benny flew hard into a wall in my apartment. He’s hit the wall before, but usually I just pick him up and put him in the cage and he shakes it off and then climbs up to his perch and all is well. So I picked him up and put him in his cage, then covered it up and went to bed. On Monday morning, he was still sitting where I’d put him. So I put some food and water within reach just in case that would help and went to the gym – there really wasn’t anything else I could do for him (I got him in NC from an avian vet who was raising him and his siblings – he knew the people who had hatched them, so he was legit, but he didn’t get a band slipped over his foot right at hatching, so he couldn’t be close-banded and though we knew he was legal, the avian vets around here wouldn’t be able to see him). When I came back, he was dead. šŸ˜¦ Very sad! Tomorrow would have been his 14th anniversary of me adopting him. So… The apartment has been very quiet these past few days. I have to admit I am a little bit relieved since I won’t have to worry about him while I’m away – he hadn’t really been his “normal” self the past few weeks, but there was nothing I could pin down. So… RIP Benjamin Coffin the Bird – January 1999 – July 1, 2013.

Running-wise things are ok. Pride Run went well…I improved my race PR by 4 seconds in spite of gross heat and humidity (I swear whoever decided it was a “green” day has to be from Florida!!). I’m switching up the plan a little this week so that I don’t have to try and get 9 in on a hotel treadmill…which means getting up very early and trying to get it in tomorrow morning before leaving. Whee! Planning to do the Castaway Cay 5K…which should be hot and humid as well. But should be pretty and fun! I’ll try and take pictures!!

I’m doing better with the PF…I need to be more disciplined with the stretching and stuff. I’m still undecided about dropping down to the half in Hartford or not…I’ve still got time to decide. A lot will depend on how training gors for the rest of the month.

So… That’s about it in my life right now. Gotta go and try to finish packing…though staying still in my dark room with the fan on me is really nice as well. Definitely getting an a/c unit of some sort when I get back from vacay!!

xoxo

The spirit screams gazelle!!

I had not intended for this to be my entry today – I had something else I was going to write about, but after tonight’s run, I decided to delay that one for a day or so.

Tonight, it’s all :O)

I’d planned to go to my running club’s fun run – and Wild Women Wednesday post-run dinner – tonight, but this morning we got the message that “due to the nasty weather it was cancelled”. I’ll note that about 25 minutes before time for the fun run to start we got another message that the run wasn’t cancelled, just the dinner (and not for the weather…so, um, ok?) – but 25 minutes is nowhere near enough time for me to get to Central Park, so it was a moot point.

As it turns out, I had already headed out to Prospect Park for a run anyway as the weather was nice – a bit chilly, but no rain and relatively clear skies…and a bit breezy but nothing like the 50 mph wind gusts we were facing at the Cherry Tree. Absolutely gorgeous!!

I got the Garmin and the Runtastic app started (I didn’t move until both were going) and headed off with 3/2 intervals. The first bit was easy-peasy…but then again the first part is downhill. Once I hit the more level section (I think it’s a slight grade down as going the other way it definitely feels like a slight grade up, but it’s essentially flat), both my stride and my breathing got choppy. I had to whip out the inhaler for the first time in forever, but it helped a lot with the breathing. But the stride in that section never did get settled in. I’m really not sure why…just one of those things I suppose.

And then came The Beast (apparently it’s also known as “Zoo Hill”…but I like my name better). I didn’t have my visor, but I made an effort to not look up…just went. And I swear all of a sudden my stride evened out, my breathing settled even more, and before I knew it, I was almost at the top of the thing. The last little bit, but most of that got covered with the walk interval. I’m not sure I’d use the word “flying”, but I felt…light and energetic and really, really good!!

I don’t have an explanation for it really. Oh I’m sure the lack of headwind gusts of up to 50 mph helped it feel easier, but I’m sure there’s more to it than that. Whatever it is. Nevertheless, it definitely was a good feeling knowing Nashville’s coming up in 2 months (from today actually!!). In spite of anything that has been said about it being “flat” (I can’t find it anymore, so maybe they got intelligent and removed it), I grew up in Nashville. It is NOT flat. So to the degree that I can, I need to get my butt on hills at least a couple of times a week and work the incline on the treadmill when I can’t get outside.

I continued on around the path and as I was entering my next-to-last run interval, “Electricity” from “Billy Elliot the Musical” came up on my playlist (I created a running playlist (that I can add to) that I use on shuffle with Runtastic). And even though it’s about dancing, for me it totally applies to running when everything falls into place. And it totally did from The Beast on.

“I can’t really explain it,
I haven’t got the words
It’s a feeling that you can’t control
I suppose it’s like forgetting, losing who you are
And at the same time something makes you whole
It’s like that there’s a music playing in your ear
And I’m listening, and I’m listening and then I disappear

And then I feel a change
Like a fire deep inside
Something bursting me wide open impossible to hide
And suddenly I’m flying, flying like a bird
Like electricity, electricity
Sparks inside of me
And I’m free I’m free

It’s a bit like being angry,
it’s a bit like being scared
Confused and all mixed up and mad as hell
It’s like when you’ve been crying
And you’re empty and you’re full
I don’t know what it is, it’s hard to tell
It’s like that there’s a music playing in your ear
But the music is impossible, impossible to hear

But then I feel it move me
Like a burning deep inside
Something bursting me wide open impossible to hide
And suddenly I’m flying, flying like a bird
Like electricity, electricity
Sparks inside of me
And I’m free I’m free”

The song finished before my run did, but I kept going for the last interval and decided to just let fly (and the fact that it was going to be going downhill was practice for letting fly at the end of Coogan’s on Sunday) and like Jennifer Graham said in “Honey, Do You Need A Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner”…the spirit screams gazelle.

I felt strong.

I felt powerful.

I felt alive.

I like those feelings. A lot.

And that’s why I run. šŸ™‚

My tribe!!

Ok, we all know (or should if you’ve been reading my blog for a while) that I love me some John Bingham books. “No Need For Speed”, “The Accidental Athlete”, all good – funny and touching and relatable for the most part. (I say “for the most part” for me as there are definitely differences, but overall, I get what he’s saying.)

And then somehow (I honestly cannot remember, but if someone recommended it, I wish I could remember who to give them a big hug) I recently stumbled upon “Honey, Do You Need A Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner” by Jennifer Graham, and even without reading a word I just knew. I’d found a book by one of my tribe.

My tribe being those of us, particularly women (though it also applies to men, it’s nice to have something from a women’s perspective), who don’t look like the typical image people have of “runners”. Who could qualify (whether we register as such or not) for the Athena division in races that offer such divisions (usually for women over 150 pounds, though the line varies some depending on the race when it’s offered). Who are by no means “shirtless wonders” (oh how apt that description is for so many like that I’ve met – though there are definite exceptions, Josh in particular being a huge exception to the “fast and front of the pack = ‘shirtless wonder'” rule). But who love running.

Runners who relate to this quote from the book: “The spirit cries ‘gazelle’. But the shadow yells ‘walrus’.”

I flew through this book, loving every word of it. It’s the kind of book that made me one of “those” people on the subway – laughing out loud at some things, and bawling my eyes out at others (notably the chapter “I Believe”).

Graham isn’t fast (though she is faster than me), but like me, she just loves running. Even when she hates it, she keeps going. In many ways, it can be said running’s saved her – just as I can say it’s saved me. And like me, she’s not tiny (as I write this, I’ve just polished off some Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch…ahem), but she gets out there and moves her butt, no matter what.

See? One of my tribe! And if you know me at all, you know I’m not reaching when I say that.

I’m not a shirtless wonder (yes, females can be those too…though their shirtlessness means sports bra only – oh, and by the way, shirtless wonders can on occasion wear shirts…it’s more about attitude than clothing) and never will be. But I want to improve and be the best me – and the best me runner – I can be and will push myself to get there. To wit I now have a new goal for the half (gonna go for it at the Country Music Half in Nashville).

2:15:59!!

(And yes, I know that’s a huge reach given my current PRs. But hey…I ought to have something to reach for, right?)

But back to the book… Seriously, even if you’re not really part of our tribe, check it out. If you’re not a runner, maybe it will inspire you. Or at least help you understand the runner(s) in your life. If you are a runner, I definitely think you’ll find something in Jennifer’s story that you can relate to.

Even if you’re a shirtless wonder.