The World Championships for Track and Field has been going on this week (in case you’ve missed it) and today was the Women’s 5k final. My event.
Molly Huddle and Shannon Rowbury finished 6th and 7th, right behind a cluster of Africans, the finishing time differential not reflecting the true chasm between them and a medal…just like when I ran it.
For someone with 11 years of experience as a pro runner, one would expect I’d be steeped in the nuances of the event, glued to my seat, appreciating the finer points of it all. But it’s funny. In reality I felt removed enough to see the sport how most other people see it. It looks fairly unimpressive. I could see how someone would watch a race like that and think, “Man, why can’t we keep up with the Africans?” or “Wow, we sure aren’t very good at distance running.” It’s easy to lose perspective that the race we are watching is the cream of the crop of THE ENTIRE WORLD and that finishing 6th is much better than what it looks like…which is a person finishing somewhere in the middle. Of nowhere. Today more than ever before, I could see the race through that lens. Not that I buy into that view, because it’s super inaccurate, but I could see what others see.
When I watch races on TV now, I don’t feel a wistful longing. I don’t feel left out. I feel like I’m supposed to be there and I just happen to not be there right now. My gravitational center is there, on that track. I’m not unhappy where I am, and yet I belong there, and here, simultaneously. It’s difficult to explain.
Sometimes I feel like the entire world is conspiring to get me back to my gravitational center as an athlete. Something as simple as how quickly my body is rebounding after having Jude. I swear to God it is straight up freaky. It’s like I’m a transformer, and my superhero structure is always one bad guy away from rapidly assembling. I’ve been running and doing PT and stuff, but not enough to justify the speed of the turnaround. Seriously, a lot of days I don’t do anything because I’m too wrecked from the lack of sleep. I don’t deserve to look in shape yet. It really makes me think, you know, about what this body is truly designed to do.
I don’t know if I’ll ever make it back to the world stage or not. I can’t say if I would have been running side by side with Huddle and Rowbury today, or if I ever will again. I really can’t say. Because I’m here pushing a Mountain Buggy with a baby in it, hanging out with my family in my new hometown, laying down strong roots in the bigger picture life I’ve always wanted. But you know…maybe I will. I’m certainly going to try. My body seems to have a mind of its own. My spirit pulls me towards the trails. There is only one thing I know for sure. I’m really fucking glad I didn’t retire.