intensely trivial


First, disclaimers: This looks like a poem, and I guess it has elements of poetry in it, but mostly it was just a way for me to process the race I ran yesterday. I didn’t want to take the time to hone it into real poetry (or into anything good, really), but I needed to have more freedom than prose offers. I feel a little awkward posting it, because I did decently well, and I think maybe I shouldn’t toot my own horn, but really that’s not what I intend. I just felt like sharing the experience with my handful of readers.
The race: It was the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, an annual event in Manhattan. It was my first 10K, and my third race ever. I’ve been running regularly for a year now.

Potential — possibility — could it be?
that this tired, thin-spread mother
could succeed at an athlete’s event?
I am no athlete.
I just run so I can eat.
I run because it teaches me weakness and strength.

Bullhorn sounded.
(Was that the start?) I didn’t even hear the announcer
give the warning.
Just started ahead in the plodding pack.
Not wanting to be presumptuous,
I’d plopped myself in the middle,
felt held back in the first mile (all these people!!),
but kept saying, “It’s OK.”
(Don’t think of yourself too highly.)
Slower runners I tried to show kindness to —
(Don’t cut anyone off! Don’t be too aggressive!)

Finally, out of the crush of campus,
in the open breeze, hitting my stride,

Blisters complained early (must be running harder than usual)
No complaints from my muscles or bones, though
Admired the fast runners, running like the wind.
Going north, the headwind 10 to 20 miles per hour
No time to stop for water
No time to stretch in between
Hip ached, but you gotta push on through
(Don’t feel sorry for yourself)

Out in the country (I can do this — can I pass that guy?)
In a race, you don’t have the space to admire the scenery
or scan for foxes
Just focus on the road — (thank you, Lord)

A fraction of breath extra to say, “Go, Marcia!”
(She was my running buddy in my first race eight years ago,
one of two 60-year-old women running today —
here I am, way ahead of her)

Keep going. Half done. Numbers lower than I expected
(they call these “mile splits,” I think)
Run, run
inhale exhale faster now
oxygen scarcer now
thoughts scarcer too

(The kids and Dan will smile at the end. . .
Remember what they said: Mike said, “Go get ’em, Rachel!”
And — Oh, look, people are watching!)

(Only a mile left — I can do this. I know this path.)
Cheers: “I like to watch ladies run!”
Say that, and I’ll run forever for you!
(I can afford to go around the puddle

Time to push. It’s almost over.
Around the park, come on, go! go! push!
You’re not gonna die. Keep going!)

Mirage two blocks away: FINISH.
(Could it be?
Mantra: I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
Give it your all! Go!)

And there was Carrie, smiling!
And there was Jonathan, his face splitting with joy: “Mommy!”
And Ellie! And Dan!
And there was Mollie!
And was I really done?

How in the world could I manage to tear off that thing from my number? Could barely follow directions.
Water! Blessed water!
And Ellie saying, “Mommy, we got you something from Dusty Bookshelf! Here! It’s a bookmark!”
And the kids were tired and had been so patient, and they needed to go home for naps, so, you know, I’m a mom — better get them home. I can find out the time later.

They say I won my age bracket. Huh?
49:11? Well, what do you know.

Maybe I’ll run another race someday.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * Jill says:

    You make me smile. Congratulations!

    Posted 8 years, 2 months ago
  2. * rundadrun says:

    Great post! Congrats on a great race.
    Happy running,

    Posted 8 years, 2 months ago
  3. * Shelley C. says:

    Your post is so cool! I love the way you wrote your thoughts, and I love that you are an athlete! Is there anything out there that you cannot do?!?! πŸ™‚

    Posted 8 years, 2 months ago
  4. * Myra says:

    Great job, Rachel! You go! πŸ™‚ I knew you could do it.

    Posted 8 years, 2 months ago
  5. * Melinda says:

    I adore you! You are pretty amazing; do you know that??? πŸ˜‰

    Posted 8 years, 2 months ago
  6. * Laura says:

    I love this! You did so wonderful; just like I knew you would!

    Posted 8 years, 2 months ago
  7. * maris says:

    So inspiring, really! πŸ™‚ Great job! I feel like I can run a 10K now!

    Posted 8 years, 2 months ago

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