When I set a goal for myself, it often starts out on my bucket list. My bucket list, which is a mesh of dreams, extracurricular activities, and “things” that are like curios shelved like this and that’s in my mind. Its also usually an incredible list of inspirations and aspirations of the very “things” I’d like to accomplish while here on Náházháán bíką́h. At certain times, my bucket list is my tether.
Two weeks ago I accomplished a personal goal/challenge and ran a half-marathon in what is our second home, in Spokane, WA. The run itself had me doubting myself as I endured the painful last three miles of resiliency, healing, and strength. You see, what initially started out as a goal has actually become a life-way and as far as my health is concerned, I know I’ve become a healthier person because of running and the practice of yoga, in addition to ceremony and prayer as a life-way.
Starting out knowing that I could run a solid 5K without a hitch, and with proper training, running a half-marathon was in essence, running four 5K’s consecutively. While I consider myself an avid runner, pushing my body to do more was a challenge I knew I wanted to journey into. Little did I know that I would gain more than I imagined for myself and looking back in the last year, all the hype I conjured in my mind (and after making it across the finish line) it was a great feeling to know I had met a goal. Failure to launch, because of fear, is for the birds.
The first three miles I paced myself and discovered I was at 9:31 in the first mile and although I felt pretty good, I started to feel the course at 5 miles and started out too fast. Believe me, as the trail wound itself around the Centennial path, up to that point, had not turned on my Mp3. While running, I paid attention to natures beautiful surroundings. The cold brisk air reminded me of the chilly Fall’s of Spokane. For any of you who know Spokane, we have the four seasons and chilly Fall’s are the beginning’s of a cold winter.
As I felt the challenging increase and made my way up and around the trail, I started having thoughts of what this run meant to me personally. I envisioned myself as a woman; mother, sister, daughter, niece, aunty, grand-aunt, granddaughter, friend, lover, and colleague. To be a healthy, happy, loving, kind, respectful, and encouraging Indigenous woman in the world is not so easy to celebrate when woman is not often celebrated in a male dominated world.
As I continued to trek through the Centennial Trail part of the course, I realized that turning on the Mp3 was needed. The first playlist to start was my Purple Prince Love. As I listened to Red Corvette, I had yet to arrive at Doomsday Hill and started to feel a burn. I recalled when that song first debuted and Night Tracks on TBS was where we used to be able to watch music videos, like waaaaay before MTV. The 80’s sure had some great first moments come to think of it, but I digress.
Now, for those of you who know my runners struggle, I’ve mentioned Doomsday Hill as the bane of my runners existence. I have shared that I have ran the Bloomsday 12K enough times to know the score is, Doomsday 5, renee 0. Figuratively speaking, I think Doomsday Hill has been that one struggle I haven’t been able to shake. Just once, I want to run up that hill without stopping… just once. My heroes are the old man (from 2 years ago) AND (this year) the older woman who blazed passed me like zombies were hot on both their trail. Putting it lightly, IF zombies were indeed chasing after us… in their staggering, disfigured, clumsy-disabled walk, I would’ve been zombie fodder.
As I recall that morning, Doomsday Hill was RIGHT before the 9th mile. If you can imagine, my walk-jaunt-half-jog was a pure challenge. At this point in the run, I slurped up some Hucklberry gel and decided that it was my favorite (as opposed to the vanilla) and would buy a box of that for future runs. Along this part of the race there was a young kid with a bowl of chocolate and Gummi Bears and all I could think about was where the hell was the sign to tell me what mile we were in and in my obsessive compulsive nature, got a bit anxious. The reality is I started having bat-shit crazy thoughts like “what the hell was I thinking?!” and “who did I think I was?!” Blisters were making themselves known under my toes and my feet were starting to burn. I remembered that, despite my long runs in training, running long distances has its hiccups in its actuality, Shit gets real!!
Not to mention, during this awakening of the bottom of my toes, my left pinky toe started her crabbiness conniption. At this point, I entered the 10th mile and started to think of all the challenges I went through in the last year since I had announced I wanted to run a halfie. Creator willing, I was gonna crawl across that finish line if I had to.
At this time on the course, despite the blisters, I found beauty and wanna give an Anonymous shout out to that granny who was watering her garden. I made a mental note that I would look into the property value of that house, the greenhouse and garden spread was such a lovely view and place to make a home. While running during this part of the race, I had thoughts of where I’d like to make a home and realize, Spokanistan has a special place in my heart. Having made friends and family there, it truly is a second home and where I had my lil man 5 years ago, boy does time fly.
As I started to feel the hot blisters forming, I knew this was the humbling part of the course for me. As runners from the marathon were trickling by, I found that I was in a league of my own and for once in my life felt like I understood what LL Cool J referenced in I Need Love. Y’know he raps about how he loves her more than a man who’s 10 feet tall? Well, I felt like a shorty McShorty. These giants were running 25.2 miles… yeah, and there I was trekking along still working on a finish for half of what they were running. The run was the beginning of any future runs I will journey on.
Mind you on this part of the course I came across “new” housing which is peculiar to me because its west of the Spokane County courthouse and the newness seemed surreal. “New” houses in an old district that is known to harbor the not so up and up, where drugs, prostitution, thefts, and gangs hang out and I pretty much associate the word “downtown” with the hood. Where one lives makes all the difference versus the many other housing neighborhoods, just made me think it’s possible to rebuild and the metaphor reminded me, I can do the same in my own life. I can rebuild, recalibrate, refocus, realign, rethink, reinvent, and reeducate, in De La Soul fashion, me, myself, and I.
At this point, not only were my blisters screaming, I realized I was close to the finish line. I thought, “shit oh dear I’m going to get there!” The course was winding it’s way close to the finish and as I passed the county courthouse, I remembered 9 days before I had charted my run. The course seemed like it would never end and as police stopped traffic, I ran across the street as “fast” as I could believing I looked like Speedy Gonzales, but was probably more like the tortoise.
As I ran across the bridge over the Spokane River, the roar of the river rapids was a beautiful and empowering sound. Giving me the final finish ump, I got a lil emotional and thought, I could do this again, but with better timing. They say timing is everything, and in that moment I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be. Timing can be being at the right place at the right time or finishing with a time that was less than before. For me, in that moment, timing meant both.
All in all, in true indigenista fashion, as I crossed the finish line, I thought to myself, “Next time, I am running this in less than what I just did!!” You see, as I think and believe, I’m not in competition with anyone but myself. This notion reminded me of a tweet I recently saw where someone gave a shout out to their competition. I thought man, why you giving someone… wait… *pauses* shrugs… Yeah, give yourself a special Shout out because no one else will right? In any event, I knew, the next time, I’ll be on this course feeling the same and loving myself even more.
As I close out my blog thoughts out loud, I gotta say, I made a new runner friend and know, with all my heart, the universe truly does conspire when we state what we want and in that moment… it helps you. I wish anyone aspiring to take on a personal challenge to embark on that journey with all the confidence in the world knowing you can do anything in the world you set out to do, just believe in yourself and quit living in fear. Failure to launch, because of fear, is for the birds.