Really, who loves their race photos? Most of mine are ghastly. Since I tend to take short steps without lifting up my feet much, it’s rare for me to ever have a photo with both feet off the ground. That’s only the beginning of my litany of woes. My eyes look squinty, or shut, I’m not smiling, my form is ridiculous, etc. etc. Plus, I look as if I’m running a marathon, which is not conducive to glamour shots.
Recently, I ran a marathon in the next town over, the Best Damn Race (BDR) in Cape Coral. It was hot. Yes, this is Florida, but it was at least 20 degrees hotter than last year’s race. This was my fourth marathon in five weeks, beginning with the Ft. Myers Marathon (also hot) November 8, on to the Flying Money in Tennessee November 22, and then the Space Coast November 29. So I was a little fatigued.
No surprise, I am not loving my BDR race photos. Since I run a fair number of marathons, I rarely buy race photos. If I only a ran a few, I think I still probably wouldn’t buy race photos, see list of ick factors above.
The BDR ones were free to participants, however, so I have access to them online. And I had no plans to share them. Until I took some time to reflect on what the photos represent and how I feel about them. That prompted me to decide to step up to the plate (or the start line) right here and do the hard thing. I’m going to post one that I find especially unflattering. Let’s just do it now:
See? My eyes are closed, I am so NOT smiling, my tummy is looking like it needs to be reduced and yig! What is going on with my legs?
Time out for True Confession: I had reduced this down significantly but doing so- at least in part- defeats the purpose. That purpose is to try and embrace the above image, and be grateful for it. Believe me, I see all the awfulness of it.
Yet if I make myself take on a different mind frame, I see can see past the imperfections. First and foremost, I am so aware I am blessed to be able to run as many marathons as I do. And that I am not hurt or dealing with a running injury. That’s the body that carried me through 18 marathons this year; I’d best not take it for granted.
Instead of groaning and clicking through the running photos, I forced myself to take some time with them. “This is what running looks like,” I thought. Those are the legs that make the whole endeavor possible. And while no one is going to suggest this photo belongs on a magazine cover, I can honestly see positives that I was blind to before I began my contemplation project.
There is determination and confidence. After starting the year on a bum ankle, now each step is sure and strong. Despite the heat, I learned a few things at the Ft. Myers Marathon and finished the BDR about 50 minutes faster. There is strength and health. There is the knowledge that I will finish the race, even it there is momentary struggle and pain. Most importantly, there is fulfillment in doing what you love, in taking on a challenge, and in the follow-through of each step…each step which brings you closer to the finish line.