IndigenousWell™

13.1 miles. A half marathon. Walk it. Run it. A mix of both. Either way you slice it, it will probably leave a modest mark of some kind on your skin. Somewhere. You might not know it until you get in the shower, but it’s there.

Today’s marks were two-fold for me. The beginning of a few blisters on my second toes (always weird unpredictable places) and, my right hip. After the race began, I stuck my N95 mask down my running tights, because, honestly, what do you do with that thing after the race begins and the social distancing starts? There’s no mask pocket, and that became very apparent to me during mile 4. Dang coarse mask rubbed my hip raw. So, I tied it to the back of my visor like a 1980s rat tail. Problem solved. But I thought in that moment about all my physician and nurse friends with that same rash on their faces from hours on end of taking care of people, and it made me feel small for cursing to myself about it.

Originally, there were 9 of us – Indigenous women that had a best laid plan to do this race together. Life and kids and work and political campaigns and grief and love and damned COVID intervened (again). And then there were 3 of us. We will see the others later. They are us. We are them.

My take-aways from today are many. 49 is different from 45 is different than 39. It gets harder unless you are way better trained than you ever have been before. I was not. This was a good lesson for me. No matter how much of athlete you still are in your head, it’s going to hurt a little bit more. Reminds me of a Toby Keith song that I don’t love, but it has one great line: “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once, as I ever was.”

My “once” today was two miles. Mile 5 to Mile 7. It felt really good. Ironed our some things that were slowing me down, and then hit a nice flat part of the course with lots of stuff to look at in town. It wasn’t the fabled “runner’s high” but I was in a nice groove. And then there was “the hill.”

It was an Eastern Cherokee hill, not an Oklahoma Cherokee hill. That was it. When I got to the bottom of that hill, I never fully recovered. Painful from there on out. Walked most of the last 3 miles before I pulled my “Billy Mills” at the end. Unfortunately that part was captured on video by a “friend” and it was, in fact, a chubby middle-aged woman Billy Mills, limping along at about 2 miles an hour. Hilarious.

After that hill, my left hamstring was strung. My hot spots were, hot. Even Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock from my epic Gen-X running playlist couldn’t ease my pain.

But then there was the finish line. And food and water and more music. And friends. And joy. And my honey. He placed third in his age group, proving once again that age is just a number. He says people stop showing up the older you get, but that’s still a big win.

It was a good post-ish pandemic event. I feel blessed to be here after the last 18 months. Surrounded by good people. And as Julie Reed reminded me, “I haven’t felt this accomplished by 10:30 am in a long damn time.”

Pictured above, my friends and accomplished Indigenous women: Carly Hotvedt (Cherokee Nation), Julie Reed (Cherokee Nation). And that dang N 95 rash-making mask on yours truly. We are pictured at the start of the race, Cherokee Fairground, 7:28 am, September 18, 2021. Shoutout to Carly for absolutely killin’ it on her 1st half marathon. Just aweseome.

 

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