Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A little more thinkin'.

So I'm doing what TriEric said, and thinking of all the reasons why I got into this stuff and what I'll do afterwards--like go to the Chicago Marathon to see my buddy Jacks do her first marathon--and quite a few bloggers up there, too! I found this little rumination from back in January.

It was just before the entry where I couldn't figure out why I felt so rotten, so I did a few more runs and swims thinking it would make me feel better and then basically collapsed with bronchial pneumonia for 2 weeks.

Now that I read those entries, they are kind of funny. I just wanna slap myself and say, "STOP WORKING OUT, YOU NUTCASE! YOU HAVE PNEUMONIA!!!"

Ahhhh, good times.

Anyway, I thought I'd repost this one. I don't know why it hit me today, but I just got a lot done in my classroom and am ready to read a nice Triathlete magazine and book outside, as it's gorgeous and not a cloud is in the sky.

Sometime's it's good to be reminded why we do these things. Here is such a reminder, from January 13, 2006.


Okay, one of my first posts ever was a little rant called, "Why am I doing this, anyway?" in which I pretty much walked through my past to see what it is in me that makes me want to conquer IM MOO. Well, this has been a challenging 2006 so far and my training has really been my grounding force. I actually started writing this around Christmastime, when I was so moved and upset after seeing a news story. I thought maybe I'd try to explain why I was doing this to someone in the future. As my writing developed, that someone became the daughter I might have someday. OK--Big IF, I know...but for some reason it just fit. I'll have to do a son version, too, just in case. And if all else fails, my little niece is already here and can read it eventually.

So this is long. Really long. I added links in the letter for this blog only. The real deal is printed out and now in an envelope in my dresser drawer. For some strange reason, writing this made me feel like I was understanding myself and my desire to do this thing even more.

Wil got me so pumped up last night with her post that I thought I'd share this one.

Here goes.

To the daughter I might have someday…

I know you’ll never know me when I was 28. I often wondered if I could have talked to my mother at my age (or at least had a rational conversation with her, since she had me at 26), what would it be like? Would I see a lot of myself in her? I think the answer is yes for me. I don’t know what it is for you, but for now I’ve pretended that you were 28 and I’ve told you what’s on my mind now. Right this second. Here goes.

I’m currently embarking on a long journey to see what I’m made of. This thing called Ironman has sort of dominated my life since I began to contemplate it last year. I decided, at the urging of a few buddies and at the gnawing of a little voice inside of me that just wouldn't shut up, to throw my hat into the ring last September 12. I remember sitting in my classroom, staring at the computer screen. Reading the long waiver. “Blah blah blah....possible refunds...Are you SURE you know what you are getting into?” the waiver read. I thought long and hard.

Are we ever really SURE what we are getting into in life?

I don’t think so. But I knew in my heart that I could do this.

So I pointed and clicked—and it was done. The single scariest mouse-click I’d ever made in my entire life. My hands were shaking. I had a huge goofy grin on my face. I ran to my friend’s room next door to tell her the news….

“I’m in!!!”

Since then, lots of my friends and family members have asked me, “WHY?” They can’t imagine why anyone would ever put their body, their mind, their personal life, or their sleep schedule through the grueling training that is necessary to complete an Ironman. I’ve found myself asking that often, too.
Why did I do this?

I think the answer is actually partly answered by you.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the stories of my Ironman I did this year, and how much love, patience, and support your father provided me to help me accomplish my goal. I’d like to think that as you grow up, you’d see me continue to set my goals high, whether it be with racing, career, or life. High enough so that they are almost out of reach. High enough that I have to stand on my tiptoes to even touch them. I’d like to think that it shapes who you are and your image of what you can be, as it was inspiring for me to see my mother, a self-proclaimed “non-athlete” take up running 5Ks at age 53. She’s amazing for it, and it’s really helped me understand where I get my drive and persistence.

You’re probably also used to my little history lessons and political rants at the breakfast table or in the car. I probably argue with the TV and constantly throw my opinion in there…especially when the topic is one of two things: foreign affairs and education. I probably am saying that I could do it better—half joking, and half serious. You probably roll your eyes every time I relate something in the news to something or someone from the past. But that’s who I am, too. I definitely got that from my mother! I can’t wait to see what your passions are and to support you in whatever you choose to do with your life. I went into teaching to show my students that individual people have the power to change the world and write history, and I want you to experience that power, too.

I read this news story on Christmas Day (of all things), about an “honor killing” in Pakistan. This was 2005. This happened TODAY. Aside from this little blip on my computer screen, I didn’t hear anything else about it. No one at school was outraged when I got back in January. No one on the news mentioned more than this.

Another story told of a beheading of a teacher in Afghanistan by Taliban rebels. Can you guess why they invaded his home and beheaded him?

Because he taught both boys and girls in his classroom.

It really got me thinking how lucky I am to live in a country where I do have equal rights, and how enraged I am that it’s 2006 and there are far too many countries where women and girls do not have equal rights. How long will it take? Honestly, it seems like such a clich├ęd question. But I’m serious—will it be gone when you’re 28?

Then I also got to thinking—this country is not immune to discrimination based upon gender. And really, when you think about it, it hasn’t been that long since it’s been legally dismantled. 1920, as far as history is concerned, is (in a historical perspective) about 5 minutes ago. I can tell you, at 28, that even I have experienced gender discrimination. It’s so ingrained in our culture that sometimes I think we don’t even realize it. Good girls don’t say this or that. Good girls don’t have muscles and don’t sweat. Sometimes I think we make excuses for it. I wonder--will this be gone by the time you’re 28?

As a student of history, I have learned about so many great leaders that have tried to rid the world of various kinds of discrimination, and I’ve learned that change can be excruciatingly slow. But, nonetheless, change happens. I think about the opportunities I have to work where I work, live where I live, say what I want, and physically do what I can. I’m so lucky. I’m so blessed to be able to do these things. I have more opportunities than women did even just a generation ago.

But the more I study history and even the more I listen to the news, I realize that my opportunities are not shared globally. In fact, sometimes I feel as if I am in the minority.

To me, that’s why I do these crazy things like run marathons and do an Ironman. It’s the same reason I vote.

Because I can.

Quite simply, that’s reason enough. There doesn’t need to be any other reason besides that. Why can I do this? Why do I do this—put my body and mind through vigorous tests, both physically and emotionally? I owe it to you. I owe it to myself.

I owe it to her

and her.

I owe it to her

and her.

I wouldn’t be able to do it without her

or without her.

For me, I see how hard these women fought and the sacrifices that were made so that I could do this if I wanted to. So that I could play this if I wanted to. So I could run this if I wanted to.

I do it to celebrate choice. Free will. Things women weren’t always able to have: even in this country. Things too many women today do not have.

I want you to see that. I want you to celebrate this too, whatever your choices may be...and wherever your free will takes you. For I truly believe the saying: “Women who are well-behaved rarely make history.”

So I guess that’s why I did it. I hope it makes sense.

And I can’t wait to meet you.


Jodi said...

Awesome, awesome post, Sara. Thanks for bringing it back!

teacherwoman said...

Very nice! Speechless...I guess :)

Eric said...

I know that you are using your extra time to reflect and think about what IM does and will mean to you. Thank you once again for sharing with all of us the thoughts and emotions that you will be carrying with you on race day.

Wes said...

Yea, what you said *sniff*. My ten year old wants to run with me now. Guess I'm gonna have to add another day to my training schedule. You freakin R-O-C-K T.

jkrunning--Just Keep Running said...

What a great post. I love it.

Kim said...

LOVE the repost, thanks for bringing it back! :) im wondering if the "father" you mentioned in the letter is your real hubby, or Eddie? HMMM!???

Kurt said...

Having 2 daughters (and 2 sons also) myself I think when you have one it will really ring home for you. I run so I can set a good example for them.

Awesome post!

greyhound said...

This daughter's father thanks you for some really good perspective.

See you soon.

Lana said...

Awesome post. That future daughter is a lucky little girl.