Boxing Day Fartlek

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I’m a different girl when I run with my older sister rather than running alone. Alone, on my beloved trail beneath the trees, I find a pace that might allow me to kick a waddling duck’s ass. Moving forward with the very slightest knee lifts is enough for me to dub myself a true and sincere runner. I have turquoise, striped running pants. I have a new leopard print cellphone wallet that slides onto my wrist (a gift from my sister), and I have my first 5K next Saturday. My sister has a cardio and weightlifting regime that she sticks to, even some years ago while on chemo-therapy. Running with my sister is a rare treat, but something new was born of it this time: Comparison.

I recalled our lunch an hour before. I’d eaten a pound of snow crab legs. She had soup and a shrimp salad sandwich. We each had beers. I came home and had two slices of the red-velvet cake she made with the cream filling. Running was going to be fine though. Then we started.

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My sister’s pace was immediately faster than mine. I felt shame that I hadn’t made myself run more for the past month or two. I felt shame when my breaths morphed into puffs. I felt apologetic. She’d told me to keep going while she stopped to tie her shoelace – twice. Now she was speed walking next to me.

Hadn’t I dealt with my ego when it came to running? Of course I had. Loads of people passed me on the trail, and I never gave them a second thought. I blessed their speed and took encouragement from it. Today, I had asked to walk for a stretch. I was not keeping up, and my sister’s words would make the back of my hands drag on the path like an orangutan.

“Your 5K is next weekend,” she asked. There was no smug tone attached. There was no judgement. There was no nothing, and so why did my ego flare? To make me aware. Don’t let your ego take a fun time away from you. Don’t let it tear you down or create that tightness in your heart. So what, if you have to walk for a while rather than run. You can catch your breath, like I did, and then run to that huge tree down yonder. When you do, I hope you’re lucky enough to hear what I did from my sister.

“You just ran a fartlek.”IMG_2368

According to Wikipedia, a Swedish coach named Gosta Holmer came out with the first fartlek in1937. It is setting a goal, dashing to it, and then covering the next distance with less speed. I giggled. Fartlek. My sister said it with pride, and in that second I was proud too. We giggled and chose target after target. Goal after goal was met. It was a spotlight on how my ego was still alive and kicking. That was okay. Knowing it is what keeps it from kicking my ass.

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