A running story submitted by Novia
I’m a girlie girl.I love sparkly things, jewelry, accessorizing, makeup, getting my nails done, being pampered, dressing up and feeling pretty. Hands down, my favorite store is Ulta, if I had the resources, I’d own two of everything in there.However, the times that I feel most beautiful are not captured in those freshly-bathed, neatly quaffed, appropriately accessorized moments.On my father’s desk rests a picture of me; dirty ball cap pulled down over my forehead, a full pack strapped on my back and reinforced across my chest, t-shirt sleeves rolled up, a mountain stream flowing in the background, my face betrays my fatigue, but my eyes tell the story of a survivor.The picture was taken four days after I had been hiked off a mountain and airlifted to Gunnison, Colorado because of my body’s inability to fight off the abrupt onset of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. After my respiratory system had been stabilized, fully oxygenated, and I’d been poked, prodded, drugged and deemed fit to be released, I defied doctor’s orders, strapped on my pack bogged down with 60 pounds of gear and hiked back in to rejoin my group on the mountain that had done its best to devour me four days earlier.I look at that picture, no makeup, no sparkly things, sweat circles under my arms, hat not matching anything I have on, and I see beauty.Last week, after an intense hill workout on the bike, my legs weary from two hours of constant cardio and weight pounding, I hobbled on quivering legs back to the locker room to shower, change into dry clothes and head home. As I shuffled the path to the locker room, a guy stopped me and asked if I was alright (due to my irregular gait) and if I needed any help, I just smiled and said, “nope, today was my ‘make ya lame’ workout,” he smiled and replied, “oh, I did that yesterday.”
Sweat rinsed off by a quick shower, wet clothes swapped out for dry ones, I Quasimoded my way to my car. The only remaining evidence of my workout, the mismatched t-shirt and shorts I wore and my extremely disheveled hair plastered to my forehead in some places, standing askew atop my head in others. A former boyfriend often got on my case because I refused to comb/brush my hair after my workout, but I always poo-pooed his comments, telling him that I worked hard for the “post-work-out-hairdo,” and I considered it my ‘medal’ that tells the world, “hey, I overcame ‘me’ today.”
What he didn’t know was that the true reason for not taming my post-workout hair is a bit more complex than the bogus one I fed him.
As I will my legs to move my calves, to move my feet one step, two step, three steps ever closer to my favorite time of the day (the time when my workout is finally over), removing my headphones from my head and my iPod strapped to my back, that is the one time that I feel most beautiful.
Take a picture of me at-my-best and take a picture of me post-workout and ask me to choose one. I’ll pick the “post-workout picture” over the “at-my-best picture” every time.
“Me at-my-best,” I’ve spent lots of time grooming and adorning the surface, my outside, to be oooed and awwwed at by all that I meet. “Me post-workout,” I’ve spent time in the trenches, battling my insides, battling my mind, battling my heart, battling unseen aches, soreness, pains. I’ve spent time fighting with myself, dragging me beyond what yesterday I had written off as impossible.
In short, me post work-out, I’m a survivor.As runners……scratch that……as athletes, everyday we finish a run, a swim, a ride, a skate, a lift, a workout, we’re survivors. We’ve conquered what we didn’t think possible, what we might not have wanted to do, what non-athletes deem impervious, what we once in our lives thought beyond our grasp.Survivors.
Cuts, scrapes, bruises, torn ligaments, broken bones, lost toenails, chafed legs, sunburn, chafed pits, suntan in the shape of your running sunglasses, knee surgery scars, stained socks from trail running, blisters, even high altitude pulmonary edema, as athletes, these are the artistry that accessorize the grace and beauty of our daily courage.
At the end of your next workout, stand in front of the mirror and soak-in the beauty whose currency exchange is sweat, blood, tears, pain, sacrifice and whose name can only be claimed by those (such as yourself) who’ve endured.