Running (after my sis)


Sarah and Stella

Years ago when my younger sis (by 10 years) was in high school and deeply involved in sitting at the coffee shop with her friends philosophizing about life as she knew it at age 16, I was the workout monster in the family.  I ran, lifted weights, biked, taught aerobics.  And no one could beat me in a run.  My sis, Sarah, was known for her writing and her love of books.  One of her favorite activities was sitting in the bathtub with her favorite book and reading for two hours.  My brother loved his music, and should adore my parents for letting him spend countless hours in the basement jammin’ away on his drums and sax.  When we went on family hikes, I was the one with ten rocks in my pockets to give me an extra struggle as I climbed up a hill.

Meg and I braving the steps when we visited for Sarah's wedding

Then my sis grew up.  And as she aged, she found a love for running.  Afterall, she has the perfect runner shape – 100 pounds when wet and just tiny!  Her running has been a constant for her as she traveled to different countries and engaged with new people and new work.  I will never forget going to Oaxaca, Mexico to visit her.  She had told me about a course that she ran almost daily with her dog, Stella.  I couldn’t wait to check it out when I arrived.  The first morning after I landed, we awoke to a gorgeous 65 degree day.  She asked if I was ready to go.  ‘Of course”, I thought. 

We walked to the steps that we had to climb to get to the path that led to the trail.  I had heard rumors about these steps from Meg and my dad who had visited Sarah earlier in the year.  “Horrid” and “killer” were adjectives I remember hearing upon their return.  We ran up all of them (at least 150) to a plateau that overlooked some of Oaxaca.  “Ok”, I thought, “I can hang although my heart was beating quite fast.  We continued up a brick path to the trail.  One long hill.  When we got to the trail, I was again winded but continued to smile and assure Sarah I was ok.  Then, the trail.  Heaven help me.  Every time you thought you had reached the top, you found out it was just a short plateau with more hill up ahead.  I was sweating through every pore of my body, and my legs burned like they had been thrown in a fire pit.   

I thought “I have met my match.”

When Sar and I returned home, I laid on the bed massaging my legs and getting my breathing back to normal.  It was at that moment that I knew my reign as workout monster of the Menkedick family was, if not over, at least shared with my sis. 

Sar and I on a bus trip in Oaxaca

So, it is that realization and determination to keep up with her that led me to agree to run the Columbus Marathon with her in October.  She is already cranking out 10-15 miles with no problem.  I have been trying to run more on the mornings that Jon is home and I am able to get out.  I used to run 3-5 miles and then spend a decent amount of time lifting at the gym.  Now, I am running 6-10 and doing less lifting.  I went out this morning and took the bike course downtown and back for ten miles.  In the beginning of the run, you always feel so strong and so free – zoning out to NPR and thinking about events from the past week, what you have going on in the future (a side note – for a mom of two, this freedom and time away is crucial).  By the middle of the run, when you are farthest away from the house, you start to wonder why you went so far and your legs start to wonder with you.  By the end of the run, you just keep repeating “You can do it. You can do it. Don’ think about it anymore, just keep going.”  Then you finish.  And you have that gratification down in the deepest part of your soul that you completed what you set out to complete.  Your body feels wasted and tired but also surprisingly refreshed – you worked all of those toxins out and as spent as you are, you are also so alive.

Nonetheless, as much as I appreciate the thrill of a good, long run, that good, long run has consisted of 10 miles – not 26.  I am not so headstrong to go the 26 in October if I am hurting (my IT band has not been cooperating with me lately).  Of course, I am fully aware that because I am a Menkedick, I can talk the talk now but come race day, I will need to be completely unable to stand on my legs before I will give up. 

I will just have to depend on that little sis of mine to take care of me.

One thought on “Running (after my sis)

  1. Sarah says:

    You got it, lady! I will force you to run at a tedious glacial pace and feed you endless shots of creepy powergel goo! You will be fine!

    And I am not sure that I am beating you at all – you are probably cranking out 6-minute miles on your 10-mile run, whereas Stella and I are breezing along at a snail’s pace zoning out to This American Life. Podcasts, baby, podcasts.

    Once you get into the groove of it, you will discover the zen of the long run – or at least the zen of having completed it despite the last several miles of brutal self-doubt. Think of it as meditation – it’s about the journey, not the goal (ha, says the girl who was fantasizing about a cold microwbrew and lasagne bolognese for miles 9-12).

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