Friday, August 16, 2013

Pick Yourself Up and Keep Going By Ann Haywood Leal

I knew it wasn't a good sign when it was already hot at seven o'clock in the morning.  The air held a sticky thickness that made you feel as if you might need to clear a path through it to move.

But I wasn't going back home.  I had been training for months for this marathon and the running shoes were staying on.

The heat didn't even seem to be fazing my friend, Kristi.  She had been training all summer at lunch time in the stifling heat of Washington D.C., making Connecticut seem like a walk-in cooler to her.

I'm a slow runner on a good day, but as we trudged through the never-ending miles, I saw strong runners slowing down and dropping out of the race.

If we just take this slow, we'll be fine, I told Kristi.  Sometimes when you say something out loud, it makes it true and real.

We approached 13.1 miles and turned into the entrance for the state park.  It was the halfway point and I was still hanging in there with my steady snail strides.

As we exited the park, I should have followed Kristi's lead and dumped a cool cup of water over my head.  But I didn't want to get wet.  That had to have been one of the first signs that I wasn't thinking clearly, because my clothes were already soaked clear through with sweat.

We trudged up a hill, approaching mile sixteen and passing the women's prison, at which point I should have been appreciating my freedom to run and do as I pleased.  But all I could think about was if there was air conditioning inside.

Halfway up that hill, I knew I had to walk.  I knew that wasn't a good idea when I still had over ten miles to go.  So I picked it up again -- or at least I tried to.  My legs went to rubber and I went down.  That's when my memory gets choppy.  I remember only small bursts of sensory details after that.

The gravelly dirt next to me...

The blue uniform of a police officer...

The wooden bench inside the fire station...

The freezing air conditioning of the ambulance...

The whine of the siren...

The lights on the ceiling of the hospital...

The drip of the I.V. bag ...

You have heat exhaustion, the doctor said.  What were you doing out there? It's over 90 degrees.

Obviously, things turned out okay for me.  As soon as they pumped a couple bags of I.V. fluid into me, I was back to myself.  I lived to blog about it.

I think it's that internal stubbornness that writers have that made me power through the heat.  We work in solitary confinement most days, relying on our own thoughts and self-talk to get us through the tough times in our stories.  Now I try to learn from that time in the dirt by the women's prison.  I try to remember to slow down and dump a cup of cool water over my head--or maybe just sip it ...
... Then pick myself up and keep going...

4 comments:

  1. Nice one Ann! Your next big race will be awesome!

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  2. I SO identify with this post. I've knocked myself out a time or two while writing (metaphorically, of course)...I'm trying to learn about the cool water, too!

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  3. A good reminder for me, too. I tend to rush through my drafts, anxious to finish, when I really need to slow down and dig deeper. Thanks for this.

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