The Purpose of the "50-Mile Dolphin Dash"

Welcome to my blog leading up to the American Cetacean Society's 2nd Annual "50-Mile Dolphin Dash" fundraiser run on Wednesday, July 6th, Monterey, CA. I'm willing to shed 50 miles worth of blood, sweat, and (possibly) tears to raise funds to attend the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in St. Helier, Jersey (UK), where ACS will be speaking out against commercial whaling and compromises to international whale protection measures. I'm also the Executive Director of ACS, so I put my heart and "sole" where my mouth is.

Support the Dolphin Dash with a tax-deductible contribution:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Running is a Mistress

Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one.
Duke Ellington

My friend Todd once described running as his “mistress” – something that started out innocently enough – without commitment or emotional attachment – and eventually blossomed into an all-consuming passion of the mind, body, and soul. I commented that I thought his metaphor was an intriguing one, but as it turns out he wasn’t being clever. For two years, Todd ran twice daily for hours on end and spent entire weekends traveling to-and-from races; eventually his wife issued an ultimatum. His presence at the starting line on a gorgeous Saturday and bare left hand indicated that he now had a lot more time for such dalliances.

That was many years ago, and I’ve since explored that poignant theme hundreds of times as my own relationship with running has evolved. I’ve found the analogy no less applicable to my own life, albeit for different reasons.

I am his mistress.
His work is his wife.
Marion Javits

In my case, the metaphorical wife is my work – comfortable, familiar, frequently stressful but firmly entrenched within my comfort zone, and so integrated into the fabric of my daily routine that it’s no longer a conscious part of my thought process. Colleagues and partners no longer feel the need to “make themselves up" for me – what you see is what you get. The wife can be complicated and infuriating, and in those times, I may complain about her and her endless challenges, but I may resent it if you do the same. And in the interest of keeping up appearances, I will cheerlead and proclaim that I have the most wonderful spouse ever – much like a Christmas photo card depicting a perfect moment in an otherwise dysfunctional family. Despite the ups-and-downs, I’m generally content. For all of her quirkiness and occasional emotionally-draining meltdowns, I love her in my own way, and I did commit to her.

Ah, but the mistress... this is another animal altogether. At times, "The Other Woman" in my life – the runner – has utterly consumed me; she’s what I dream of and long for when I’m suffering through meetings and grant-writing sessions; the one I miss when I’m with my spouse; the one I make first priority and to whom I feel a profound and deep sense of connection and passion. The Other Woman is a fantasy, I realize – a manifestation of possibility, of excitement, something unattainable even– a departure from the mundane. She never nags, is always happy to see me, never complains about my shortcomings, and gets the best of me. I am an eager guest in her home, and when I leave I know she simultaneously mourns my departure and is grateful for her solitude. In my mind, she’s perfection in motion.

In 2006, I was given the opportunity to “upgrade” the mistress to the wife position after a second-place finish in the Croom’s 50K Trail Run in Bradenton, FL. I struggled with the decision. No one talks about what it means to bring The Other Woman into the fold of domesticity, revealed – to overcome the odds stacked up against her in her former position – what happens to the fantasyDo you begin to resent her reality and ordinariness? And what happens to you – your dreams, your passions, the sense of breathlessness and anticipation of being with her when you invite the fire to become the familiar – when you possess what was once forbidden and concealed?   

All questions unknowable to me. In the end, I declined the offer to make my passion my vocation. I didn’t want it to become routine – I didn’t want to resent my time with her because I felt I had to be there... I wanted the desire to be there.  Even when, or perhaps especially because, I couldn't. 

The Other Woman knows the most important rule - know your place. She is aware that our relationship can end at any moment, at any time, without further notice, - kinda like cell phone coverage. I was warned about my beloved mistress –that I’d pay a price for loving her the way I do – that she’d grind my hips to dust, pulverize my ligaments, and chew up my knees. At times, she can be a hard-driving, powerful, demanding bitch, and I pay her the respect she deserves - she's hard to love.  But when I'm with her and she faces me squarely and turns her attention to me, it’s sublime... and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to keep her.

Much can be inferred about a man from his mistress: in her
one beholds his weaknesses and his dreams.
George C. Litchtenberg


No comments:

Post a Comment