Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Running to the finish line
February is a month of contradiction for me. While I have a deep, almost unhealthy distaste for wet and cold weather, it is also the month of my birth. It has taken decades for me to understand the gift of having my birthday smack dab in the middle of this wintery month.
I realize now that it is what saves me from falling into hopeless, dark despair. I know it sounds dramatic, even melodramatic, or maybe just narcissistic, but it is the joy of celebrating and being celebrated that gets me through the last leg of winter.
Thankfully, it is already the shortest month of the year, but foul weather and dark days drag on. Otherwise I would likely be completely miserable if not for the love of friends and family who keep me distracted with lunches and parties and other fun indoor activities, all in the name of a birthday.
I know I am not alone in my disdain for winter, and I feel for those who cannot count on a birthday to distract them.
Many people choose February as the best time to travel. In a recent post on social media, I mentioned a need for a sunny day and received several comments from friends who are spending the winter basking in the heat of more tropical environments.
I have heard of those who say they love winter. They talk about spending rainy days in front of a warm fire reading or catching up on movies. The wide world of sports keeps taverns full of patrons passing time.
I am aware that some people find other things to do to get through this dark and dreary season; ski resorts are full of snow lovers of various skill levels who don multiple layers of fabrics, coats, boots, goggles, gloves, boards and skis to make the best of the season. I understand many actually enjoy it and look forward to it. They pray for snow.
These same people will move from the slopes to the shores trading snow shoes for wake boards, actively moving from sport to sport as the seasons dictate.
I am not that kind of girl. I sleep in and layer up, drink hot tea and huddle near the fire as I wait for spring.
My husband, on the other hand, does not let weather deter him from his sport, ever. He is a runner. He runs when it is hot. He runs when it is cold. He runs when it rains. He runs when it snows. When it snows too hard and deep to run, he drives to lower elevations and runs there. He is disciplined and dedicated.
This weekend he will be taking part in his 87th run of 26.2 miles or more — in other words, a marathon. He has run many of them but has also run 50 miles and 100 miles and parts thereof on more than one occasion. For the first time in a long while, he signed up for a marathon in March.
I admire him. I admit, I don’t completely understand him, but I do admire his devotion. There have been many mornings when he crawls out of bed to get in a run while I roll over to get in a few more minutes of sleep. Nothing gets in the way of training. I believe he is running away from age, but age is trying desperately to catch up. Ice and pain reliever are now part of the daily regimen.
I tend to shake my head and am less than motivating. He has tried to help me understand it. It is not what he does; it is who he is.
So, when he asks me to come along and be his “crew,” I do it. I meet him along the route with a dry shirt or cap, or a cup of coffee or just a hug and a few words of encouragement. I find it to be stressful. He knows where he is, but until recently (before smartphones and global positioning), I would drop him off at the starting line and spend the hours he was running getting lost on my way to the halfway point.
I stand on the side of residential neighborhoods in rain gear of my own, sit on a city sidewalk in a beach chair wrapped in a blanket, stand on the median in the middle of the road waving a sign and wait. I wait for the moment I spot him among all the other runners, to give him a boost of encouragement as he makes his way to the finish line. It feels like the least I can do.
The weekend weather report predicts a miserable morning to run 26.2 miles, but he will join hundreds of other runners and just do it. I will drop him off, find him again about halfway through, and cheer him on at the finish.
No longer my birthday month, but one step closer to spring.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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