About a month ago, I ran Seattle’s “Tenacious Ten.” I’m writing about it now, because when I ran it I was a little preoccupied with other things (see my previous post “Movin’ and Shakin’” for more details) and writing wasn’t really a priority. But I feel like it was an experience worth sharing, so better late than never right?
This year Oiselle, a Seattle-based women’s athletic apparel company, organized the Tenacious Ten, a 10k or 10 mile run, around Gasworks Park and Lake Union. Simply put, it was everything I needed.
The week before the race, I was offered a new job in Portland and in the hectic transition, I completely forgot that I had signed up for the race months before. My race week schedule looked a little like this *feel free to input screams wherever you see fit*: I asked my manager to schedule me as close to 40 hours in three days as she could get so I could get to Portland and view apartments on Thursday and potentially Friday. I caught a break, as the weather wasn’t great those days so thankfully the shop was pretty quiet. The apartments offices didn’t open until I was already at work and closed before I got off, so this added a nice little layer of difficulty. I’d wake up early before work and make lists of places to call when they opened, and in the quiet moments at work I’d cross my fingers that no one would walk in while I called building managers to set up viewings.
I greeted Thursday with a 5:30 wake up call to be out the door by 6. From 10-4 my parents and I went to place after place and while I naively thought everything would work out so smoothly we could just drive back Thursday night, (so I could pick up my race packet in Seattle on Friday) my parents knew better. They had the decency to tell me to slow down for five seconds and that if we left Friday morning I’d make it just fine.
While all this was happening, my friend Lauren, (whom you may recognize from my previous “PBR” post) lives in Seattle and offered to let me stay at her place so I wouldn’t have to take the ferry and Uber over to Gasworks Park at the crack of dawn. After signing paperwork for my new place on Friday morning, I planned on stopping by home just long enough to grab my stuff, hightail it to the ferry, Uber up to the hotel where packet pickup was before it ended and get back to Laurens. This might have worked if traffic had been on our side…. But everyone knows that the moment you need to be somewhere, there’s an accident. Or construction. Or everyone and their mother decides to hit the road.
So with time no longer on our side, Lauren offered to go to the hotel and pick up my packet for me after she got off work. This girl is an absolute saint. So instead of going to the hotel I planned to grab my stuff, hop on the ferry (praying I’d remembered my shoes), catch the light rail to Capitol Hill and meet Lauren and some of her college friends for dinner, get back to her place at a hopefully decent time to be out the door by 7:15 the next morning. Raise your hand, if at this point you think I’m crazy for not swallowing the race fee and taking a nap instead.
By this point I hadn’t run for a week (maybe more?), hadn’t slept well, and didn’t even try to eat well. When I signed up I remember being a little bummed I missed out on the 10 mile distance and would be running the 10k instead. However this turned out to be a blessing because once I got to mile 5, I cannot express how happy I was that I only had a mile left instead of another 5. As I sat on the ferry the night before the race, I knew that the only thing pushing me across that finish line would be the excitement of the upcoming changes in my life, and any extra fuel in my tank would come from all the stress of the previous week.
Oiselle did a great job. The race was well organized, there was a great turnout, and they had plenty of fun booths to check out pre and post race. The course was easy to navigate and led us through the city, over bridges, and by the lake, and the start and finish in Gasworks Park was perfect. There was a great sense of comradery between the other runners as well as the volunteers hosting and cheering along the way. The morning was beautiful- the rain held off and it was even warmish, which is the best you can ask of Seattle spring.
This was one of the most stressful weeks of my life but by the time I stepped across the starting line, I felt so at peace that the race went from just another thing to cross off my list, to something of a life changing experience. I felt like I was able to leave so much behind me in those 6 miles. A year of rejections from various prospective jobs, the feeling of remaining stuck while everyone around me seemed to be moving forward, tears and breakdowns, knowing my only non-work friends in town were my parents and my dog, and fed up with the monotony my life had seemed to take, this race was the end of it all. Exhausted and overwhelmed I was able to plug into putting one foot in front of the other, and leave everything on the course.
It was a nice goodbye to a city that I never lived in but had grown to see as the only option for getting out of my small town. I felt a strange bitter sweetness running around the water and knowing that wasn’t the skyline I’d be waking up to every day. While I love so many things about Seattle I’ve never really felt compelled to call it home in the way so many of my peers have. While I ran around the lake it was comforting to know it’d be there, but in the capacity it had always been: a great place to visit friends and go to football games, see concerts or run a race, but not to stay. If I hadn’t been so set on lacing up my shoes that morning I never would have realized that, and I don’t think I would have gotten that closure.
I hope that everyone can find something that brings them peace like that. It doesn’t need to be running. You just need to find something. Something you can do almost anywhere and that you don’t need someone else- especially a specific someone else- to make it happen. I’m not saying it has to be a completely solitary activity, people surround you while running a race and it’s always fun to find a running buddy, but for it to really heal, it can’t be something that depends on someone else making it happen for you. You need something where you can take a second to get out of your own head before you dive back in.
The Tenacious Ten was the perfect end to my week of ups and downs. Crossing the finish line gave me a sense of finality to that chapter of my life, and I couldn’t have asked for a better source of relief.