A while back we discovered a fun event: the Park Run.
So every Saturday morning (or most Saturday mornings) we start our weekend in earnest running (or in my case walking) for five kilometers.
From what I understand, there are Park Runs all over the world so you can take part where ever you happen to be.
It is free.
It is fun.
It is beautiful.
Jan is a lot more physical than I am. He loves cycling and has run many marathons. He was a diver and is a biker.
He and his body know one another really well.
He knows quite a few neat tricks about conserving energy, using gravity on the downhills and taking the shortest route.
So I am learning.
At the start of the Hermanus Park Run at the Overstrand Training Institute, there are two wooden sculptures of a hare and a tortoise.
Without a doubt the tortoise is my totem animal!
It happens to be a symbol of a writer for me too.
But that is another story.
One of my most precious realizations came as we entered the forest after passing through Camphill during our first run.
I quite literally felt the difference in energy as I entered the trees. I remembered how I felt as a child in Germany in the beautiful rich forest outside Göttingen.
Reaching the forest , it felt as if I could breathe more easily and I began to long for the forest stretch on subsequent runs.
Imagine my delight when a little girl actually verbalized my love of the forest in a clear and ringing voice during our third of fourth outing.
“I love the forest, Mommy!” she declared.
Wings to my heart and feet, Little One!
Then there was the whole question of competition .
I don’t like the concept.
Park Runs are cool that way.
You can if you want to and you don’t have to, if like me, you would prefer not to.
You get your results after each run and these reflect where you are at in the field and all that jazz, but most importantly, you get a PB (Personal Best) time.
So you are running your own race.
I have found that there are people who run at more a less the same pace as me and I do overtake them if I can in an effort to run a good time, but I prefer to think of it as benchmarking rather than the dreaded “c” word.
I made one exception last Saturday that I do need to share.
There were three individuals of the male persuasion last week – two adults and a young boy who made me compete.
They walked broadly and in spite of the fact that I was very focussed on my own “race” I began to sense energetically that these boys were blocking people on purpose. Jan confirmed this for me afterwards.
So I overtook them a couple of times and then they made a point of passing me again and so it went on.
Towards the end of the run I found myself behind them and was very aware of the sense I had that they didn’t like the idea of a woman (much less a sixty year old!) passing them.
For a moment I thought of letting it be.
Then I felt my outrage at all things patriarchal triumphantly propel me past them.
Vat so, manne!
Insights come and go as I experiment with focus and flow, striving and relaxing, lightness and heaviness, running and walking.
During one of the runs, a young father passes us. He has an infant strapped to his chest in one of those nifty kangaroo pouches.
I am so happy, because I find I am no longer sad when I see this father and child.
I am simply delighted for this little one, growing up connected and nurtured – close to their parent’s heart .
I hear parents and grandparents explaining the walk and life in general to their children as we pass each other.
Friends share intimate confidences and snippets float on by.
I am in my body.
I am connected to all who share this run with me.
I walk my own race.
Life is a Park Run.