Monday, May 3, 2010

Beer. Run. Home.

My friend Julie and I have been close since the third grade, so there isn’t much we don’t know about each other. This week, Julie came to Portland to play. Her visit was two-fold: to try out as many different beers from the Northwest as possible and to run the Eugene Marathon with me.

Within an hour of her arrival we were busy completing Julie’s first goal. The two of us were in full-fledged beer connoisseur mode, trying out everything from Pale Ales to IPA’s to Hefeweizen to Porters. And the more my childhood friend drank, the more she wanted a picture to document her taste-test. With each beer downed, she sent a snapshot to her friends with the simple message: Drinking of you. Wish you were beer.   

Even before I moved to Portland, Julie and I decided to run a race together in the Northwest. We hadn’t seen each other in years and thought it would be fun. During race time Julie goes by the moniker Rocket. She thinks it makes her go faster when she hears her nickname shouted out by strangers along the sidelines of the race.  

The Eugene marathon is Rocket’s 24th. The half marathon is my first.  

As race day drew near I wasn’t nervous. Instead, I began to wonder why I was paying $75 to run 13.1-miles when it wasn’t even for a good cause. It didn’t help that the aches and pains I’d inherited from nearly four months of training served only to reinforce my second thoughts.

What I didn’t realize was how running that race would dredge up the focus and determination that had gone MIA in me during the last few months. Mile by mile I was slowly seeing the fog fade away. Of course, it helped to have people cheering me on most of the way, and it was also amazing to be running in a beautiful place like Eugene, Oregon, which was where I originally planned to move.

Setting my foot over the finish line of my first half-marathon reminded me that, inside, I’m a determined woman and nothing – not a career change or personal upheaval – changes what is fundamentally Lila. 

After the race, I hobbled around the finish line wolfing down sandwiches, pancakes and mini-bags of Cheetos, Doritos, Lay’s potato chips - food I rarely eat - while I waited for Rocket to finish her 26.2 miles. Finally, like a champion, Rocket came through the finish line. Later, she looked at me and said “You never would have done this half-marathon if you didn’t move to Portland”. Rocket was right.  

Somewhere around mile 9 I realized that my home is not in a particular city or in a particular job. My home is in me. I realized that there’s nothing stopping me from picking up again and moving somewhere else if my heart tells me to start packing. I love living in Portland, but coming to this truth was worth every penny of the $75 dollars it cost me to do this race.  

Portland was and is the beginning of all the change I’ve been looking for, and while it has had incredible highs and lows, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Besides, as Rocket says, “It has phenomenal beer.”  

((please click play button to watch video))

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