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Stepping Up

November 2, 2010
by

Surprisingly, the Deepwater Horizon fire fuels my runs these days.

I heard a story last week on the radio about the cement used in the BP oil spill. Apparently, Halliburton–and BP–knew it was flawed, but used it anyway: a decision which may have contributed to the blowout. Given how our world seems to function currently–corruption and cash reign–I shouldn’t be surprised, but the story made me sick to my stomach. Using potentially unstable cement below a platform on which workers will be living and working? Really? What kind of person makes a decision like that?

Eleven men died and future pelican babies may have two beaks, but that will hardly register as the situation proceeds. Call me jaded, but let me venture a guess how things will go: nobody will step up and take the blame. Instead of Halliburton saying, we really screwed up and we’re incredibly sorry, what will follow will be more hearings, more investigations, more releases in ridiculous language denying responsibility, more excessive spending of man power and millions to finally determine who is at fault. (Full, possibly ignorant admission: to me, Halliburton = Cheney = evil.)

On Election Day, a day where I should feel empowered and patriotic, I feel kind of –eh-. I know there are snippets of good everywhere, but it’s hard to see the light when stories like that are sandwiched between inane political attack ads that make me want to vote for the candidate that comes closest to Snoopy: wah, wah, wah wah wah. Nothing offensive in his speeches–and I’d bet The Red Baron is about as effective as most politicians.

I’ll step off my soap box now–and apologize to any staunch Cheney fans out there–but suffice to say, as a mom who doesn’t have enough hours in the day as it is, my mood is a bit hopeless and helpless. How could it not be when I can barely keep things together around our house? The amount of dog hair floating around our floors is out of control. I hope to get to the grocery store before we have only tortillas and cream cheese left. I’d like to get my files from 2000 cleaned out before 2011 hits. Just thinking about bigger issues and problems beyond my basic to-do list makes me feel as tiny and influential as the furballs floating under our bed.

Until I run.

When I run, I am accountable. When I run, I pick a route, I trace it with my feet, I get it done one way or another.

When I went out for my (tenth?) maiden voyage on Friday, I was feeling as ambivalent toward running as I do toward politics. I have so much form and focus work to do so that I can run, say, 5 miles pain-free, I was wondering do I really need this? Towards the end of my run, I still didn’t have a solid answer. Then I crested a hill that often stops me. As I started walking at the summit, I honestly felt a jolt through my body and I had my answer. I felt so freakin’ powerful.

Every step: forward. Every step: progress. Every step: closer to my goal. Every step: pure. Every step: stepping up.

And I knew I had to fire it up again. The usual reasons–wanting to fit in with the awesome RLAM tribe, fighting the blues, fitting into my jeans, defusing my energy so that my offspring don’t take the brunt of my frustrations–certainly contribute to my motivation. But these days, when I feel like it’s going to be an impossible task to leave this world in better shape than when I got here, I have to run for one simple reason: to lead by example.

45 Comments leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    November 2, 2010 4:14 am

    Thank you, thank you for this post. I really needed it today. For the past several weeks I’ve felt so often overwhelmed and inconsequential and inadequate in many ways- in mothering my 3 kids (5, 2 and 6 months), in work, in relationships, etc., etc.. And then this week with election unrest and uncertainty where I live (in East Africa), it’s contributed to an overall feeling of exactly what you described in your post. I had even been questioning my plan to run in a marathon in Feb that I’ve been looking forward to training for since being pregnant with my daughter just because of feeling blah about things and not feeling the same excitement. But, over these past weeks, when I have gone for a run I’ve felt just the way you described at the end of the post- accountability, progress, power, and just plain fun. So thanks and keep firing it up! ( :

  2. November 2, 2010 5:29 am

    Love this and you are so right. Running is ‘powerful’ for me as well….and you’ll always fit in with the RLAM tribe so don’t give that another thought!

  3. Erin permalink
    November 2, 2010 5:30 am

    This post also hit a chord with me. My life is more stressful than it has ever been, and I’m getting tired of just being mediocre at everything. I have 3 kids (4, 2, 15 months) and am 6 months pregnant. I’m a high school teacher with a 50 mile commute and four different classes to prep for, and I’m currently taking two master’s classes. I had to take the day off work today so I could catch up on the ever increasing stack of papers that need to be graded. I’m barely keeping my head above water, so running just isn’t a priority for me. Even though my husband said to me last weekend “but isn’t running what makes you feel less stressed?” Hmmm… So I got on the treadmill at the gym yesterday and ran 4.5 slow miles. What do you know, I felt much better. I’d like to think the looks I get at the gym when people see my now obviously pregnant belly are looks of respect. Regardless, I felt happier about myself. Still running 6 months into my 4th pregnancy in 5 years… I’m a badass!!

  4. Sandi permalink
    November 2, 2010 5:32 am

    I agree with your post except for the part of Cheney being responsible for the actions of a huge corporation. I went on the website to try and see if he is on the board of directors but was not able to find the information. I do know he is not involved in the daily running of the company or holds a senior management position so I think you are blaming him because of a past relationship. He did not make the decisions that affected the oil spill. Let’s blame those who are at fault. You may not have liked him as VP but he is not evil.

    • Laurie Allin permalink
      November 2, 2010 6:14 am

      I’m sorry to say it looks like you’ve missed the big picture of what this post was really about and would like to encourage you to read it again, because it really was great.

    • November 2, 2010 10:55 am

      Hey Sandy–I agree he is not responsible. Part of what’s frustrating with life as I know it now is that I don’t have the time to sit down and digest all the information I’d like to. I’m not blaming him, but the way I perceived his attitude while he was in office continues to influence how I think of him today.

  5. Judy permalink
    November 2, 2010 5:42 am

    I have been following you two for a while. I think that this is your best post ever. I am going to post it to remind myself of these points. Some days are over whelming, then I get out and run and it makes it all better. Thanks!

  6. Laurie Allin permalink
    November 2, 2010 6:11 am

    Wow!! What a beautiful post. I couldn’t see where this was going at the start but this is one of the most thoughtful and moving things I’ve read about running in quite a while. Thank you for that this morning.

  7. Heidi permalink
    November 2, 2010 6:19 am

    OMG. Love this:

    “Every step: forward. Every step: progress. Every step: closer to my goal. Every step: pure. Every step: stepping up.”

    I want to commit it to memory and repeat it to myself in my next race or tough run – or whatever I am wanting to slack off on in the moment. So true.

    (And I totally agree with your un-PC Halliburton equation 🙂 too, and had the same reaction as you when I saw that story. Outrage, followed by the knowledge it will be met with indifference, and nothing. It’s so defeating.)

  8. November 2, 2010 6:49 am

    Yes, yes, and yes! I heard the same story and felt the same way. Thanks, Dim!

  9. Laurie permalink
    November 2, 2010 7:09 am

    Awesome! Thanks for the inspiration (and the knowledge that I am not the only mother out there drowing in dog hair).

  10. Katie permalink
    November 2, 2010 7:32 am

    I love the political ad where the candidate shows his opponet doing cartwheels. My first thought was, “Wow! The guy can do cartwheels. He’s got my vote.” Not the message the ad creator wanted, I’m sure. But, it just shows how disenchanted I’ve become with the whole process. I’m in a forced PMA (positive mental attitude) mode these days.

  11. November 2, 2010 7:38 am

    Thank you for this! I wish I’d read it before I reset the alarm at 4:40 this morning and skipped my run 🙂 I tend to forget where I started in this whole running journey, but when I do look back, I can feel strong and powerful knowing I’m making progress in at least one area of my life. And it’s good to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t make it to the grocery store or around to cleaning as often as she would like. Thanks again!

  12. Jessica permalink
    November 2, 2010 7:39 am

    You just gave me chills and let me with my head nodding in agreement! THANK YOU for the boost this morning- the reminder- the passion- the fire! JUST AWESOME!

  13. Lisa permalink
    November 2, 2010 8:04 am

    Halliburton=Cheney=evil is 100% my thinking, especially after having to investigate Halliburton for a class. Did you know they bid on reconstruction contracts for Iraq BEFORE we had decided to invade?

    I digress. I needed a kick in the pants, and came to my favorite place out of habit, and got one. I’ve been so lazy and apethetic for a week about my running.

    Thank you!

    • Holly S. permalink
      November 2, 2010 10:20 am

      Halliburton=Cheney=evil! Couldn’t agree more, and this oil rig cement is really just icing on top of the big war cake. It makes me so mad to think of all the money that’s gone to them, for what? Wow, is there anything else we could have used that for? I’m getting so ticked thinking about it that I may need to run again today, and it’s only been a few hours since I got done.

  14. November 2, 2010 9:10 am

    Wow. Love this post on so many levels. Couldn’t agree with you more. And again, what timing! Read this while in line to vote (which always makes me feel hopeful, for a fleeting moment).

    After the half on Saturday I was in a post race slump—Sunday and Monday. Not really in the mood to think about running, got some post race blues, feeling overwhelmed with the messy house, trying to understand 6th grade math homework (ack!), stressful clients at work and the dog with bronchitis hacking up a lung. Mumbled last night about how we accomplished nothing over the weekend when my husband reminded me that I ran a half marathon. Nice, but that didn’t take care of the mess and the stress from the list above. He told me to make sure I go for a run over lunch today to distress a bit. Did not sound appealing, did not even pack my work out bag. Then read this. It’s almost as if you said to me, “Jo, do you remember why you run in the first place” Powerful. Every step: forward, progress, pure. It all started with those intentions. Despite what life may have handed me, running helps me rise above that. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Katie Pace permalink
    November 2, 2010 9:43 am

    Sorry guys, I know it’s your website but I turned here this morning to get AWAY from all of the political rhetoric to focus on running, running, and only running. I realize that’s where you ended up by the end but look at the responses it inspired. More bickering. You lost me on this one.

    • Csaf permalink
      November 2, 2010 10:24 am

      I have to ditto this one. Love the RLAM site — just prefer to leave politics out of my running! It’s nothing but divisive, and while I can understand the emotions that led up to the Halliburton/Cheney/evil comment, I was disappointed to see them posted here. This site is my respite from all the other mud-slinging news of the day.

      • November 2, 2010 10:57 am

        10-4, CSAF and Katie. Definitely not turning this into a AM radio political show, but just wanted to do a time-sensitive, honest post about my–emphasis on my–perspective of the world today. Back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. 🙂

    • Meagan permalink
      November 3, 2010 4:06 pm

      I agree completely. No politics please. And if you must discuss politics leave names out of it and lets stop looking for people to blame and just try to hold ourselves accountable for what we can do to lessen our own personal consumption of oil.

  16. November 2, 2010 10:04 am

    “Every step: forward. Every step: progress. Every step: closer to my goal. Every step: pure. Every step: stepping up.”

    NICE! Great reminder that while I can’t control the world around me, I can control the spirit within me by taking “a step” – and THAT will affect the world around me.

  17. Andrea permalink
    November 2, 2010 10:13 am

    Thank you Dimity, for the whole post.

  18. realrellim permalink
    November 2, 2010 10:24 am

    My last run found me pulling campaign signs illegally placed in open space (our town passed a law about it a few years ago, and I was outraged to find some in an otherwise beautiful, open spot). Clearly, I wasn’t the only person to have thought so, because several other campaign signs (same campaign–they apparently placed them every 20 freakin’ feet!) had also been pulled down and some looked as if they’d been trampled. (And to anyone who might be wondering, NO IT IS NOT OK TO BREAK THE LAW JUST BECAUSE YOU SUPPORT A STUPID BALLOT INITIATIVE. Love it or leave it–and in this case, I mean love this town and its laws, or move elsewhere so you can pollute beautiful spaces with ugly campaign signs all you want. It’s not freedom of speech to litter. If you want to stand in open space and hold the sign, you may do so. You just can’t shove 20 in the ground in the dark of night and then run away.)

    I’m so glad the election will be over, the signs will be gone, and I’ll be able to run in peace again along my open space routes.

    And, I’m really looking forward to holding myself accountable this month. November is usually the month where my mileage plummets (read 3-6 miles/week, if that), and I’m determined to not let that happen this year.

  19. Hollie permalink
    November 2, 2010 11:10 am

    had this conversation on my social run last week. I think it may be the “snippets of good” that really count and that we can control. Think of all the good you are creating with two well loved and cared for kids. Thanks for sharing, hope you can find hope again (maybe look outside of politics for this)

  20. November 2, 2010 11:12 am

    I’m ignoring the political stuff, cuz I’m Canadian and don’t follow US politics that closely. However, the running part of the post totally hit a nerve! I’ve finally hit a point in my running life where finishing a run = happiness, and your post really describes the sense of self-empowerment I feel after running. Thanks, Dimity, for making me smile today.

  21. November 2, 2010 11:52 am

    “The usual reasons–wanting to fit in with the awesome RLAM tribe, fighting the blues, fitting into my jeans, defusing my energy so that my offspring don’t take the brunt of my frustrations”

    COMPLETELY get this!

    But love this even more.

    “But these days, when I feel like it’s going to be an impossible task to leave this world in better shape than when I got here, I have to run for one simple reason: to lead by example.”

    I’m ok with political talk/discussion/discourse. It is part of the world we run in.

    On leading by example, I posted this on your awesome RLAM fb page…

    Running by example seems to be working in our house….My 5yo son told his 3yo sister he needed some privacy so he was going for a run. He strapped on his fire engine “running watch” and took a couple laps around the downstairs.

  22. November 2, 2010 11:58 am

    I LOVE THIS POST!!!! I feel the same way on days that I’m busy, have been up most of the night working on case studies or studying for exams, my son is sick and I’m just feeling completely overwhelmed, I still fit in exercise and eat healthfully just to lead by example. If I want to be a dietitian someday, telling patients to fit in exercise and to make healthy food choices and to put in the extra effort it takes to cook ahead, pack lunches, or research healthier options despite their own chaotic lives then I better be doing it myself. Walk the Talk! Thanks for this post, it rocked!

  23. November 2, 2010 12:40 pm

    Love this! thank you !

  24. Ellen permalink
    November 2, 2010 12:54 pm

    Very well said. I always say that if all of the world leaders could go for a run together, we might be able to solve some of the world’s problems.

  25. Trish permalink
    November 2, 2010 1:03 pm

    I for one, adored this post. I enjoy reading a perspective that might not be all glossy, all look at how great we all are, and all we can do anything we want to if we just run. Dimity, I bought completely what you were selling today and I thank you for it. Being Canadian, we watched as the Gulf was destroyed and we sent resources, people and tons of prayers down there, hell yes, we should cry for that tragedy. At the end of the day, we run to find the positive, to work through our issues, not to pretend they don’t exist, so for me, this was a total win post!

    thank you!

    Trish

  26. November 2, 2010 2:25 pm

    Ellen- a required pre-negotiation run for all UN diplomats before major meetings? Nice!

    Ladies, just don’t let your frustration from politics keep you from participating, even when you think it’s pointless. So few Americans do little more than vote, but you know what? It matters, especially at the local and state level. The ads are a huge part of the process because statistical studies say that getting a call from a campaign makes you more likely to vote and that people who see more political ads are better informed about politics, really. They can’t control your income or education, which actually dictate overwhelmingly who votes, they’re trying to do what they can at the margins to get you to the polls and to vote for them.

    I’ll get off my soap box now, sorry, I’m a political scientist and can’t help it on election day!

  27. GrungeRun permalink
    November 2, 2010 2:58 pm

    Damn Right!

  28. Meredith Greene permalink
    November 2, 2010 3:58 pm

    Thank you so much for your honesty and inspiration. You put into words exactly what I’ve been feeling! Your blog is a highlight in my day. Keep those honest and opinionated posts coming!

    • Katie permalink
      November 2, 2010 4:13 pm

      Ditto! It’s a privilege to be privy to your honest opinion and the honest disclosure of your feelings about motherhood (your camping trip with Ben), your injuries, your struggle with writing a birthday tribute to your mom. And what it means to you to step up. Love it, Dimity, keep it coming.

      • Ruthie permalink
        November 2, 2010 8:08 pm

        Meredith and Katie said it better than I could. Thank you Dimity for putting both the complexity and simplicity of life into words. Often when I read RLAM, I am reminded that I run because it helps me sort out what is complicated. And at the same time it makes me a richer and more complicated woman.

  29. Terzah permalink
    November 2, 2010 4:19 pm

    Dimity, I loved this post too. But it did raise a question that has been niggling at me in a fuzzy way for a long time until what you wrote brought it into sharper focus for me. Should I feel guilty about spending time on running rather than things that really might help people besides myself and my immediate circle? No doubt my running helps me and therefore my family/friends–but that’s really a pretty small impact.

    To put it another way, it’s one thing for an amateur like me to exercise, but my running isn’t just exercise. It’s also hobby, obsession, yuppie indulgence, time sink–especially when I’m training for something long. Sometimes I guiltily think, shouldn’t I spend more of this time on volunteering with the less fortunate, or my church, or for the political causes I believe in, or, heck, just on reading and keeping up better with what’s going on in the world (because time spent on that has shrunk to exactly nil since my kids were born)? Should I stop spending money on expensive running shoes and gadgets and synthetic clothing, and give it to the poor?

    Am I really leading anybody by example when I run? I’m not Ryan Hall or Lance Armstrong, whose talent at their sports has allowed them to create foundations to fund worthy causes. I guess I could run for a charity, but really, I know I’d be more effective elsewhere (and I’m not saying this to dis *anyone* who runs for charity–it’s a statement about me only). Anything I worthy I could do for others (sad but true) will have to be done via other means than running. Yet I really really want to keep running.

    What does everyone think?

  30. Laura permalink
    November 2, 2010 6:40 pm

    I heard the story about BP and the cement as well and walked away with a sick feeling in my stomach. Being part of corporate America, I know that decisions have to be made, and there was some evidence that the cement might hold, as well as proof that it wouldn’t. Either way, the ball got dropped and these people need to pay the price. The pictures of the tar covered birds brought out an environmental side of me I didn’t know existed. I couldn’t even look at them. It made me sick to my stomach.

    But the world still turns. And there will be yet another disaster because people are in control and people make mistakes. So the way I keep myself sane is by running. I have had ups and downs. I have been sidelined from an illness and surgery that almost took my life, and the while time I was recovering all I could ask the doctor was “when can I start to run”. I have had three hard years of recovery, but thanks to RLAM I have my inspiration and mojo back. I have bought several books on running, I plan my day around my runs and I have just decided that it is as important to me as my husband, my Yellow Lab Scout and my job. And I am going to make time in my day – even if I have to get up at 4:30 am to get in my run. It is my sanity. People like me better when I run..heck I like me better when I run. So run I will. And I will find a running group. Scout is a great companion (she even picks up other dogs on our runs – and I can’t find a friend to run with….how lame) but I need some human running pals. My quest for that starts this Thursday. I will try a running group, and if I don’t like it I will try another, and another.

    Now if I can just break 4 hours…no – let me restate that – I will break 4 hours, and it will be in 2011. I’m not getting any younger.

  31. November 2, 2010 6:46 pm

    this is a wonderful – and yes, timely – post. like another RLAMer said, i’m suffering from some post-race depression and general overwhelmedbymylifedness in the moment, and you’ve done a lot to remind me that what seems so small can be such a difference-maker. acting with intent, and the intention to leave the world better than it was when i came into it, is the surest way back to feeling positive.
    even when politics and politicians do their best to convince us there’s not much good left out there.

  32. Amy permalink
    November 2, 2010 8:21 pm

    Thanks for the thoughtful post and for apparently taking a risk to publish it. Bottom line is running is a way to step up and say that taking care of yourself matters. That sets an example for our kids who we hope will pass those lessons on to their kids. Those who see us run might start themselves. It’s like a little ripple in the water. One good deed/action begets another. Keep running because it does matter. Pure, progress, powerful. Just beautiful.

  33. Atha permalink
    November 2, 2010 9:17 pm

    As someone who has been affected by the BP oil spill, I felt I needed to chime in. I agree with others who have posted in that I come to this community to escape daily political opinions. However, you have highlighted something that alot of people choose to ignore. Every run that I take I run by the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. EVERY RUN! I worry about the long term affects of my 5 children and what this means for our livliehood. I worry about if we will be able to maintain our standard of living and I worry about our tourism. The fact is that this was a horrible tragedy and alot of people are to blame. I don’t believe this is a Republican/ Democrat thing though. I generally love your blogs and site but respectfully disagree with your opinion on this one. Looking forward to tomorrows hump Day Giveaway 🙂

  34. November 3, 2010 9:02 pm

    its so amazing how you put into words what so many of us have been feeling. I felt so powerless voting, feeling that filling in the bubble for the lesser (maybe, maybe not) of two evils should be our right and our privilege but still not a good answer. I cried reading your post because things are so stressful here without even thinking about what goes on beyond our little bubble that not only my eyes but my heart read your post and the words felt like mine. As you crested that hill… I believe so many of us are holding onto that feelings for dear life and sometimes running is the only way I feel powerful these days.

  35. November 5, 2010 2:47 pm

    Well said

  36. Michelle permalink
    November 6, 2010 8:14 pm

    Great post – sorry I just got to it today. It would have been nice to read on Tuesday.

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