Sunday, 21 September 2014

on Invictus, strength and joy

USA Athletics competitor Redmond Ramos
Tuesday, still high on the amazing Invictus Games weekend, I pulled on my "I am the Captain of my Soul" t-shirt, with "Foo Fighters" emblazoned across the back and set off for a run....and ran the absolute worst run in years...maybe ever. I was too hot. Felt sick to my stomach. No pace whatsoever...

Both Ibi and Alice are much faster runners than I will ever be. Last Thursday they tried to convince me to join them on what sounded a hellish session on the track. One of these 800m x 4 then 400m x get the idea. The purpose is muscle building. Which makes you faster. I know this to be true. And I know that their willingness to do this makes them faster than me. HOWEVER, I love running. It is a pleasure and a treat. If I started doing things that made it a chore, I may give it up forever. So last Thursday night I accepted the fact that I will never be faster than I am now. Fine. No problem.

I don't run to win. Thank goodness. Cuz I don't win. I run because I love it. I love the adrenaline, I love the day dreaming. I love imagining the scornful zingers I should deliver to former bosses and boyfriends.  The novels I could write. The worlds I would save. I race because I love to cross a finish line. Accomplishing a goal. Very fond of medals. It is a pleasure. A simple pleasure. And a joy.

Wheelchair Rugby, GB v USA
That isn't to say my heart didn't pound during the Invictus Games. The excitement, the power, the fierceness of competition. The magnificence of winning. Not just winning. Overcoming seemingly impossible odds to win. Single amputees, double amputees, blindness, PTSD, to name but a few of the injuries. And yet, there they were. Pounding down the track, smashing it in rugby, flying through the water. The joy, the joy of the experience. What excuse do us mere mortals have??

Richard, Anne, Philippa & Craig
Closing Ceremony Concert
Frank Turner
And then the concert. James Blunt (what a lovely man), Frank Turner (my obsession), Kaiser Chiefs (good fun) and Foo Fighters (arguably the greatest rock band of the moment.) Dave Grohl, perfect
 frontman. As one reviewer wrote, their songs are "two fingers up to adversity," What a way to finish the Invictus be joined with 25,999 others screaming the lyrics "times like these you learn to live again..." and for a few brief moments I felt part of the Invictus community. What a fabulous feeling that was. And what utter rubbish. All it took for me to make it to Invictus was a journey on the tube to East London. Hardly a hardship. No injury. No rehab. No challenging myself beyond conventional limits. I won't even consider a few sprints round a track.

Jumping for Joy
Yet, yet, yet..... I may not have the Invictus strength. But I have the joyful heart. And that takes me pretty far.

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