I’m fond of posing rhetorical questions to myself. Lately, my favorite: Who put this ceiling up? By ceiling, I mean limitations, and I’ve got an answer to my question.
On August 11, 2005, I ran a 5K race really fucking fast. Blazing speed, huffing lungs, endorphin rush– the whole damn deal. The race was a charity event for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and because we lawyers are fucking hilarious it was called “Race Judicata.” FN 1. On the way home from the race, my
boyfriend summer fling broke up with me with the piercing line: “You’re not The One.”
I took it exactly as you’d expect. I hurled my favorite Tag fruit bowl on the floor and cabbed it to my best friend’s house where I
slept cried on her guest bed all night long. The next morning at work I kept my door shut and informed my secretary that I was not accepting visitors. I was busy waiting for my therapist to call me and tell me it would be okay.
In my grief, I checked my official time for the race. 24:44 (7:57 minutes per mile), a PR.
My time was a small consolation for the heartache. “At least I ran faster than I ever had before.”
It was fun to set a PR. I was 32– single (suddenly), childless and fast. I was sure I’d never beat that time. How could I possibly?
Every year I would see the sign-up sheets for the annual Race Judicata, and I’d sneer. As much as I loved my PR, I didn’t like the memory of my post-race dump. I swore I’d never run that blasted race again.
And while I am a woman of high integrity who keeps her word 99% of the time, I retracted here. When folks from my office organized a group to run this year’s race, I relented. After all, my story had a happy ending– I met and married someone exceedingly better for me than Race Dumper, and we have two beautiful children. I was done with the ghosts of Race Judicata past.
“Sign me up,” I cried, fist to the air.
It wasn’t in my plan to set a PR. Impossible. For God’s sake, I’m 41, I’ve got a 10-inch scar on my lower abdomen from my children’s births, and breasts that are still nursing. The last thing I need is a PR.
Maybe it was the perfectly ripe banana I ate right before the race. Or the Amy’s enchiladas frozen entrée I ate for lunch. Maybe it was the breeze off the Lake that evening or the fact that I wanted to go home and eat dinner with my family. I don’t know, but I did it: I PR’ed the goddamned Race Judicata, clocking in at 24:37. Not by much, obviously. Though, I’d argue that 7 seconds is significant in a wide range of important contexts.
Like this one.
This one where I said over and over (to myself), “Your PR days are over. You’re middle-aged. Your’re a mother. You’re probably closer to an artificial hip than a PR.”
Folks, none of that was true. None of the bullshitty, limiting things I said to myself about this 5K race were accurate. My C-section scars and my unevenly shaped breasts didn’t keep me from besting my 32-year-old self’s best time.
Absolutely nothing physical keeps me from reaching any finish line I choose. It’s the thoughts, each one a brick creating a ceiling above my head that requires me to crouch and stoop and, more importantly, hides the limitless sky from view.
So, who put up the ceiling?
FN1: Race judicata is a play on words. It refers to the legal principle “res judicata,” which shares its pronunciation with “race judicata” and is Latin for “a matter already judged.” In both civil law and common law legal systems, a case in which there has been a final judgment and is no longer subject to appeal; and the legal doctrine bars (or precludes) continued litigation of a case on same issues between the same parties. In this latter usage, the term is synonymous with “preclusion”. In the case of res judicata, the matter cannot be raised again, either in the same court or in a different court. A court will use res judicata to deny reconsideration of a matter.
See how hilarious the law is?
WAKE UP! You’ve got to go get the kids and file your expense report! Get Going!