Sunday, February 10, 2013

In the Running . . .


Here's an enlarged cropped photo my husband took with his cellphone as I ran past him about 300 metres from the Finish Line of the Vancouver First Half Marathon this morning.
I was surfing a lovely wave of endorphins, the often elusive Runner's High, and I was delighted to see him there, a complete surprise. 
Don't I look happy?!

Annoyed to report that when I first saw this photo, I critiqued my hair, my teeth, and my weight. I wouldn't do that with any other woman who looked so happy about accomplishing a goal, however minor. I am trying to undo the patterning that makes me so hard on my visual self -- it's a lifelong project, though, and there are only so many years left.

That said, I was amused to note, this morning as I got ready to join 2000 other runners, all but my sister strangers to me, that only running gets me out in a crowd without make-up, without my hair styled. I feel good enough about my running self -- strong, disciplined, kinda proud in a modest way, if I may -- that I don't feel I need to "pretty up" -- And I don't see much sense in applying products that will get in the way of my skin breathing while I'm working out. Which rather makes me think that I'm at least a few steps toward self acceptance. . . . 

Whatever. I have now completed my 8th Half Marathon, the last I'll do before I'm 60, my last big run before the Vancouver Marathon in May. . . . My time wasn't a personal best, but it was quite decent (probably about 2:04 once adjusted times are posted) considering my recent illness as well as having been awake most of Friday night while my Mom chatted and sang and sobbed all through the night (pain meds recently boosted -- I suspect the adjustment exacerbated the encroaching dementia, to say nothing of the narcotic effect. . . .)

Marking happily now, with an evening in my granddaughter's company (and her parents & my guy). 
So content.
And you?


32 comments:

  1. I am SO impressed! You look beautiful. So energized and alive. And pls. - who has fluffy salon hair after running a freakin' half marathon? I barely have it and I just sit on my ass all day knitting. Which doesn't do much for the perkiness of said ass. See - wimmin, we're semi-fucked up with the body image stuff - even when we're well-adjusted!!

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    1. Yes! This is what I'm saying! At least semi-fucked up, maybe even all the way! I couldn't believe it was my first response to the photo, especially because I have such a precise feeling of how glowingly happy I felt turning to see him there as I ran confidently, even victoriously. . . . And I am pretty well-adjusted, right? ;-)

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    2. Of course you are! You're a veritable example!

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  2. Well, before I read your words I only saw the beautiful, happy, triumphant woman - still see her.
    re the hair.....curly hair like yours just gets BETTER in the drizzle and wind.
    We are so hard on ourselves - so just stop it and go with some exulting ululation!

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    1. I love that command! Ululating some exultation right noW!

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  3. You look WONDERFUL! What you've got going on there is better than any makeup or hair styling could ever be:) Well done!

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  4. Oh my goodness, this photo is a treasure. Such pure joy on your face. It really made me happy to see this. And congratulations on finishing a HALF MARATHON! I am in awe.

    One thing I realized recently as far as critiquing goes -- I think a lot of that has to do with the nature of photographs (cell phone photos, at that). In real life we see past whatever we're not directly focused on, to see only the beauty in something, but in a photo sometimes the stuff we don't see in real life becomes front and center. Like when I try to take a photo of the beautiful snow falling on a city street but when I look at the photo all I can see is the cars, telephone pole, and telephone wires.

    Fortunately, the joy and beauty in your photo is all I can see, and I smile every time I look at it. :)

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    1. Isn't that so true? I mean I sort of knew it, but it's like you describing it so well just made it clear to me. Why photos of people (myself!) and like you say, even streets or etc. somehow emphasize certain awkward elements (like expressions and telephone wires). Oh, and backgrounds! I started taking photographs of couples for some minor advertisements and things in the background you would never notice in real life would just wreck the photos. I had to start obsessing about backgrounds - and it helped. Great comment, thanks.

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    2. I think this is true -- photographs freeze and frame us in a way that rarely (and then generally only in the lens of talented photographers) acknowledges context.
      Thanks, Evelynne, for taking the time to comment. And thanks to Anonymous for extending the thought.

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  5. I'm so impressed! And you do look VERY happy (and beautiful) there.

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    1. It's a kind of beauty, isn't it? Not one I've been programmed to acknowledge, but one I could feel in the moment.

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  6. I love the look on your face! Triumphant, joyful, beautiful! How hard we are on ourselves as women. Why is that, I wonder?

    Congratulations!

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    1. I agree. When I find myself doing that (with myself or even other women, not in a catty way but just... I do), I sometimes in my mind make it the same photo but of a man and I don't think that negative, judgmental way at all. I mean, I actually see differently. I see blue eyes or a twinkle or happiness or confidence whereas I might look at the same photo/woman and think "oh and old woman." Or I should say "used to," because once I recognized it I have improved my "vision" immensely. Now I start to see every "old" woman as Georgia O'Keefe (because I never saw her as an old woman, I always saw... Georgia O'Keefe!). It really is warped vision!

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    2. Thanks Lorrie. And again, to Anonymous, thanks for extending the conversation. I don't think we do critique men in the same way at all, and we have centuries and centuries of women being posed as visual objects to point to as a way of understanding our conditioning. I think choosing powerful and iconic women (such as O'Keeffe) who transcend standard perceptions of beauty is a really useful way to push past the old lenses. . .

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    3. I'm with anonymous - if I find myself silently criticising I try to look beyond the wild looks or body shape and think about how much effort has put into personal style. I it might not be my style but effort in exercise or getting dressed should be rewarded imo.

      And wow, you look awesome btw

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    4. Yes, we should strive for some sister solidarity!
      Thanks for extending yours! ;-)

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  7. Congratulations, despite the challenge of your mother's illness, you have accomplished a personal goal. I hate the camera but I had my husband take a full picture of me today that I am going to post on my blog soon. Why is it that we always think that our hair is too frizzy, our smile is not right or our body is not what we want?
    You are a strong, healthy smart lady who looks just fine. We need to be as kind and accepting of ourselves as we are to others.

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    1. Oh, I'm looking forward to that post. It's a conversation that crops up regularly in the blog-world, as in life, and I think it's worth us coming back to think about it, to "raise our consciousness" as 60s-70s feminism urged. To learn not just to accept ourselves as we are, but to celebrate our beautiful selves, right?!

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  8. Brilliant, well done. That is a good time and one I am aiming for at my next half marathon. I would be so pleased to come in at that time. You look happy and beautiful and you are smiling coming across the finish line, not in pain as many are when they reach that point.


    You have given me the inspiration. I do know what you mean about the photos, the one I had taken my response was ' what can I do about the red face? I won't be wearing those crazy sports glasses next time and look at the size of my bum!'

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    1. So you're sticking with your training plan? I'm impressed! I haven't checked in at your blog for a while, having fallen behind, rather, with all that's going on at the moment, but I'll have to visit soon. Meanwhile, thanks for commenting -- you seem to know exactly what I mean here!

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  9. I agree with Pondside above re. the curly hair - my fine, straight hair would look like a veritable string mop!!

    Your surprise and happiness shine out of this photo - wonderful!

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    1. Ah, the curly-straight debate. . . .grass is always greener on the other side, right?

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  10. Congrats on your run. I can only dream of running due to my fibromyalgia so I'll have to be content to walk.

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    1. Walking is great as well -- two of my sisters have fibromyalgia, so I know its challenges. Take care.

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  11. When I was in my middle teens I gave up doing all sorts of sport because I hated the way I looked when my face went red! I was in my thirties before I realised that I loved challenging my body, principally these days through yoga and long distance walking. It is tremendously hard for women look at themselves without what they see coming through the lens of hundreds of years of history in which the role of women was to look beautiful and to procreate. It is an odd irony that we have combined thirty years in which women have begun to take a much wider role in the world with a increasing obsession with looks and sexuality. I think in many ways the tyranny of looks has got worse not better. Sadly for anyone like me who would call themselves a feminist we haven't seen any reduction in the way women are judged by how they look as we hoped might happen in the seventies. What we seem to see instead is boys and young men beginning to be drawn into an obsession with how they look. I do so hope I am wrong!
    You look on top of the world! Congratulations.

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    1. I do wonder, sometimes, how we could have got to the point we're at now, where a generation who led the way to so many victories for feminism are now finding ways to justify cosmetic surgeries and an over-dependence (imho) on products to enhance and preserve looks. I'm part of that, to an extent, given what I pay a hair stylist to keep my grey at bay, but I have been trying to develop some acceptance of my physical/visual self as I age, partly because I'm so conscious of my daughters and granddaughters coming along behind. And I do think the young men are, indeed, getting drawn in as well. . .

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  12. Materfamilias, I love this post and all the comments. It makes me/us think and in a different way. That is so important. Before I read this I had not even thought about some of the points raised above. It seems so clear now you have said it. I am off to find out more about 70s feminism. Any pointers on where to start?

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    1. I'd love to help you follow your enthusiasm in researching this, Moonboots, but I'll admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed with responsibilities at the moment -- perhaps another reader might chime in?

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    2. Sorry, understand. No need for any comments. I will take a look myself. Look after yourself at this time. Thinking of you and your mum. Sending as many positive thoughts as I can over the wires.

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  13. I am so proud of you Mater! You do look happy, and beautiful and in love with life in that photo.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Susan -- just the perfect thing to say!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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