It’s ‘Oh Wow!’
It’s been a hec of a summer, weather-wise here on the east coast. I try and think back to when in my childhood did we have such constant heat and humidity. I grew up without many amenities that we now have. The likes of air-conditioning, a washer and dryer. Two bathrooms in one household and plenty of food.
All that was so unimaginable to me back then. I had no clue, the inconveniences of my childhood. I laugh as I type such an incomprehensible word. Inconvenience, it sounds so passe. As if I now need to stick my nose up in the air, suddenly. Only the well-to-do had such things when I was a kid. Not a middle-class mom. It was all about the good struggle of life. Pride in pinching pennies. Making your own ades and soda. Faking gourmet food. And you knew how to polish silver. You could have had tea with the Queen of England, because you learned how to hold a cup of tea. Knowing where all the different extended pieces of silverware went. That you knew. I think this as I remark to our oldest, “What if you meet royalty?” Little does she know I come from royalty. Yes I do.
I say our oldests’ name and remark, “So, I can see it now. You meet this person related to the Queen of England. And the napkin? Seriously? That spoon goes to the left of the fork….”
In my day, the girls washed the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, dusted, carpet-swept the rugs. I was granted access to indoor chores by age four. The boys were held in high-esteem.
Times have changed. After my second amateur MMA fight at age forty-eight. I was asked by my twenty-four-year-old opponent, who was stunned about my strength. Truly, it was not that I won. It was how I won.
I picked her up by the neck, forcing her to jump her body into guard onto my upright body. Then I proceeded to carry her around the cage.
My left arm was wrapped around her neck, whilst my right fist happily punched her in the ribs. All this as I walked around wondering, ‘Where I’d carry her to?’ Her corner yelled, “She’s going to get tired!” I nearly responded, ‘Now you done pissed me off. I was content walking around having my opponent strapped to my body. Letting her choke herself out, while I punched her in the ribs.’ At the time my coach seated next to an Oregon official turned to the official and said, “So that’s their plan? It’s gonna’ be a long wait.”
Then I thought I heard my coach yell, “Bring her over here!” I thought about it for a second. Then I decided, ‘Let me just finish her.’ So, I walked her over to her corner. As I did, I could hear her corner men salivating. And right in front of them I hoisted her butt up onto the cage and finished the choke. She tapped.
After, she asked, “How come you’re so strong?” I replied, mindfully and respectfully. “You have a washer and dryer when you grew up?” I shrugged. She just stared at me dumbfounded. I continued, “I didn’t. I was washing our clothes and sheets on a metal and wood scrub board. Kneeling next to our bathtub with my mom. Then we’d hang ‘em out to dry. We didn’t have air-conditioning either. Could be that.” She tilted her head. I realized there was more to it.
I began again, “I think it’s running with water bottles in my hands for thirty-five or more miles thirty times a year, for years. Or perhaps prepping for running across the Mohave desert in July. I did that some years.” I paused, “Yeah. That’s probably it. You know twenty ounces of water weighs… bottle included about two point three pounds. Yeah that’s it.”
So, this morning, when I woke up initially at twenty after five. I saw the temperature on my phone just an hour before had been eighty-one degrees. At first, I thought, ‘Had I ever experienced this?’ I laid back into bed awaiting half past five, then stretched, made the bed. Picked up my water bottle and phone and went to brush my teeth.
As I followed through on my daily regimen and chores involving filtering our water for the day. Drinking my twenty ounces of water. Prepping coffee, making the greens for the children and myself. Then taking care of our pets’ food and water needs. I decided to step out our front door. The weather hit me like a enclosed leather mass. Birds and bugs chirped and buzzed as usual. However, I wondered as to when I’d experienced barely any rain, oppressive heat and humidity so unrelenting for so long as this.
As I did pet care, I reminisced when growing up as a child not to far from where I now reside. We had weeks like this in the summers. Yet, I remember June 1993, the deaths that were caused by similar conditions in Chicago, not in northern New Jersey. Although, back then it was seemingly just as oppressive. May 1999 into March 2000 was mostly dry. Drier than I’d ever recalled.
I knew today was my twelve-mile running day. I ate a light piece of homemade lemon loaf with my coffee. After cleaning the kitchen, I was off to run. Not knowing what I’d accomplish today, if at all. The first three miles were questionable. I couldn’t feel good. Yet, I knew I had been here before. Not once, but many times before. That almost scary queasy feeling in your body. You have to decipher whether it is fear of now the unknown, which you hadn’t experienced in years.
Years, of not having pushed the body to the intention that you are currently planning to. Or was it new, and something to caution yourself with? Or bail on the mission at hand? I reverted back to a scene, one morning in Death Valley in July 2005, two days before the 135 mile race there. I knew a lone wolf was wandering around. There was no one in sight within any distance of the hotel. We were staying in Stovepipe Wells. I’d slept in till half past seven. A big mistake. I didn’t get out till half past eight to run five miles, just to shake out the legs a bit.
Back then seventeen years ago, I stepped outside, no shade to be found. The heat gloved me in all its mass. It was already over one hundred and ten degrees. The pavement had to be holding at one hundred fifty degrees, easily. However, not much in the area of humidity. Kiddingly, we’d joke and say, “Yes, it’s one hundred and twenty-six degrees. But it’s a dry heat.” Then we’d giggle, commenting, “Yeah. Right.”
Going back to this morning. After four miles my body began to regulate. By six I knew I was safe, yet I was cautious. When you’re re-experimenting with your body years later, you don’t know what’s in the tank yet. I got in an easy thirteen miler, almost decided to go fourteen miles. However, I realized I wanted to make certain my daughters were awake in a timely fashion. As well, had their rehydrated grasses, water and so forth before both headed off to work.
As I arrived home and shed off the two shirts that I’d worn during the run, now drenched. I threw on a clean ripped t-shirt. And called up to one daughter to make coffee for her. I could hear the irritability of the heat she’d experienced. Already entrenched in her body and mind from the now weeks of the heat of summer getting old for her.
I too realized, that I’d soon be meeting a high schooler at a track for a training set. I knew It could be intimidating for them. I took it in stride. Deciding to roll with however they felt. I’ve learned to readjust any preconceived notions about anyone.
As I witnessed the heat increasing, and her getting mentally challenged. I remarked, “Be like water. You know the difference between water and rock?” She replied, “Water flows…” I responded, “Correct. Water is flexible. It can seep anywhere. It can go under, over, around. There’s just no stopping it because of its flexibility.”
“…There are only a few things that are like a rock, and it’s a good thing.” I paused, as I had her walk in the shade with me. “A few things are like a rock that we wouldn’t want to challenge the paradigm they’re in. One is ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’. Another is ‘Thou shalt not kill’. And basic mathematical equations. Most everything else we can shift and conquer paradigm paralysis. Everything else is science. There’s wiggle room and more. Its about ‘Wow!’ And no opinion of other’s matters. Don’t judge you. Its all lessons. That is running. That is science. It’s all lessons.” It’s about ‘Oh Wow!’---Jody-Lynn Reicher