245

When writing about motherhood some of the key players always, eventually — rightfully — insist on privacy. Sometimes I whisper their ages in surprise — 12, 10, 10. How did we get here and how did it happen so quickly?

The world is heavy right now and I believe it’s a weight we all must carry in personal, public and private ways. I can read, donate, step aside and lift up other voices, stand in front of a city building with a sign, march, wear a mask, argue, kneel, write opinions. But it never feels enough. I think: If I write in this space again, shouldn’t I write to better something or someone? But life is multi-faceted. And I believe, hope, there’s room.

Late Spring a couple friends who live in New York City said they had signed up for the NYCRUNS Subway System Challenge. There are 245 miles of track between New York City’s 472 subway stations. The goal is to run all 245 miles over the summer, beginning on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day. You pay to enter and a portion of the proceeds benefit the Robin Hood Relief Fund, which is helping out vulnerable New Yorkers during the pandemic.

Of course, no one is seeking out writings from a 41-year-old woman who is angry with the world and her metabolism, and so she decides to turn herself into a runner after a 12-year hiatus. I also know that my motivation for writing about this experience is completely misplaced as guilt and pride contribute to my productivity (despite my therapy) so here we are.

I paid my $60 race fee and a singlet, hoodie and medal are being mailed to me (so I have to finish). I also bought the cheapest Apple Watch on the market so I can track my runs (so I have to finish). I’m on a team (so I have to finish). I’ve told people I’m doing this (so I have to finish).

Running is much more difficult than I remember it being. So I run/walk/walk/run and although I’m no longer crying after each one I’ve only run/walked 36.24 miles, which is just 15 percent. I have 70 days and 208.76 miles left which averages to about 3 miles a day. This seems impossible, but I’m still trying.

Knowing that I can walk as well as run eases my anxiety. Plus, when I walk, I see a lot more. Two days ago:

A blue jay.

A cat with blue eyes.

A blue-and-white pinwheel.

I hear a lot more, too.

A man yelling at someone in his house. A mean yell.

Birds.

Squirrels’ claws scampering up trees.

Although I’m using guilt as a motivator to complete this virtual race (you track your runs using the Strava app and log them on the NYCRUNS website), I’m trying to let guilt go in terms of how I complete this race.

I took these pictures on Saturday, while I walked three miles in the nearby cemetery. The air was sticky and heavy with the promise of next-day rain. These photos seem so melancholy to me, as is so much these days. But I also think they’re beautiful, in their own way. Beauty is something I’m trying to see more of right now –– in this world, in me. I’m hoping working through 245 miles will help.