There were all the race medals I was so proud of, years of hard work, training, and memories. Some of those years, I raced with joy, feet pounding the pavement, rhythm in my heart. Others were beset with injury, pain, frustration, even heartache and tears.
Then came the coronavirus and a slew of endings. Races around the world were put on hold. Elite runners everywhere mourned the cancellation of marathons in New York, London, and Tokyo. Running an occasional virtual race or two kept me going at first, maintained the excitement and my fitness level, but even that faded in the wake of the ongoing chaos of the pandemic. Running became glue, a way to hold it together, of coping, of learning to live with it all. Instead of training for a marathon, I felt I was suddenly living one, and it wasn’t fun because nothing was fun anymore.
So here I am.
Trying to figure out what to do with my past, hanging there on the wall, all those ribbons and medals representing memories, colorful ones, monotone ones, cheaply-made ones. Some are reminders of races that were a bitch to run, making me wonder why I was even there in the first place, races I struggled through, mouth breathing heavily every mile, stomach churning, regretting the lack of training, sleep, or carbohydrates, whatever it was missing from the formula that made this race so hard. Those were the times I questioned whether it was it worth the pain and injury, wondered whether it truly was worth never coming first?
And now, faced with all those memories hanging there, I ponder what do you do with them? Recycle them? Trash them?
In the end, it I knew it was time. I decide to move on and set the past aside, what went right, what went wrong. Some medals, I keep hanging there, talismans I can’t bear to lose sight of, all the firsts: first race, first half marathon, first marathon, my greatest triumphs. And what I’ve run so far in 2021. Those stay too as part of the new era.
Because it’s time to start over.
And so I let go of the old.
Somehow, it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined. Medals and memories have been placed in a box. So what to do with them? What would best serve my purpose, my plan to move forward?
For now, they rest in my office closet, sandwiched between my college notebooks and some old photograph albums. An appropriate home, I think.