You’ve-got-to

First things first. Does anyone have suggestions for upcoming races within driving distance of DC? I have nothing planned after my half on May 4. I’m thinking about looking for a trail race, because I have never run one before, but I’m also open to road races! TAWK to me.

Second things second. This is a quote from Kurt Vonnegut (a Hoosier!) that I love (stay with me, I’m going somewhere, promise):

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.  -Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Today I was thinking about the three babies I know who were born in the past week. Two are in my own family — I have a lot of cousins! — and the third was born to a friend. All three babies made their debut within the last ten days.

My older brother was born shortly after the Challenger exploded. My younger brother was born at the height of Desert Storm. My mom says she remembers these events vividly because they were major, sad news stories during an otherwise happy and momentous time in her life.

Likewise, my cousins who are new parents will probably remember the attack on the Boston Marathon with a particular and acute nostalgia. They brought precious new life into the world, and the attacker(s) stole their thunder. It was a sharp reminder that we are here to love and protect those around us, to cherish and respect each other, to be kind.

Tonight I had planned on running easy treadmill miles so I could knock them out after work and head to a kickball game with friends (yes, I am in second grade. It should surprise exactly no one that professional adults in DC behave like children).

Instead I set out for the National Mall. I felt like running with strangers.

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Half mast.

The mall is therapeutic. I love running down the crowded (SO CROWDED UGH) paths between monuments and watching the tourists’ faces as they take everything in. I love reaching the Lincoln Memorial on the west end at the close of a long day and seeing the evening light bend between the pillars. (Yes it was overcast tonight, shut it, I’m painting a picture here.)

Tonight I kept going, crossing the Roosevelt Key 14th Street Memorial Bridge for a trot down the Mt. Vernon Trail.

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By the time I was done, I clocked 6.2 miles in 56 minutes, roughly 9:00/mi. It felt much more pokey than it was, because I somehow faced headwind every direction I turned — but Wednesday, I am le tired! — so I was very happy to be done.

Many runners posted online about going for a silent run yesterday in honor of the victims at Boston. I was busy raging to Puffy on the treadmill yesterday, so I ran without music tonight instead.

It’s been so long since I ran without headphones that I forgot what happens when I do that: I get a word or phrase stuck on loop in my brain and it repeats, over and over, with the rhythm of my breath or feet, sometimes both. (Does this happen to anyone else?)

Tonight Vonnegut’s “hello, babies” quote rolled around in my head until the last line echoed like a drumbeat: God-damn-it you’ve-got-to be-kind. You’ve-got-to be-kind. God-damn-it you’ve-got-to.

Be-kind, be-kind, be-kind.

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