Friday, November 02, 2012

Being both

Every Friday, I take a 2 hour ballet/pointe class through BU. Last week, this class happened to occur about 45 minutes after I had raced a "5K" (actually 3.5 mile) race and placed second. After scarfing down a sandwich and struggling into my leotard, I was at the barre doing plies and frappes with the rest of the class, legs exhausted, calves screaming every time I had to hold a releve. What are you doing?! my body was screaming at me. This is insane!

Sometimes, as I looked around the class during center work, and saw girls who could pirouette more cleanly than me, had better extensions than me, could master quick footwork better than me, I thought, ah, if only I hadn't stopped taking ballet for the past 8 years. I am lucky to possess a fair amount of qualities that naturally lend me to dance - long legs, flexible back, and (my one claim to fame) really, really great feet - and there are times when I wonder what could have been had life worked out differently, if I had devoted myself completely to dance. But in glancing around the class again, I had another thought: how many of these girls have ever RACED a 5K? Or a marathon? Or known the feeling of one last 800 as the rain starts to come down, pounding the track until you can't see, and there's nothing but you and your breath and the feeling of being so completely alive?

The thought works in reverse too: how many of those who I run with have ever known the feeling of finally landing that turn, of being so caught up in the music and the movement that you almost feel like you've transcended into a different plane. How many of them have felt the ache of a long day in pointe shoes, or the chill-inducing joy of seeing a dance that you created, alone in your living room, come to life on the stage?

Looking at my training over the past few months, it's easy to wonder if I've stopped caring about running, lost motivation, whatever. But really, I don't think it's so much that I've lost running as that I've found (re-found) dance. And when I think about how rare it is to be able to have not one, but two passions - to know what it is to push my body to the limit in a race AND to fly on stage in front of the audience, to be both a badass runner with my race face on AND a ballerina in pointe shoes and a bun, to be both - I mostly think I'm pretty damn lucky. And sometimes it may mean I run less miles in a week, but it's worth it for the opportunity to be both.