Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Happy Birthday to me!

As I turn 69 today, I find myself enjoying a season of unalloyed personal delight as great as any of us are likely to get in a fucked up world.

EP and JA at Portland Marathon, 2000
Why? Because in act of extreme self-indulgence, abetted and enabled by Erudite Partner and my long suffering friends, I've spent the last six months training my aging body to run a 50K trail route at the end of July. This means I have spent endless hours lumbering in the beautiful country around San Francisco, running ten weeks of over 40 miles per week, and 4 of those more than 50 miles. I can do it!

I am a no-talent runner. I never had any speed and I have less at this age than I ever did. I've always been a Clydesdale (a woman runner over 140 pounds), not one of those scrawny, speedy waifs. I enjoy treating my aging body as an interesting, if sometimes frustrating, "experiment of one" as the great running evangelist Dr. George Sheehan suggested that we all do, voluntarily or involuntarily.

Maybe we could blame John F. Kennedy for my passion. The young president came into office in 1960 when I was in eighth grade, bursting with life and advocating physical fitness. Soon we school children were subjected to annual fitness tests -- my favorite part was the half mile run in which I could outlast my agile classmates. But even more, I was attracted to Kennedy's challenge to try a 50 mile hike. The practice became something of craze in 1962-63. I persuaded my parents to let me try. I think I made 16 miles before blisters did me in. But I was hooked on the notion of going far on foot. And I have forged on ever since, on many hiking adventures and a few marathons.

So why stop now? Besides, this year is the 20th anniversary of Californians for Justice, so I'm making my current 50K jaunt a fundraiser I'm calling a Long Run for the Long Haul.

What is Californians for Justice?
Twenty years ago, an initiative seeking to reduce access for young people of color to state-sponsored educational opportunity (Prop. 209) spurred community groups to support the birth of a new organization.

Californians for Justice organized young people and their parents to struggle for racial justice then; Californians for Justice still organizes youth to develop leadership skills and to win improved public education today.

Californians for Justice believes that young people are the leaders our state needs to win the healthy, just and vibrant schools all of our communities deserve. We ensure that students have the opportunity to grow as leaders, and work with them to win campaigns.

When students are part of the decisions that shape the future of California’s schools, students, schools and communities are set up for lasting success. Young people will be able to thrive and achieve no matter where they’re from or where they go on to.

The Long Run has already raised over $1800. Thanks to all who have contributed. We can do more; please chip in if you can for the young people who are the future of California.


Susan Leone Starr said...

What a great read, what a great cause, what a great woman.

Bob Baldock said...

Count in Kathleen the poet and me own self. Both love you both.

Michael Strickland said...

Happy birthday, Marathon Woman. You look happy.

Rebecca Gordon said...

So proud and happy to be your EP. (And I don't mind at all that "EP" also stands for "extended play." That's what these years together have been for me!

Hattie said...

Such determination! You are both fantastic!

Rain Trueax said...

Happy birthday yesterday and how great you can run a marathon. Good going.

Darlene Costner said...

Good for you, Jan. I never could have made 5 miles, much less 50. I am in awe.

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