My Friend, Riri, sends me her blog links with in-depth and profoundly appreciative reflections regarding the many ‘New York Road Runners’ races that we have run together. I love her amazingly beautiful writing and I am always inspired by her! Thank you, Riri.

Her recent reflections are about the NY Half Marathon that we ran on March 19th, I wrote to tell her, that if I did a blog on my own training and running challenges, it would probably be much different from hers. And she said, “Do a blog”.

Once I read that Josei Toda, the second president of The Soka Gakkai (a lay Buddhist peace organization of which I am a proud member), tried over and over to send back the copy of ‘The Lotus Sutra’ that he had acquired while enduring imprisonment as a “thought criminal” in Japan in the 1940's.

He tried sending back the copy of the book, but it returned to him again and again.

My experience with setting up this blog is similar in a small way. I kept trying to delete my account — but it wouldn’t go away.

So here I am. It’s April/4 in 2017 and I am about to share my reflections of the recent New York Half Marathon, like Riri did. (You can read hers here: https://www.ririnagao.com/united-airlines-nyc-half-2017/)

After starting the month of March with a 5K race in freezing cold, I got on an early flight out of JFK the next morning for my 4th visit to my birth mother.

I stayed 2 days, and the day I returned home was also the anniversary of my adoptive mom’s passing — March 8th. As a matter of fact, I think it might also be the anniversary of the passing of my biological father — but I have only pieces of information about him, and my birth mother isn’t comfortable talking about him.

While I was visiting my birth mom, I got a call from a casting agent and was offered a gig working as a stand in for an A-list actress in a new movie.

I sat in for her in a scene where she would be a therapist. So, for four days, I’m in the head space: “I’m a therapist”. And then on my last day of work, I was the stand in for another actress who had a scene in a delivery room giving birth.

I’m not sure how long I was there with my legs in the stirrups, while the crew rehearsed lighting and camera moves, but I knew I had a half marathon the next morning and had no idea if this was going to wreck me or heal some deep ptsd-type stuff lurking in my (and my mother’s) world, for being given up for adoption as an infant.

All of it seemed very Mystic.

The work hours that week were long, and the shoes I wore had heels. Somewhere in the middle of the week, we had a New York blizzard — which made for some unique cross-training as I managed walking over giant snow banks. But, the bottom line is — I had not done much physical training for this upcoming 13.1 mile race.

The long-awaited New York Half Marathon was the next day. I was hoping the director would need me for work again on that day — that would help me justify blowing off the race and I would go to work instead — but no . . . no work for me that day — so, of course, no choice either.

I swiped my metro card before the crack of dawn that morning and headed to the race start. Then, the National Anthem, a few congratulatory words, the starting horn, and off we went. . . around Central Park, through Manhattan, along the river facing into the wind, and towards Wall Street.

All along the way, were volunteers and folks with cheers and encouragement. (Except maybe the drivers, who have enough annoyance with midtown traffic — now they had to deal with 20,000 runners!)

I wasn’t anywhere near hitting the time I had imagined for myself and I had to stop a couple of times to work out cramps in my calf. I remember seeing someone holding a sign that read, “Where the F**k is the finish line”?

My thoughts exactly.

But then there was this long dark tunnel and it was cool and private and I enjoyed it — and when we came out — there was light and nothing left to do but crank up what I had left and get across that finish line!

And I did!

I always ask the volunteers on the other side of the finish line if they will bestow the finishers medal around my neck, rather than just hand it to me.

I like to bow to them. And it makes me feel like a winner.”

***********************************************************

Recently, I’ve been thinking about stories I’ve read of Josei Toda’s experiences in prison. A major turning point occurred in early March, 1944. He had been chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo over and over. And he had been studying the Lotus Sutra.

At critical point, he had a realization that Buddha is “Life Itself.” To some scholars, it is considered one of two major events that Mr. Toda experienced while in prison and are thought of as the birth of modern Buddhism.

The more recent run was a 4 mile race on April 1st. The t-shirt for the event had a picture of lungs on it — RUN TO BREATHE . . . .

I couldn’t sleep well on race day morning. I woke up around 2:30 AM and decided to chant. I chanted from 3 -4 AM, enjoyed the race in Central Park and finished with no problem.

But on the subway ride home, I read a Facebook post on my phone, that said my friend, Delmar, had just passed away an hour or so before.

I started to cry. I cried like the rainstorm we’d had all day the day before. Cried with my bottom lip out as far as a front porch. I cried and heaved and tried to hide my face behind my yellow kerchief. My cry felt so deep that I could hardly breathe. “RUN TO BREATHE”.

I still can’t talk about Delmar now, but since I’m going to continue blogging and thinking of “Life Itself” while training for the NY Marathon in November, I will surely say more about his impact on my life as I continue.

****************************************************************

This Sunday is April 9th. My dad’s birthday. And I’m running a race for a ‘Healthy Kidney’ foundation.

My dad played drums, and sang, and loved dancing and life. But as a young man, he was injured playing football with friends and was diagnosed as having cancer.

I remember he had purple burn marks on his belly and back from the radiation treatments. But it turned out that he didn’t have cancer.

He had a third kidney that had been kicked and damaged during the football game. The radiation itself is what caused him more pain than he ever showed, and certainly more fear than he would ever let us know.

When he died at age 62, and an autopsy was performed, it was said that the thing that had kept him alive this long was nothing but “sheer will”.

And so, in 5 more days, on Sunday, on his birthday, I will run the 10K kidney race.

I hope to go out for brunch afterwards at a place near Washington Park. My friend, Marilyn, is singing there and she is dedicating her performance to Delmar.

My personal determination is to strengthen my will and discipline and get back on track with my work in music. I have been street performing continuously, but I can’t even remember the last gig I did with a band!

***************************************************************

There’s another race on the 23rd, to ‘run as one’ and raise money and to support lung cancer awareness and research.

And, to complete this month of April, on the 30th is another half-marathon. The Women’s Shape half!

Thanks again to Riri, for getting me writing and blogging. Here is a quote from my mentor, Daisaku Ikeda. I believe it comes from April 10, 2015 issue of “World Tribune”:

“Life is like a marathon. There may be days of painful adversity. There may be times when others outpace you in some way, causing you to feel anxious and distressed. But that’s no reason to give up. All you need to do is win in the end. Keep running forward, with tenacious persistence and determination, on the path you have chosen and vowed to follow, continuing until you cross the glorious finish line! Those who complete the course at their own pace will be crowned with the laurels of victory.”… Daisaku Ikeda

Like what you read? Give Bethany Wild a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.