Friday, September 23, 2016

Almost Halfway (in sha'allah)

I am on my way to Seattle, where I will rent a car and drive to Bellingham, WA to run the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon. The registration was a Christmas gift from Erica. This is the third race she has gotten me for Christmas. The others were in two of the most beautiful places in the American West. One was Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada and the other was Bryce Canyon, Utah. Both were stunning.

I am a bit superstitious about some things, so I am almost afraid to start writing about this weekend’s race before I have run it.  I have always been superstitious in this particular way—I fear that assuming a particular thing will happen--and then stating that assumption out loud--somehow calls the Universe’s attention to my stupid human hubris and makes it far more likely that the Universe will take pains to prove me wrong.

When I was 21 and moved to Yemen I found an entire nation that had my same superstition. Only, theirs was part of their religion and came out in the phrase in sha’allah.  I was teaching English in Yemen and if I said to my students “You will have a test next Tuesday” they would quietly append the words “in sha’allah.”
If I said to my landlord Mohammed “I will live here in your apartment next year, too” he would say “in sha’allah.”

It means “if Allah wills” and it is meant as a reminder that everything is in the hands of someone or something else. To state something with certainty is seen as sacrilege.

Given all of this, I feel compelled to qualify the things I will write here about this weekend’s race. Indulge me?

So, IF my plane makes it to Seattle on time and IF my rental car gets me safely to Bellingham, and IF I actually complete the race Sunday morning, that will make 25 states I will have run a half marathon in. It will mean I am halfway to my goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states.

You know what?  This already feels like I am tempting fate. I was about to write a whole bunch more about some of my favorite memories from some of the past races and about some of the things running has taught me. But I just can’t do it.

IF all goes well, I will write more on Sunday as I take the red-eye home, in sha’allah.