Things that run, reveal, inspire by Hayley Strandberg

Things that run, reveal, and inspire

By Hayley Strandberg @ www.chalkboardsandsandcastles.wordpress.com

One of the things I like most about running is that it doesn’t require a lot of things.  All you really need is a pair of running shoes. It is the best sport for minimalists.

Once you start running regularly, however, it’s easy to get caught up in the stuff, and once you start training for a marathon, it’s even easier to start buying extras – fancy watches, socks, bras, etc. I’ve certainly made my share of unnecessary trips to local sporting goods stores.

When I was getting suited up to run the ING NYC marathon earlier this month, I made the bold decision to leave the deluxe water belt that I had trained with at home. I had started to feel that the belt was weighing me down. At first, I loved the belt because it stayed secure just above my hips and made me feel like a serious runner. But a month before the race, I found myself fidgeting with the belt a lot, wanting to take it off but anxious to lose easy access to water. Though it had been giving me problems, the belt was a kind of security blanket that I didn’t want to let go of.

In a pair of sunglasses, running shoes and a Mod Mom Furniture t-shirt I ran the best race of my life, finishing the 26.2 in 3:57. I didn’t need the belt at all and received all of the water and Gatorade I needed from the thousands of volunteers and spectators that came out to support and help. I received even more than I imagined from smiling Brooklyn five-year-olds and affectionate Manhattan canines.

“Go Hayley, Go Traci!” the crowds cheered directly to me and my friend, who wisely decided we should put our names on our shirts. The first 13 miles didn’t even feel like a marathon, we discussed after. The energy of the spectators seemed to magically propel us toward the finish (at least for a while - at mile 25 we breathlessly watched Mario Lopez blow past us). I had never felt so close to strangers or so much part of a city as I did that day.

In the photo above, Traci and I proudly sport our finisher’s medals. For the next day, I was reluctant to take the medal off. I had worked so hard, and it made my achievement concrete. I also love that it’s something that connects Traci and I with the 48,000 runners that raced that day.

I’m not sure where the medal is now. But a few weeks after the race, my finish still feels sweet. I took off the medal and have spent the past few weeks living a life that feels strange and unfamiliar because I’m no longer training for a big race. But it also feels nice, light and full of possibility.

Since the marathon, I’ve gone to a few concerts, tried new restaurants and recipes, and got caught up with The Good Wife. I’ve been dreaming of getting a dog and learning how to play the guitar. I started writing a novel. Last Sunday, I sat down with a Sunday New York Times for two hours.

Sometimes, opening up new possibilities means making space – moving things around, leaving things at home, and putting things away.

Other times, opening up new possibilities means creating space — bringing things together, making things at home, and putting on a tool belt.

Kiersten Parsons Hathcock, Los Angeles-based owner of Mod Mom Furniture, constructs possibility for a living. Her beautiful, contemporary toy boxes invite wonder. They are playful, functional, sophisticated and innovative.

A self-taught designer and carpenter, Kiersten created a thriving business from her garage. With fierce determination and inspiring imagination, she’s carved out a life and a product that are, quite literally, full of possibility. In New York, I proudly wore a MMF shirt across the finish line and am convinced its Mod Mom magic helped me dig deep into my potential to get there.

I’ve been reading a lot of minimalist blogs recently that have made me skeptical of the things that surround me. “You don’t need things” the bloggers say.

It’s true – there are few things in life that we really need and it can be liberating to get rid of things we don’t need. But like Kiersten’s furniture, things are beautiful products of the human hand and spirit.  Literature’s most famous castaway Robinson Crusoe naturally took to making things. It was making pottery that helped Crusoe survive in solitude for 28 years; there’s something primal about the creating things.

Things, in turn, seem to reveal something essential about us. Perhaps the things that create the most problems are those that don’t seem reveal something about us, those things that have become estranged from those who have created them or those who most need them.

I’ve put my running shoes away for a few weeks, but they will come out of the closet soon. My feet are starting to wonder where they will run next.

*****  Read more from Hayley at http://chalkboardsandsandcastles.wordpress.com/ *****