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Bird's Nest: Welcome to the nest
May 11, 2010 - Amanda Bird
Welcome to the Bird’s Nest, a collection of who’s, what’s and where’s.
The Adirondacks has been home to me for the last decade as I traveled to and from the park for various adventures. Lake Placid became my permanent address just three years ago when I moved to the area for my job.
My business card reads:
I’d need a foldable business card longer than Santa’s list to summarize who and what I am. I’m also an animal lover who believes in magic and in winning the lottery. As soon as Mega Millions reaches more than $100 million, I start buying two chances instead of one and map out my travels across the world. I started crossing off High Peaks last summer on my way to reaching the summit of all 46 and have paddled many of the ponds, lakes, rivers and streams in the Adirondacks.
I collect books and arrange them on my shelf based on what characters I think would get along best, imagining that they creep across their pages to speak to each other when no one is around. I love the smell of rain and have two pairs of polka dot rain boots that I wear to splash around in when puddles accumulate, but I shriek with fear when lightening streaks across the sky. Spiders gross me out, and I don’t like my belly button or my elbow creases touched.
So what are the whos, whats and wheres of the Bird’s Nest? Hiking, history of the Adirondack Park, paddling, weekend getaways, relationship joys and woes, local events, Olympics sports, etc. You get the point. Caution, this blog most definitely contains nuts.
I spent several years competing on the U.S. National Skeleton Team, and while I don’t consider myself an adrenaline junkie, I do consider myself a challenge junkie. I don’t live inside the box, but thrive while pushing the limits and destroying barriers until shapes no longer exist and only possibilities remain.
I spent years training for speed, and running anything more than 10 seconds seemed absurd. After retiring from the team I spent time wandering the world and was just as content sitting on the couch with a tub of ice cream as I was meandering through the woods for a walk.
I was living a run-on sentence until a period was dropped into my story.
My two-year-old niece was diagnosed with leukemia. I don’t think anyone else felt it, but the world shifted. Really, I felt it move right beneath my feet. Every step I took after learning about her diagnosis felt a little heavier and a little less important.
I stumbled across a quote from American writer John Andrew Holmes, Jr. that made me think a little harder about those steps. He wrote, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
I didn’t know how to reach down and lift her up. I didn’t know how to do anything to make things better. I took each step and decided to make them two and three steps until the next thing I knew I was running.
I vividly remember a stormy afternoon that I ran up Cobble Hill. My shoes made a sucking sound as they sank into and released from the mud. Rain danced between the leaves, falling onto my forehead and mixing with my tears. I was too focused on the claps of thunder to worry about the sound of my pounding heart. When I finally felt tired, exhausted even, I just kept going. I was nearly sobbing as I neared the top, and I was bargaining with some greater being that I would run and run and run if it meant for at least one day my niece didn’t have to look up at my brother and ask, “Why do I have to take so many pills daddy, I don’t want to.”
I continued to run and I’m still running. I’ve joined the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training and will be running the Lake Placid Half Marathon in June to raise money for research.
I used to watch the race from my window with my feet propped up, wondering what in the world all of those people were thinking out there as they ran a little over 13 miles. Bikes are faster, you know. Heck, cars are even faster.
Now I get it. Whenever I’m on the road suffering with blistered feet and lungs that can’t seem to take in enough air, I always see someone else out there with me. Ponytail girl always smiles, shuffle-with-his-arms-out guy gives a nod and a wave, while Mr. Athlete never fails to lift two fingers in salute.
I belong to something I never knew existed. There’s a community of us out there running, biking, doing. Some of us are bargaining with greater beings, some of us are trying to get healthier, and some of us just like to run. Whatever your reason, I salute you and look forward to nodding hello on my next venture on the road.
“Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week,” said English writer and actor Richard O’Brien. “It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too.”
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