It occurred to me yesterday that what I’m about to do is going to be intense. Not only will I be running 6.2 miles farther than I’ve ever run before, but I’ll also be running for the first time in a week. I’ve been having some foot and calf muscle issues for the past couple week and opted to let my body rest (in a manner of speaking – I have, of course, been walking a lot of miles every day). I’ll be running for somewhere between five and a half and six hours, which is longer than some of the shifts I used to work at Starbucks! I’ll be running “with” thousands of people who run a lot faster than me, and the winner of the race will finish at least three hours before I do. I’ll have a lot of opportunities for self-doubt and discouragement, so I figured it might be helpful to make a list of all the reasons I’m doing this.
Most of that list is too personal to share with the world at large. It has a lot to do with my personal and spiritual growth over the past several years, and what’s important is that it affirmed for me that I want to do this. When I’m out there tomorrow, starting in the last corral and trailing behind thousands of men (this is a very male-heavy race, and you’ll note my number distinguishes me as “F” for female ((it’s even pink!)), I’m going to be able to remember that this has nothing to do with any of them. I’m doing this for me and all the amazing people in my life who have offered and continue to provide me with their support – most of whom are thousands and thousands of miles away from here. What all those other people on the course tomorrow are doing only matters in the sense that we share a common goal, no matter how or why we are coming to it.
The first thing I wrote on my list was that I’m doing this because it’s something that I never thought I would be able to or would even want to do. Sitting in my AirBnB room with less than 12 hours until the start, I still can’t quite believe that it’s really here.
I started running in September of 2012 because I was about to turn 30 and decided I wanted to be able to run a 5k. It’s something I felt I should be able to do as a healthy adult. And I hated running. I couldn’t run a quarter of a mile without wanting to die. It made me angry and frustrated and tired. It made me feel out of shape and oafish. It was hard. And it sucked. And I did it anyway.
I don’t know when things changed. It may not have really been until after my first half marathon last August. But somewhere in the last year, I began to find joy in running. I still fall into the trap of comparing myself to others all too often. I still have a lot of painful confrontations with my own ego. But when it’s just me and the road and my iPod and my breath, I feel an intense connection to the universe that sometimes lets me forget all the bullshit I tend to cloud my head with. And I want to take that with me tomorrow.
Trite though it sounds, I want to show myself and the world that virtually anything is possible; it just takes a decision and a tremendous amount of faith. Faith in oneself, faith in others, and faith that the universe is a truly marvelous place. So in addition to my energy gels and electrolyte pills and GPS watch and sport headphones and custom insoles and all manner of expensive paraphernalia, I’m planning to take that faith with me, too. It’s sure worth a lot more than any of that other fancy crap.
(Even though I am undeniably attached to all that fancy crap.)