On Saturday, May 3, I ran a half marathon in Indianapolis. I’m not going to get into the specifics of training or go on (too much) about how difficult it is to run that many miles because honestly, yes it’s a lot of miles, but it’s not 26.2. I have this habit of always remembering that what’s bad could always be worse. Keeps me in a more grateful state of mind. Anyhoo, I did train and I prepped myself as much as someone who’s never run a half marathon before could possibly prep. My body was definitely ready for the run. However, I was not t prepared for the flood of thoughts I’d have throughout the run, how emotional I would be, or how much I’d learn about myself. I finished the race in 2:27:04. Not too shabby for a 41-year-old first timer. Strangely, as I got closer to the finish I began to think that I could definitely pull off 26.2. I am now trying to decide which 26.2 to run. In Indy, I saw some awe-inspiring people along the way. Firefighters in full gear. Military personnel in boots and carrying full packs. A man running on a prosthetic leg. A woman in a wheelchair. All driven by a desire to get to the finish…I was pretty much left in awe of humanity, because I will tell you, we are pretty amazing when we set out to do good things…our grit. Our determination. So beautiful! I know if you’re reading this you have a dream or a goal…something you’d like to accomplish. I’m telling you, DO IT. NOW. Believe me when I say, YOU CAN.
One of the things I’ve been pondering lately is the role fear plays in my life, and how it affects the decisions I make, especially the decisions that are life changing. I was scrolling Pinterest a few days ago and I saw this quote:
Everything? Really? Because there are some things that I want that have absolutely nothing to do with being afraid. For example, I would like the laundry to magically wash, dry, fold and put itself away without ANY effort on my part. Laundry is exhausting! And it’s NEVER done. I have no fear of laundry, unless of course, I haven’t been able to get to it in over a week and I know that the mountain of clothes gathered in the laundry room will be damn near insurmountable!
I realize that I have taken the quote out of context but I do it to show how silly some of the quotes we take to heart and use to guide our lives can be. Is the quote important, sure. Should it be a guidepost for some of the struggles we face in our lives, sure. Does it apply to every aspect of our lives, no. My point in all of this is that there has to be some line, some balance, some critical thought so that we can apply this wisdom to our lives in a way that makes sense and is actionable. I see a lot of quotes pinned on Pinterest. I am guilty of pinning a number of quotes that I read and think “Wow, so true!” and then never really think about again. I am almost positive the majority of chronic quote pinners are guilty of the same. But, back to fear.
I thought I’d try to take this quote and make it actionable by applying it to some of the concrete life decisions I am faced with over the coming months. One is applying for a position at my job that requires me to speak in front of a room full of strangers. I HATE public speaking and I am sure that places me squarely on the bell curve of the majority of people reading this. I am no outlier when it comes to speaking in front of people I don’t know. I’d rather not. But the fact is, I have a dream I’d like to see come true (a higher paying job with unlimited potential), and speaking in front of strangers is a stepping stone toward that dream. I’m scared shitless to be honest. But I did it. I applied to the position because in this case, something I want (not everything because my laundry still lies waiting for ME in the laundry room) IS on the other side of fear. And in all honesty, if I let fear continue to guide the decisions I make, well, I’m fucked. You can only move forward if you push through your fear. Words of wisdom made actionable. That’s how life changes.
I’ve been running for about 2 years now, and average about 3 and a half miles per run on any given day. Today I started training for a half marathon I am running this May, and as I was on the treadmill trying to push through my first wall (for me, I always hit the first wall after the first mile; for some reason, my legs get heavy and just don’t want to “go” anymore) a certain song came on. I told myself right then “just get through the song and you’ll be OK”. So I did. I dug in and I ran for the entire song, listening to the notes, the lyrics, and pushing through the wall. When the song was over, guess what? I was OK, just like I told myself. Best of all, another song came on, and I dug in again and again. One song at a time…
I realized this concept can be applied to any situation that requires movement. Choose a song, and do a chosen activity for just as long as the song plays. As you become better able to cope with the aerobic demands of say, walking for one song, then move up to two, then three songs and more. If organizing is your goal, begin with one task (cleaning out a junk drawer for example) and work for just one song. Then another, then another. Choose music you love. Music that motivates you and makes you want to get up and MOVE. That’s an important part of the process. I don’t think playing R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” is my thing in terms of motivation, but it might be for you, and if it is, then get up and MOVE to it.
I plan to continue to use this idea to just push through with a song during my training. I’m taking note of the artists, lyrics and sounds that increase my motivation and give me the fire I need to push through when I hit a wall. Today at the gym, that song I mentioned, the one I heard through my headphones as I struggled just after the one mile mark, was Make Me Proud by Drake. Listening to some (definitely not all, because well, damn…) of the lyrics, reminded me of the things I have done that I am proud of. I’ve set lots of goals and made lots of plans in my life. I failed at some, but hey, I have also succeeded at MANY. I am proud of my accomplishments. And I will continue to work to “make me proud” as life goes on. Half-marathon, here I come, and cheesy as it may be, I’m gonna KILL it, one song at a time!