Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So, I finally did it. I ran the Boston Marathon.

I qualified to run the marathon back on Decenber 20th of 2009 at the Jacksonville LaSalle Bank Marathon. At the time, running meant something very different to me than it means to me now. I ran to escape demons, I ran from my problems, I ran to avoid life. Since that day, my life has changed drastically and I have changed, as well. One year, 3 months, and 28 days later, I stood at the starting line to the Boston Marathon not sure what to expect from my mind, from my body, from the course...

In all the races I have ever run, of any distance, I have never trekked to the start line solo and stood in the mass of people virtually alone. As Mark put me on the bus out to Hopkinton, I was all too aware that failure was looming in front of me. I did not train for this race..... We had been vacationing for five days prior..... I had tasted every beer in New England..... I ate indian food for the first time the night before(I Know, I know!)..... I had no fuel with me..... I had never practiced waking up at 5 am to run at 10:20..... I was wearing a brand new shirt.....I had no idea where Mark might be on the course, if he could even get there at all. At best, I hoped to make it to mile 10 before the death march began (or the violent stomache pains...indian food...). As I waved one last time to Mark, I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. I was already losing. Every fear of failure that ever existed was creeping into my head.

Maybe I really have grown as a person? Maybe finally being willing to share not only my joys, but my collosal failures with the people around me has truly changed me? Maybe surrounding myself with a group of friends and a wonderful boyfriend who not only challenge me daily but love me unconditionally has really made a ton of difference? All I know for sure is that, my mental heckling did no more than scratch the shiny surface of my armor. I was here, and dammit this was going to be an awesome day. No matter what the outcome, I could either choose to submit and be miserable or I could put a grin on my face and remember that I could never again relive this day. So, I set a new goal.
"You will smile every step of the way. No matter what happens, a smile will be on your face and you will take in everything this day has to offer. Period" And that became my mantra for the day.

I smiled the entire way. I looked like a moron, essentially. But you know what? I had a damn good time and I took mental pictures that will never ever fade from my memory. I didn't log my best time ever, but I wasn't far off and I have never had more fun running a race in all my years of racing. I walked away from the Boston Marathon with a renewed confidence. I have no doubt in my mind that had I let the fear of failure creep into my mind, I would have ended up walking; I would have ended the race miserable. Not because my body couldn't do it, but because my own mind wouldn't let me.

I say all of that to say this:

If you are not failing at something, you are not challenging yourself. And if you are seeing that failure as a reason to stop moving forward, you are missing the big picture. I haven't always known this. As a matter of fact, I still don't know this every day. It is hard to remember in the face of adversity that every outcome has a purpose in your life. I look back over a lifetime of seeming "failures" and I see it differently these days. I see that I was brave enough to not stand still for one second, to not be paralyzed by impossibility. I see that I never have and (Godwilling) never will settle for "just ok." I would be stupid not to see that just this change in perspective isn't yet another blessing in my life. I would be even stupider not to mention that Super Mark and all the wonderful people that challenge me with new perspective every single day have been a driving force in shaping me. And for that, I am supremely grateful. Even with all the contentment I have finally found, I hope I never find a day where I am willing to stop striving for more out of life.

Super Mark sent me this link yesterday:

It's a great post about challenging life and constantly striving to be a better person :-)

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Little Crap in the Yard Makes the Grass Greener...

There is a risk in loving someone; they are not perfect, you are not perfect. And when you make the decision to close your eyes and jump all in, to take down every wall, to let someone see you, you risk the very core of your soul. I have not loved someone in a looooong time. I have had a black heart for a looooog time, one with walls so high that no light could reach it. I have not trusted another person, fully and completely, enough to allow them access to the soft, squishy center of my soul since I was very young. I have been abandoned in my life by friends and lovers, by family. I have been trampled on, taken advantage of, thrown to the ground, made fun of, denigrated. I have been told I was worthless and I have felt even more so. I have made decisions that hurt myself and hurt others, I have failed more than I have succeeded. I suppose, in reality, I deserve nothing more than gut punches and bad karma.

Somehow, by the grace of the very God I have scorned, I have been blessed to be able to see all of my shortcomings in full light. I have been given the camera to my own soul and seen myself for what I was. I have been given the strength and courage to face it and change it. I have never been spared the consequences of my actions, something I once saw as an injustice, but now see as a blessing. I was unable to love and scared to trust.

Until this past year...

Perhaps the very strength of truly loving someone is being cut deep and letting the wounds heal stronger? I'm really not quite sure. I often feel the demons of past hurt tugging at me, pulling me back to the blackness that is so comfortable, yet so barren and unforgiving. I am afraid of becoming that person again but I am also afraid of how unprotected my heart is... I have paid so dearly before. And yet, here I stand, my soul is naked in front of my friends, my family, Mark. I refuse to hide behind false pretenses ever again. I refuse to not ask the hard questions both of myself and of others. And, I refuse to believe that life is some great cosmic poker game where each side is constantly seeking to expose the weakness of the other. It takes two to play and I folded.

Last night, Mark and I did something I've never actually done before. We wrote out goals-- individual goals and team goals, goals for our fitness endeavors, our finances, our personal growth. It was a fascinating experience to sit and verbalize to another person where I fall short and how I want to improve. Historically, I've not been quite so reflective. Afraid of all the crap I would see, I preferred to set goals that were easily achievable for me but impressive to others. The last year, though, has really taught me that the very things I have been afraid to "see" are the exact things that have landed me squarely where I am right now. The grass is greener today not because I got rid of all the crap but because I finally let it do its job. I let it fertilize my soul. I finally let my life blossom from the filth. Sure, it's stinky and dirty and imperfect, but in time, the whole thing will be covered with the beautiful moments and all that will be left are the lessons of yet another not so perfect life.

I will continue to give myself completely to this not so perfect life, I will continue to be "naked" in front of others, and I will continue to remember that every weakness is also a strength, every strength also a weakness.

So, watch your step and feel free to stop and smell the roses :-)