The Resolute Quitter

Someone once told me that to write I need to write about what I know. Luckily that’s all I know how to write about anyway.

In the past four years I’ve quit every thing I’ve started. You name it, I’ve attempted it…and then quit. Run streaks? I quit by week two. Running? I used to run 25 – 30 miles a week, and now I’m lucky if I even walk two. I’ve signed up (and wasted a LOT of money) on countless 5Ks, half marathons, and marathons only to quit about half way through…when I had decided that it got too hard. Being more environmental? I’m pretty sure I threw away a pile of paper yesterday instead of recycling it because the recycling was full and I just needed it out of my house. Hell, I’ve even quit my marriage. At this point the only thing I haven’t quit is my job, but I did switch schools so maybe that counts?

I wasn’t always this way. As a matter of fact, I used to be exactly the opposite. I would make a plan and resolutely stick with it, no matter the consequence or if it was the best decision in the long run. I was just that stubborn. I would see it through to the end even if it killed me. I used to think this was one of my biggest character flaws, but now I’m not so sure. The tenacity that would once push me over the finish line has now been replaced with apathy and indifference. I would do anything to get it back.

Maybe I’ve spent so much time quitting lately that it’s just what seems normal and comfortable now. I’m used to it. It’s familiar. It’s has the feeling of that soft, comfy shirt that is completely stained and threadbare. You need to throw it away. You want to throw it away. And yet, you can’t bring yourself to do it. As if parting with that one thing is going to increase your sadness even more than it already is.

Fear has become such a major part of my life over the past few years that it is literally ingrained in my soul. The fear of failure keeps me from making the big leaps. The fear of judgment keeps me from making the choices I know I need to make, the choices that are the best for me. Fear of retribution keeps me on my feet at all times…constantly looking over my shoulder and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve spent so much of the last few years of my life being scared that I have barely lived at all. I’ve made so many goals and had so many things I want to accomplish which have all been brushed aside because of fear. And I don’t want to do that anymore.

If you know me at all, you know I love New Year’s. The blank slate, the new beginnings, the chance to start again all resonate with me on a deeply pure and spiritual level. I tend to make resolutions, grandiose goals, and big decisions all to have me eventually quit. I just can’t keep living my life like that anymore. I think this year I’m going to dump the resolutions. The changes I want to make within myself are big. Every single thing I want to change about myself I can control. And I don’t need resolutions or a New Year to do that. I can just do it. Plain and simple. It’s really that easy.

Of course, coming up with the idea to do something is the easy part. The hard part is the follow through…and that’s exactly what I plan to work on first.

The other day, as we were driving through the city on the way home, two runners crossed in front of our car. Joe’s immediate response was about how it was cold and they were outside running and that they were wearing shorts. It’s true, it was about 25 degrees…it was cold. But all I felt was the formidable tug of nostalgia. I remember thinking that I wish I was a runner. Or more clearly, I wish I was still a runner.

So you know what? I’m going to become one again.

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From the old to the new

I got my haircut today.  And registered to run the NYC marathon.  Two things that really needed to happen.

While my haircut is pretty great, we all know this isn’t what this post is about.

I earned my guaranteed entry by deferring my entrance from last year to this year.  Last year I wasn’t ready.  I thought getting in by lottery would make me ready.  It didn’t.  Life happened.  And then more life.  I stopped running. I stopped trying.  I stopped everything.

But now things are different.  I’m still not ready for this marathon.  Not by a long shot.  I’ll be one of those last finishers that everyone waits for, but I don’t care.  I’ll do it anyway and be proud of any amount of time it takes me.  Going from zero to marathon is no small feat.  I know this.

I knew my guaranteed entry was coming but I hesitated signing up again.  I would think yes, then no, then yes again, then no again…I think you get the picture.  Then the lottery opened and my emailed arrived confirming what I already knew.  And still I waited.  After posting on social media about how I was unsure of which decision to make my friends and complete strangers encouraged me: it’s a once in a life time opportunity, don’t hesitate – just do it, I have faith in you.  The words resonated with me so much and I began to think maybe I could do this.  Maybe I could “run” a marathon.

But still…I waited.  $295 dollars is no small amount of money and for someone who is paying the bills in two households, it’s more than I can waste.  What if I chickened out again?  What if the self-doubt and fear overtakes me?   What if I really can’t do it?  That’s a lot of money to flush down the drain.

And then, on whim, on a random Thursday night, I sold my old engagement ring.  A ring I had picked out and essentially paid for myself.  A ring that represented a marriage and a union that no longer existed.  A ring that was bought for a person who no longer exists.  I didn’t get a lot for it.  Not nearly as much as we paid for it almost 16 years ago.  But you know what it was enough to cover?  An entry fee to the NYC marathon as well as some left over (training gear, perhaps?).

With a few clicks of a button it was done, and I was registered, letting a piece of who I once was turn me into someone I know I can be.

NYC 2018…here I come.

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Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  I usually try and shy away from it as it tends to make me sad.  I sugar coat the past at times, putting the shiny crystal sheen on things making me think I had it better when, in actuality, I probably didn’t. Charleston, kid free times, college – all things I think back on fondly, wishing I was still there in those moments, never really remembering the times that weren’t so good.

Today, though, was different.

I’ve been contemplating the idea of accepting my guaranteed entry to the NYC marathon since I dropped out last year.  I told myself that maybe this was the year I would *actually* do it if I could just take the first step and get out the door to exercise.  Today made three days in a row and I’m pretty damn proud of myself for that.

Today is cold.  And snowy.  But I managed to get the workout clothes on and out the front door to run/walk/jog/slide for 30 minutes.

As I began navigating the neighbor streets where I now live, the neighborhood streets where I lived years ago when I first began running, the nostalgia was overpowering.  This is where it all began…my love for running.  The shiny beacon in an otherwise tumultuous time in my life where I could barely stay afloat.  And then out of the blue “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey came on and my heart stopped.

This could be the fall of 2013 when I first started running.  That song took me right back to those moments so many years ago.  The early mornings and sore legs.  The darkness of running pre-dawn.  The excitement I felt when I ran down certain streets and crested certain hills and the annoyance I felt with others.

Not only did I fall in love with running on these streets and sidewalks, for the first time I actually fell in love with myself.

This girl.

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And this one.

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The girl who completed her first Runner’s World Run Streak.

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And her first half marathon.

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The girl who was happiest and had the biggest smile when completely covered in sweat.

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This wasn’t the same kind of nostalgia that I was used to.  It wasn’t so much remembering what I had as discovering what I can absolutely have again.

With this short 30 minutes this morning I began to realize that maybe I never lost my love of running or even myself.  Maybe it’s always been here.  In this neighborhood.  On these streets, waiting for me to return.  Because this is where I belong.

This is for all the lonely people…

“Being alone is very difficult.” ~Yoko Ono

Marathon training is not only hard, but it’s lonely.  I don’t think it’s something you can truly understand until you go through it yourself.  I have friends that have run marathons so I thought I got it.  I most certainly did not.

I remember being out with friends, begging them to have one more drink, one more bite, one more anything, and scoffing when they said they couldn’t.  Of course they can, I thought.   They’re just being (insert word here).  And of course, that’s when you could get them out at night.  Because most times, you can’t. Now I know, though, that you can’t eat one more bite, because it might be the thing that puts you over the edge during your run that evening.  And you can’t always have another drink or go out at all because you have to get up at 4 am to run X number of miles.

I know all this now.  And it sucks.

What I need is someone to say “Let’s stay in and watch a movie tonight because I know you have a long run tomorrow.”  Or “Here, have some water with lemon to hydrate for your run in the morning.” Or how about someone to tell me to put down the fucking cupcake or smack the Ritz crackers out of my hand.

But I don’t have a person like that.  I don’t have a partner in crime for this adventure.

It’s hard to go through this alone and I wish, now, I would have been more understanding of my friends that have gone through it before me.

Balance is key, in all aspects of training, and I have to admit I’m doing a terrible job.  I’m either too serious or not serious enough.  Eating everything in the house or nothing at all.  Running all the miles or hardly any.

And now that I’m injured, I am feeling all of this times 10.  I know I need to rest, but I know I can’t not run.  And no one gets it.

It’s officially 100 days until the marathon.  I just have to make it through and then everything will go back to normal, right?

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And so we begin

“I dare you to train for a marathon, and not have it change your life.”  ~Susan Sidoriak

Tomorrow’s the day. The day I take a breath. The day I move on. The day I continue moving forward. The day I put the past behind me.  The day I emerge from the ashes that is my mistakes.  The day I work for what I want. The day I make my plans a reality.

Tomorrow’s the day I begin training for the TCS New York City Marathon.  It’s going to be hard.  It’s going to be rough, on both me and the ones closest to me. It’s going to be life changing and that’s what I’m counting on.

I’m excited and petrified.  I’m ready and not ready. I’m worried and surprisingly calm.  I’m all this and more.  I’m a myriad of emotions I don’t even have words for.

Tomorrow’s the day…the day I become who I was meant to become.

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From Where I Sit.

“Your life is your message to the world.  Make sure it’s inspiring.”

I sometimes forget people are watching.  I sometimes get so wrapped up in myself that I forget there are other people in the world.  Not only do I forget that I’m being watched, but I forget that people in my life are watching me critically, with eyes open wide to take it all in.  The things I do on an everyday basis are being scooped up by the people, both big and small, and I’m making lasting impressions.

This morning I came downstairs in my ratty running clothes.   The beauty of being on maternity leave is that I don’t ever really have to look nice, especially if I’m not going anywhere during the day. But after I got the kids some breakfast and settled with a short (educational, I promise!) show I walked over the the bookshelf and grabbed my headphones.

“Oh!  Are you going for your run, mom?”

It hit me, just from that one little sentence, how many things in our life just get NOTICED.  Just from that sentence I learned that my 4 year old notices my running and he realizes that it’s a habit (grabbing headphones  = running).  In his own way I think he also realizes how important it is to me (your run).

I was thinking about this as I left the house and started on my way.  A few houses down I saw a neighbor walking his dog.  He’s the kind of neighbor that we’ve said say hi in passing, but we’ve never really spoken.  As I passed him he says. “I was wondering when you were going to get back to running!  I had noticed you stopped and didn’t know why until I saw you out with the baby the other day.  It’s great that you’re getting back to it.  I used to enjoy watching you pass.  You were doing a great job.”

While my son noticed every time I was headed out for a run, other people who I had no real connection to were also noticing when I wasn’t running.  Impressions are made in the big moments, but also in the small moments too.  It can be in the grabbing of head phones, the handing handing of a book, a quick hello or nod as you pass by.

And with these little moments I begin to realize that maybe others are noticing me too.  As much as I look to others for inspiration, I hope that I am inspiring others as well.  I hope that my son who sees how much my runs mean to me finds something in his life that gives him that much joy and pleasure.  I know I don’t look like a “typical” runner, but I hope that inspires those that are too scared to run because of fear of judgement.   I hope that I can show others that if I can do it, they can do it.

It’s not necessarily about running, but really just getting out there and doing that thing you’re scared to do.  Fear of doing something is usually manifested simply by fear of judgment from others.  I was always scared that people would judge me as a runner simply because I was slow or didn’t look the part.  But If I never would have gotten out there, I wouldn’t be where I am now…completely in love with this “thing”.  It’s made me push myself and challenge myself in ways I never thought I could.

I hope that people look at me and my journey and realize there’s nothing to fear except fear.  That sometimes you have to jump.  That if you’re willing to take the leap of faith when everything tells you you shouldn’t you might just find something amazing.  You might just find yourself.

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Serious is as serious does

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” ~Jackie Robinson

Crackers.  That’s what my life’s been about these days.  Ritz crackers.

I don’t know why, but I have become obsessed with them.  I’ll even buy them when they’re not on sale, which for me is a very big deal.  They’re buttery.  They’re salty.  Like the little black dress, they go with everything.  They also have almost a gram of fat per cracker…and let’s not even get into the ingredients.  Yet lately, I can’t stop eating them.

It’s not for lack of healthy food.  I have hummus and veggies and fruit (oh my!).  It’s simply lack of desire.  Frankly, it feels like a case of the “W’s”.  Why bother?  Who cares?  What does it matter?  Where am I actually going? When am I going to get myself together?

The truth of the matter is that I haven’t been taking myself seriously.  I’ve just been eating and lazing about.  Sure, I just had a baby a few weeks ago and most people seem to think I should just be laying in bed, holding my baby, and eating chips.  But that’s not me.  At least, it’s not anymore. Two ago it was.  Post Oliver and Maxwell it was.  But it’s not now and I know that I can’t go back to that.

While I think my cracker habit is innocuous, the wine and chocolate habit certainly isn’t and the scale is reminding me of that every Friday morning as I step on.  Before, when the numbers went up, I could always just tell myself I was building muscle so it was ok.  At that time, though, I was also running 25 miles awake so that was probably true.  Not so much right now.

I signed up for 6 races while I was pregnant, hinging on the fact that having a goal or end point was going to make me jump right back  after having the baby.  With one of these being the New York City TCS Marathon I need to start taking the idea of running them seriously.

I feel like I fluctuate between “hell yes” and “hell no” whenever I think about actually completing the marathon.   Moment of gut-wrenching truth? I have this feeling like I KNOW I am going to chicken out which is why I’m not training like I should.

I’m not taking this seriously and I’m not taking myself seriously.  That is a problem.  I still have trouble identifying myself as a “runner”, even more so now since I really can’t run again yet.  I still get hung up on the fact that other people might not see me as a runner.  I somehow automatically assume that everyone is judging me and the real reason is because I can’t stop judging myself.

I need to hold myself more accountable.  I need to take myself seriously…even if other people don’t.

Because screw them.

I’m running the freaking New York City Marathon.  And it’s going to be awesome.

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