I leave tomorrow, earlyearly, for Palm Springs; I’m looking forward to seeing some of my favorite Internet people in person, which I don’t get to do nearly enough. I’m also looking forward to having a weekend to slow down and think about what comes next for me.
As part of the prep for this weekend, Laura and Maggie asked each of us to choose five things from our life lists that we want to accomplish in the next year. For the past little while, I’ve been tackling the little things, the ones that don’t push me too far outside my comfort zone. It’s been a good strategy; succeeding at those little things (wear a thong, find the perfect red lipstick, do 20 real pushups) has made me feel like I can do bigger things (run 15 miles), which is the whole point of the Life List (for me, at least).
But now it’s time to take on even bigger things. Running 15 miles seemed like a good warm up for that.
Months ago, we took the boys out for dinner, to Pei Wei, which is one of Charlie’s favorite restaurants. The boys love the fortune cookies, even though most of the fortunes aren’t fortunes at all, just goofy aphorisms that don’t make sense half the time. But I got lucky that night; my fortune was “Success is a journey, not a destination.” I’ve kept that little slip of paper in my jewelry box, where I can see it every day, and I think about that idea often, particularly when I’m feeling totally overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done — for work or the kids or whatever. I think I miss the journey sometimes because I’m so focused on the destination.
That fifteen miles this morning wasn’t about the destination; it was about the journey. I don’t mean the miles I ran today — I mean all the miles I’ve run over the past year and a half. It took me two and a half hours to run that fifteen miles, but it took longer than that to get to this point. That’s the part that matters.
Last night, I took Henry to karate; at the end of most of the classes, the coaches give a little talk about how the values they’re teaching in class are relevant in real life. Last night, the talk was about fear — about facing your fears and using them to become a better, stronger person. “There are fears that hold you back,” the coach told the kids, “and fears that lift you up.”
I love that idea — fears that hold you back, fears that lift you up. The challenge, I think, is turning the former into the latter.
Running still scares me, particularly the long runs. I don’t know what I think will happen; I always joke that my goal on any long run is not to die, but it’s not entirely a joke — the fear that I will push myself too hard is always there, even though I’m a pretty conservative runner. Over the weekend, I went out to run 15 miles, but by about mile 11 I knew I wasn’t going to make it — I was starting to feel sick and I just couldn’t keep going. I slogged through another mile and a half and then gave up and walked home. It was hard for me to remember that 12.5 miles is a good run — I was so disappointed that it wasn’t 15.
I took a couple of days to recover and hydrate and carbo load (mmm, pretzels) and then went out this morning to try again. I’ve never run 15 consecutive miles; it’s still hard for me to think of myself as someone who can go out and run 15 miles. But I did it, and I ran the whole way* and I didn’t die. Go me.
I’ve been nervous about Camp Mighty, about the part where we have to share five things from our list with the rest of the group. It’s hard for me to say out loud what it is that I want to accomplish, but I want to make this a fear that lifts me up, not a fear that holds me back. Crossing that 15 mile run off my list makes me feel like I can take on the next big thing and not die.
Have you made your life list? What’s on it? And what are you hoping to cross off in the next year? I’ll be sharing my short list here tomorrow.
*After the first 8 miles I stopped for water — I can’t drink and run — but that was maybe 30 or 45 seconds out of the whole run. I’m planning to walk through the water stops at the half marathons also, but only because if I don’t I will be wearing my PowerAde all down the front of my shirt for the rest of my run. Sexay.