I’m not a New Years resolution kinda gal. The closest I get is my yearly halfhearted “this year I will be more disciplined” and eventually resign to my fate of leaving a trail of belongings most places I go. Although earlier this week I did tell a friend my belated goal was to stop dressing like a tired teacher on the weekends. Some would count that as progress.
This year was no exception to my “discipline” resolution. In addition, I had made a goal to run a half marathon but that didn’t really even have to do with the New Year. Side note- running at 8,000 feet sucks. My reason behind the half was just to prove to myself I could while practicing loving and being kind to myself in the process. That was it.
Here’s a secret. I’m not a runner. I’m slow. There’s no oxygen where I live. I had never run more than a 5k. I started training in January when we got 6 feet of snow and my first outdoor run after a few weeks on a treadmill was one of the more miserable experiences. I was cold. I was comparing. People literally run up mountains where I live, who I was to be worthy of running 13 miles? 4 miles seemed like 400. My friend practically drug me the whole way. It was ugly. There have been many runs since then which were ugly. But not only did I start training for something which for years seemed unattainable and formidable, I was talked into joining a local ski race series. The conversation went something like this,
Friend: “Hey Laura! You’re keeping up pretty well with us! Want to join the team?”
Me: “Are you serious? No.”
Friend: “C’mon! We’ll get less points if no one races than if you get last! There’s no pressure!”
My first race comes. I’m nervous. I’ve never raced in my life. My teammates I had just met that morning are giving me a pep talk and bestowing tips as we’re slipping the course. Their main piece of advise, “Don’t fall. All you have to do is finish and get a time.” We map out the course, I do my best to pay attention. I awkwardly slip on my race bib and with it put on an extra layer of “I hope I’m good enough.” Did I mention today was not a normal course? It was twice the length. Awesome. My time to race is up. The girl before me was a former Junior Olympian, even better. I begin. I’m doing well. I’m breathing. I haven’t fallen. I’m over halfway down, all I have to do is finish when all of a sudden my ski catches an edge. I fall, exactly what everyone told me not to do. I pop back up to finish when I notice I’m off balance, I look uphill to see my ski has popped off. I won’t get a time. I thought “now is the time to be kind to yourself. It’s okay you fell. You went fast, You went hard, and you fell because you were trying.” But on the gondola ride back up shame set in. How could I have fallen?! I was nervous about my second run down. The course was different, I was paralyzed with fear and the thought “Do. not. fall.” My second run came. I was horridly slow, I was nervous, but I didn’t fall. I finished.
I didn’t want to know my time. I didn’t want to know my place. I was embarrassed. My friend called me at the end of the day “Laura! You didn’t get last!” to which I assumed “I got next to last!!” which was met with a hearty “EXACTLY! But you didn’t get last!”
What I’m really saying is the beginning of this year was a bunch of failing.
By February, I was exhausted in the best possible way. I think I was having what Brene Brown refers to as “a vulnerability hangover” aka I’m really putting myself out there and it sucks. In less than two months, I was racing most Mondays, running three times a week, and consistently freaking out over the notion that if I ever want to date someone I actually have to let them know me. As I was talking to a friend I said “I just want to do something I’m good at! I just want to do something familiar!”
But that’s not really the point of all of this is it?
My half marathon is in 3 weeks. I’m still terrified and running still isn’t easy, but I will finish and I will be proud. I will also eat a whole pizza afterward and love every bite. Joining a ski team ended up being one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. It was one of my highlights of the seemingly endless winter and I ended up placing 8 out of 35 women for the series. My team placed 5th overall and trophied. Maybe doing things which scare you doesn’t end up so bad after all
I would say being bold has been a cultivated force of habit. Since high school my continual prayer to God has been “take my timidity.” I could list a millennia of things I am afraid of ranging from getting a paper cut in my eye, a fork stuck in my teeth, to letting people down and being seen as flawed. But in this whole process, I have learned to love myself better. I have come to appreciate my body more than ever before. I have paused and reassessed my motivation, “Am I doing this to ‘keep up’ with the person next to me? Am I hustling for an opinion which doesn’t matter?” I’ve continually checked back in with myself and asked “Are you proud?” and worked my hardest to keep going until the answer was “yes.”