This morning, I woke up with what felt like little springy coils in my stomach. I had 3 different dreams about the marathon, none of them overly negative, but none of them overly positive, either. I woke up after each one, telling those coils to stop bouncing and lay still.
I am as prepared as I can be. I have worked hard over the last 4 months, and I have been diligent and consistent. I have strengthened my body, lengthened my endurance, and solidified my resolve to accomplish this goal that I have had for such a very long time.
And yet, I'm still nervous. Because I have never run a marathon before, there's this big unknown looming in front of me, and I'll let you in on a little secret: the unknown is most scary to me. (I know that's not really a secret, and I know I'm not alone!) I like to plan, to prepare, to feel like I know what's coming--as often as possible. I enjoy happy surprises, but in general, prefer to know what's on the horizon.
My mother knows this; has always known this, as any good mother of any daughter would, I suppose. From the time I was little, she would "prep" me.
A random doctor appointment--
"Rae, we're going to the doctor. No shots today, but he will probably need to look in your ears, and have you say 'Ah' while he looks at your throat. Nothing will hurt; this is an appointment to show the doctor how healthy you are."
First day of high school--
"Honey, I know you're nervous. But I promise that tomorrow you will feel less nervous, and the day after that, even less, and so on and so forth. If you can get through this day, you will be just fine. I love you."
When I asked her what labor was like--
"What can I tell you about labor? Hm, let's see....well, it is the most pain I ever felt, and it will likely be the most pain you will ever feel. But you can do it. And the Lord will bear you up throughout. And it is worth it."
I have trained myself to "prep" for things that cause me anxiety, and so has Phill. "It's okay, Rae. You've prepared for this. You'll do great. I'll take you to the bus at 4:45....you'll get to the start line and have some time to rest or go to the bathroom or drink a gatorade or talk to the other runners....the race is at 6:45. You can do this!"
I visualize myself going through the event, fully functional, fully present. I see myself as I am: with my Nervous Nellie ways, but able to calm myself enough to feel the Spirit when I pray for help and peace. I see myself overcoming the hardest parts; this is where it is all a mystery. I know what my training felt like, but I do not know what this marathon will feel like....so I tell myself, "Whatever it is, I am ready."
And I read this, and remind myself that this will be a wonderful morning for me, a happy achievement, something to be proud of and most of all--a four-month process of hard work, growth, and conditioning. (Both emotional and physical.)
I also summon my motivation, reminding myself why I am doing this. There are many, many reasons why I am doing this, but today, one particular reason is on my mind.
Did I tell you much more about my cross-country coach? He was well-meaning, but a little insensitive at times. (Is that coach code? I don't know. Phill is the most sensitive, kind coach I know. He kind of defies the coach stereotype.)
Did I tell you about the day I walked into his classroom (he taught math), gawky 15-year-old, approached his desk, and said,
"So I heard that some of the guys on the team are doing the London marathon."
Him-"Yeah! It's going to be great."
"Do you think I could do that? I mean, not now....but....do you think I could do that?"
And here I need to break in and say--I was testing him. It's not really fair, my thinking in that moment, but I was testing him. I wanted to know if he thought I was capable of what the fast runners did. I wanted to know if he had my potential in mind, or if he had decided that he had already gotten all he could out of me. Most of all, I think I wanted him to challenge me, just so that I could prove him wrong; measure up. His answer?
"Well....no, I mean....you're still growing. You're pretty small-boned. I don't know if your body would handle it well."
Translate: You are a 92-pound 10th-grader. If you are asking me if you can run a marathon right now, I am most certainly going to answer NO, because your parents will sue me if you run a marathon right now with your still-growing not-so-solid body.
But what did I hear?
You cannot run a marathon.
And the seed was planted.
The best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can't. Not that I am super gung-ho or really into proving everyone wrong....I just don't like being told no when what I want to hear is yes. And some little sad part of me believed him that day in his classroom. I believed for a little bit that I didn't deserve the same as those boys who ran the marathon that year. That because I was slow, or small, or whiny, that I had less right to challenge myself and improve.
How ridiculous! How absolutely ridiculous! What less right have I to be tired, exhausted, overjoyed, full of accomplishment and triumph, for finishing a marathon in over 6 hours than the woman who finishes it in little over 2 hours? A goal is a goal is a goal....and when I finally cross that finish line tomorrow morning, I will be happy because I will have tamed that part of myself that believed I was less. That part that said, "Oh, you're not good enough.....just fade away." I am not going to let my fear stop me from doing my very best tomorrow. I may or may not have that coach's voice in mind, "....well, no" as I make it through mile 5, 10, 15, 20....but it will motivate me.
Perhaps he knew what he was doing. Maybe he knew that discouraging me would turn into the opposite later on. Maybe he knew me much better than I realized. Maybe he really liked me, and I was too insecure to let myself be liked.
In any case....thank you, Coach Edwards. In large part because of you, I will be running 26.2 miles tomorrow morning. It will be an honor to prove you (and my most insecure self) wrong. :D
My List of Reasons Why
To get healthy & strong
Because someone once said I couldn't
To build endurance
To be an example to my family
To run a distance/race Phill has never YET run (yes, there are some competitive bones in my body)
To see if I can
To say I did