Friday, October 2, 2009

Reasons Why

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

Appendix:
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

14 comments:

Kristy said...

Ooooo! Good luck sweetie. You are amazing. I think anyone that runs a marathon is super cool...but you didn't have to prove that to me before either ;) Don't forget your water ;)

Andrea said...

Good for you. Get er done tomorrow!

Kelly said...

Oh Rae. I am so proud of you for doing this! I am getting butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it! Race Day is the best day! I wish so badly that I could be there to cheer you on! Good Luck, Good Luck, Good Luck!
And I can't wait to read the post-marathon post! :)
Love you!

Heidi said...

I'm emailing you because my response to this was too long. :)

I'm so excited for you. More to come in email...

But warning, your beautiful post made me realize we have something else in common - being told we cannot do something is a good way to ensure we'll do exactly that something.

Christine & Brian said...

Good luck tomorrow! I'm so amazed at your dedication to this and I hope it is all you have been dreaming it'll be. :)

midRae said...

Rae, I know you've got this and I wanted to let you know that every time I go out jogging I picture you in my head and it gives me the drive to keep running. I am no where near where you are but you give me a goal. Thanks and good luck. You've got this!!!
Rae

Abby Hanson said...

Oh my sweet Rae! How I love you! You are so FULL of life and love and emotion and passion. Even amidst all the butterflies that have accompanied your training, I have LOVED watching your passion to reach this goal. You motivate me to find something I can be equally passionate about and DO IT.

I love you and I know you'll do AWESOME tomorrow (whether your time is 2 hours or 2 hours and 240 minutes...).

Lara said...

I'm cheering for you! I know you'll do awesome and feel so great afterwards.

You are so much like my Bria. I just had to smile reading about your need for prep. :)

Finally, you really should enter this in Scribbit's write-away contest this month. The theme is fear.

scribbit.blogspot.com

leslie the licorice stick lady said...

Good Luck! You can do it, I know it. Don't forget WATER!....and don't let Phil forget the camera!

Bridget said...

You will be awesome! You'll be surprised at how much adrenaline you will have and the first half will go by without a blink. By mile 20, you will start to feel it but think if this in running terms...heck that's only 6 miles! That's SO easy! Pull through that last hour, finish strong and cry at the end. And be sure to eat and drink plenty afterwards. You will be STARVING! I'm so proud of you!

My Family said...

I am so excited for you.....this is something that NOBODY can ever take away from you. The scariest part is standing there waiting for the race to start and then you go, you go and you go and then you realize how far you've gone and you smile because YOU did that. Enjoy it, have a good time and you will truly be amazed and what you are capable of. You will be on my mind tomorrow and I can't wait to hear about your race (of course not for a few days, you will be tired) and tell Phil to make sure there is a big cake waiting for you at home because you deserve it and you will be hungry enough to eat the whole thing (and you should eat the whole thing, you will just be taking back the calories you burned off).

MAG of Marie Photographie said...

You GOOO girl!! I will be thinking of you. I know you're going to have an amazing experience--I just know it.

Have fun! I can't wait to read about it! I am beyond impressed and you haven't even run the race yet. All your diligence and training is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself.

Go, Rae!!!

Qait said...

YEAH!!! AMEN!!! HUZZAH!!!!!
I'm bouncing on my seat with excitement and vigor and ... I don't know, cheerleaderness!!!
I've been thinking about you, and just so you know, I have NEVER doubted you (NEVER). My thoughts go like this: how many miles did she reach this week? When is her marathon? I hope she's feeling well.
YAYYYY!!! I'm so eager to hear the finale, the ending triumphant call: YOU DID IT!
Wee! Seriously, I'm so so so excited for you!

On a more serious side of this comment:
my reasons for things are often because so many people tell me I can do anything...and I believe them... and then I see nothing. So my motivations stem greatly from the pain of not proving Me to me.
I am sad that you were told "no," but glad that you figured it out so that it's not as damaging as it could be.
I LOVE you!

Anna said...

You SO inspire me. I can't wait to hear your results.