“In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.” ― Albert Schweitzer
I went for a run Sunday. I was supposed to go Saturday and put it off due to rain. In the past, I never would have put off a training long run. I would have looked a the weather forecast and planned around the rain (or heat or whatever weather was coming). For the past 8 summers my life has been consumed by marathon training. My eating, drinking, sleeping and running…all of it were focused on one goal….26.6 in October. This summer I have been slow to start as I have been training on my own. I did not want to subject anyone to my foul attitude about training.
I decided to spice up training and signed up for a virtual run. I registered for the “Deamer” run from Fellow Flowers….distance and date up to the runner. I thought that my Sunday run would be my virtual “race” and set off for 8 miles. As I ran, I listened to my Fellow Flowers playlist on Spotify. Some of the songs were songs I had never really heard before or songs that I had paid attention to the lyrics. I was not thrilled about this run or the weather so I put one foot in front of the other and moved forward slowly in the soupy morning air. I was going to finish…..
As I ran I got lost in my thoughts. I was running frustrated and angry….and I didn’t really know why…
and then it hit me….like a ton of bricks….the signs had been there all along but it was a sign in a yard that was the one that cracked open my heart and let the light in. It was a sign that read “Divorce Sale.”
A woman in my neighborhood was having a divorce sale and getting rid of things. I stopped and chatted for a minute and then it dawned on me why I was so frustrated and angry……training….proving…the stress and anxiety of training…the desire to prove something by running the marathon….that was IT!
I started running because our dog needed exercise. Someone dared me to run a 5k. So I trained and finished to prove I could. After that someone challenged me to run a 1/2 marathon so I trained and finished to prove I could. After that, the next challenge was a full marathon so I trained and finished to prove I could. The next challenge offered was to train others to finish a marathon so I did that too.
I loved the challenges and ability to prove myself to others. I loved setting a strong example of setting/accomplishing goals for my children, my students and my Girls on the Run. I loved running and my Saturday morning long runs with my summer running family. I really loved it all and running gave me so many feels every day!
But now I no longer liked running. I dreaded it. The “feels” I was getting from running were no longer positive. I was no longer setting a positive example for anyone.
As I ran on that sultry Sunday morning run alone, I thought about my friends Molly, Mel, and Keith. All made choices to step away from something they loved for a bit and that changed their lives for the better. They were leading me…..but I didn’t know it. I thought about all the people that inspire others without running marathons. I thought about the other things in my life that bring me joy. Then it hit me….. I realized that I had lost my love of and joy in running. I no longer saw the flowers at my feel. I was running not for any reason but to PROVE something. I realized that I had been running for years to prove myself to me and to others. I was running to prove that I could…to prove that I was strong. I finally realized that I really have nothing to prove to anyone.
The past 3 plus years(and the years leading up to that point) were some of the hardest years of my life. Without the lessons learned from running and training, I don’t think I could have made it through. I was told that I love “relishing in the fact” that I am ” a strong single mom.” I no longer have to prove that I am strong. I know that I am strong. I believe in my own strength and I have nothing to prove to anyone.
So I made a decision….a decision that, once made, felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. A decision that, once made, brought a newfound spring in my step. A decision, once made, brought me …..JOY! I made the decision to defer my entry for this year’s marathon.
I may choose to train next year or I may choose to never use that entry. The choice is mine to make, but for now, I am liberated by my choice to defer.
I know that my life, with all of its ups, downs, wins, losses, mistakes and imperfections, is an inspiration to others. I know that my future is going to be filled with amazing adventures. I know I am stronger than I ever realized. I know that I now run for me….for JOY.