Friday, February 12, 2010

Ready or Not

I know, it's been a month since we last spoke. Here's what's happened since then...


Shoot, I was hoping the slow fade out and flashback montage would kick in there.

Okay, is too much, lemme sum up: My workouts faded out, to the point where I was just going to the gym once a week or so, and then doing a "long" day every Saturday. The longest distance I reached was 8 miles. (Actually, it was 7.5 miles. I can't lie to you, bloggy blog.) I also took part in the Christopher's Heart Charity 5K (for Team Curtis! W00t!), helped to raise a paltry $75 for research of childhood diseases, and succeeded in finishing a race--something I hadn't done since Halloween (remember the DNF? I do.). So seeing a finish line was a comfort.

And now here we are, WBB. I'm in a hotel room in Lake Jackson, TX, less than 12 hours away from the start of my first half-marathon (the first of many, I hope). I'm gonna nibble on a little chocolate, drink some milk, watch a half hour or so of a documentary on marathoners, and then spend 45 minutes stressing out on the exact angle my race number hangs, as i pin it to my shirt for tomorrow. Everything is laid out. Everything is ready. Except me, maybe.

People have been asking me for the last two weeks, "Are you ready?" Can I answer that? Dare I? Does anyone ever feel "ready" for their first long-distance race? It's like asking a first-time mom if she's ready to undergo childbirth. Ready or not, this baby is happening. "Ready" is running's version of the Loch Ness Monster. (No offense, Marshall.) People swear they've seen ready, but no one knows for sure.

Maybe this is just the pre-race nerves talking. Maybe I'll be "ready" for my next race. But I doubt it. "Ready" people aren't facing challenges they may not be able to handle. "Ready" people aren't pushing themselves to their limit and then a little bit beyond that. "Ready" people play it safe.

I'm not ready. But I'm doing this. Come hell or high tide (depending on how long I'm out there, heh).

John "The Penguin" Bingham's philosophy on his race-day goal is a simple one: "Finish the same day that you start." I love that. Because that's what it's about. I'm not out there to win any awards. The winners will be eating BBQ and on their way home by the time I come close to the tape. My small goal is just to finish the half in 5 hours or less, but if it takes more, that's okay. Because I'll be a finisher.

A finisher. That's something I've struggled with for a good part of my adult life. Finishing things well.

Tomorrow, I'm atoning for all the times I've given up and given in. The times I've sabotaged myself so that I wouldn't come close to greatness, lest I risk falling short and feeling pain or disappointment, or risk letting people down.

Tomorrow, a little piece of personal redemption hangs by a ribbon, waiting to be draped around my neck.

You can have your Olympics, your Super Bowls, your basketball championships. I just want to win the Battle of Stopping Short. I want to take hold of the prize that's due the man who finishes the race.

That's all the glory i need.

11 hours, 11 minutes away. Make a wish.

And as John the Penguin would say, "Waddle on, friends."

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