Over the summer, I took up running. (Please don't roll your eyes and close your laptop. I'm not going to become an obnoxious running blogger.) It was during the summer Olympics and something inside of both Ryan and myself nudged us to attempt more than our daily walk. The human body can do amazing things, as evidenced by the high-flying gymnasts and torpedo-like swimmers we watched dutifully from the couch each night. There was a lot of evidence to suggest that our 35 year-old bodies could do more than we'd been asking of them.
First, we considered learning a series of back-flipping, triple-twisting acrobatics in our backyard, but found that our health insurance does not cover mid-life gymnastics injuries.
So we started running for 30 seconds.
And we pretty much thought we would die.
But we didn't.
We worked our way up to 3 miles, and while we were quite proud of ourselves, we pretty much thought we would die the few times we attempted 3.2 or even 3.5 miles. We stuck at 3 difficult miles every day, figuring we had met our limit. Every run was hard, but ultimately fulfilling in that I-guess-this-is-an-accomplishment-considering-where-we-started way.
Months later our friend Marianne asked us to do a half marathon with her in March, and we trepidatiously agreed to try it and begin training. When I looked at the training schedule climbing slowly up to 8, 9, 10 miles and beyond, I felt panic down in my toes. I couldn't imagine this future version of myself who would be able to do this. I questioned her existence as much as I had once questioned Santa's.
Here's the crazy thing: I really love the long runs. And though it makes very little sense, the 3-mile runs are still tougher for me than the 8's, 9's, and even the 10-mile run I had on Saturday. Here's another crazy thing: it's possible that I could have stuck at 3 miserable miles forever, if I hadn't taken that scary leap into something bigger.
Of course, all of this running has made me think about writing. My writing. For many, many reasons (some consciously explored, some probably unconsciously hidden), I sort of shut down my writing shop. Here on the blog. In the novel I started many moons ago. Pretty much everywhere except for the paid work I do copywriting.
I tried to explore the possibility that maybe I don't need to constantly feel the push to accomplish something bigger. Maybe I should just be content with my little copywriting jobs and the life around me. Maybe I'm not good enough or smart enough to do anything bigger than that, and maybe that's perfectly okay.
I've tried to adopt that way of thinking, but could never really get past temporary foster status. It might be time to let that idea go to another home. I can't get over this nagging suspicion that I'd been stuck at 3 miserable miles without realizing it.
"No promises," I'd said to Marianne when I agreed to start training. Let's see what I can do. She told me I would surprise myself.
No promises I say today.