Flashback to 1996. I’m in middle school, wear really unattractive khakis and clogs, and like to hide out in the library (and occasionally cry in the carrels because oh my lord, it’s middle school). I’ve never been an athletic kid and this year in gym class, a new horror is presented: I have to run the mile.
Okay, it’s not just me–everyone in our class has to run 11 laps around the gym, which equals a mile. Some kids finish in no time at all. Others (cough me cough) are left gasping and struggling until the end of gym class, after which there’s barely any time to change so I arrive at my next class sweaty and red-faced. I mentally curse all gym teachers, all athletes, and anyone who ever thought a mile was a reasonable distance to make a nerdy middle schooler run.
Flashforward to last weekend. I willingly wake up at 5am, head to downtown Boston in the cold and rain to gather with a few thousand other people so we can all run 13.1 miles.
Middle school Annie would be shocked.
I started running a couple of years ago after my gym offered a running class for newbies. I found that I liked it and started running 5ks, then challenged myself with a 10k. Last fall, I was in a running rut and decided I should sign up for a half-marathon so I’d have to really challenge myself. I had to get up early, schedule running time on the weekend, deal with setbacks like sickness or foot pain. But when last Sunday rolled around, I felt ready and wanted to cross that finish line.
I actually got kind of emotional heading down that last .1 mile. The race was in honor of fallen MA police officers, like Officer Sean Collier, who had originally signed up to run the race. After the Boston Marathon bombings, I think a lot of local runners felt like this was a particularly meaningful race.
But I also got emotional thinking about how I never expected to run this far. For me, having never been athletic and not being used to pushing myself physically, this was a big experience.
It also got me thinking about writing goals. I know a lot of people talk about writing and running, and do so much better than I could, but the process is similar. You have to get up early or sacrifice some of your weekend hours. You may need to shower or eat lots of sandwiches afterward. Problems pop up all the time (knee pain, plot holes, etc.). It’s easy to say the weather/coffee’s not right and make excuses, but it doesn’t get the work done. Just getting out there/in front of the computer can be daunting, especially when your goal seems so far ahead of you. But the work builds and matters. Every step you take, every word you write, is bringing you closer to your goal. Maybe it’s a goal that you never thought you could achieve, but you can get there. Little by little, you can cross that finish line.
Another way running is like writing–a lot of time spent working is time alone, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a supportive community. So high five to all you readers who are working hard and making strides to your goals!