Let it be your Exclamation Point 

As the days have grown longer, running after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays has quickly become my new pattern. With daylight illuminating every new path, I have an endless amount of new ground to cover. Each week my runs have expanded. My normal 3 mile loop has grown into four or five or six miles. On my map, my reach has expanded. More sunshine has casted light on my confidence to explore.

Isn’t this how it always works? A new running route, a new adventure, or a new chapter of life can cause me to become timid. While navigating the new course, I’m cautious. Then the light creeps in. Comfort is discovered. Confidence grows. My circles expand.

This year has been all about recognizing the ripples in life. Circles are expanding. Some of them are literal circles like my running path at work. Others are as figurative as the expansion of energy rippling outward from my heart and lungs.

On Friday I sat across from my running coach. It’s two weeks until race day. Like all the other ripples in my life , our trust and understanding of each other has also expanded. He has known long before me what I need from my running. Today I’m trusting it too.

For some people, running is simply running. Race day is the day to put your game face on, turn off your emotion and compete. I wanted this. I wanted nothing more than to take my head and my heart out of the equation. I thought to compete I needed to silence the part of me that felt too much and thought too much. In order to perform at my best, I spent many years trying to simply perform. Give me a race plan. Let me execute it. I thought that was the winning strategy because for some it is. For some runners it works brilliantly. My running coach may have always know this doesn’t work for me.

Silencing the part of me that thinks too much and feels too much is like chopping of my legs. I was fighting myself instead of racing. I had lost before I even started. Feeling too much and thinking too much is my strength.

I left that meeting with a very simple race plan. Race day is my exclamation point. 

the only note taken during our meeting

Two Tuesdays ago I was supposed to run mile repeats: three of them, four if I was feeling on fire. My legs wanted nothing to do with it. They’d only run one pace, and that was easy. I finished my run a little deflated. I had some thinking to do. Did I want race day to be an attempt at a personal best or did I want to run easy? What did I need from the race?

All week I had dreams filled with memories that made me feel alive. I had dreams that kept connecting me to times where I felt uninhibited and free. When I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and recall life moments that take my breath away, there is always one that stands out the most. It wasn’t my wedding day or the day I birthed my boys. It’s a simple night in Austin, Texas. After sitting speechless on a staircase listening to Andrew McMahon play music on his piano, I walked out on to Sixth Street. Surrounded by friends, we raced. We ran down the streets chasing nothing but the feeling of being alive. Maybe it was Austin, maybe it was the music, maybe it was the brand new territory in my life, but that night I knew what magic felt like.Because I know better than to try to seperate my life from my running, I knew there was something hidden in my dreams.

That’s the one thing.

There’s no safety in desire.

Preserving life is as good as dying.

🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close

This ripple pattern that I’ve come to notice in my life, it expands or contracts based on me. So many times I feel myself shrinking and caving in. So many times in my life I’ve felt so close to achieving it, touching it, experiencing it, and I’ve shrunk back out of fear.

And these could be the best or the darkest days.

The lines we walk are paper thin

And we could pull this off or push away

🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close

My biggest challenge is in letting go. Once I find my edge, too many times I’ve retreated backwards. How many times have I cheated myself out of enjoying the free fall that comes once we embrace the edge? How many times have I not run down the street for no other reason than it feels good to run? Once you push beyond the panic, the magic of life is waiting. 

So close

So close to giving up

So close to going all the way

So close to taking off

So close to going no where

🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close

At the beginning of this training cycle, I drove to the oceanfront with Andrew McMahom playing in my car. His song So Close playing too loudly for 6am.

As I drove I thought to myself, running is the punctuation of my life.  It defines the content. It gives structure and shape to everything I do. 

On Friday as I told my running coach I didn’t want a race plan, that I wanted to run reckless, that I wanted to get so close and not give up out of fear.

I wanna go there.

I wanna go there.

🎵Andrew McMahon, So Close

With every thought, every feeling, I’m showing up in Delaware. There is no plan A, B or C. There is no pace to hit for each mile. There are no bullet points outlining the details of my plan. There is only an exclamation point – the one my coach drew on my notebook after I told him what I needed from this race.

His Response:

Let it be your exclamation point! 

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

 


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