Saturday, September 5, 2009

Shoot for the moon... even if you miss it you will land among the stars

In high school, our cross country team used to have locker buddies that would decorate (secretly) a teammate's locker, giving them energy drinks and snacks, hanging up streamers and inspirational quotes. Ask anyone who ran in blizzards and hurricanes in Mount Olive, NJ between 1998 and 2002 and they'll tell you that that quote was always plastered on my locker... and in my locker buddy's locker, too.

I believe in it. Especially now.

I want to run again.

Some of you have just smiled.
Some of my friends have a hand to their mouth or let out a little "whoa."
I bet one of you is nodding with a tear in your eye.
I hope someone's cheering.

Scott and I stopped briefly at a Dick's Sporting Goods store today and I found myself holding a pair of mesh shorts and wanting to dart into a jog right in the parking lot.

I've been thinking about it a lot lately, but my running comes with a lot of baggage. I thought I gave it up for good about two years ago, when in the middle of training for a marathon, my body just shut down.

My friend Ashley gives me hope as she trains for a race later this month after a long and successful weight-loss program. I'm so proud of her and it is in part her stories of her training that have gotten me drooling for my pasttime of 10 years.

My friend Kacey recently decided to go back to running, too, and I'm so happy for her. She and I got each other through college cross country. Well, she got me through it with her shared secrets and disappointments and all those crazy times in the training room.

This gives me inspiration. And hope. If she can do it, I can do it.
And I don't need to win any championships or even run 50 miles a week again. Really, I just want to hear my sneakers, tied in the special way that I've been doing for half of my life, with just the right amount of support and cushion for my old achy legs, beating against the pavement, through the fall puddles and across the crunchy winter snow.

I want to be lost with my deepest thoughts -- or no thoughts at all -- as I beg my legs to pull me up the next hill.

I want to fight with the voice inside my head that tells me I'm tired and to just turn around and walk home.

I want to be back to the memories of middle school, high school and college, making friends, pushing myself and feeling fit and happy. That feeling of accomplishment turning off the IPod or glancing at my stopwatch.

I don't want to get lost on the unimportant things... calories, sit-ups and just-one-more-mile's.

I don't want to go back there.

I don't want running to equal a sickness and lose all of the things I love about it.

I don't want to be sick.

I'm scared that it's just too late. And that too much damage has been done.

I'm scared that it will be like the last time I went for a run. I made it about a mile, pushing through the aches in my ankles, the stabbing pain in my hips, the burning in my chest. Then, I felt as though my entire body had exploded and then just gone lifeless. I was next to a cornfield, alone on a back country road, unable to lift my arm, let alone make it home. I sat sobbin on the gravel, wondering how I had gotten here and what happened to the 15-year-old with a dream as big as The Bowl in Holmdel for the state cross country championships.

I've come a long way in the past couple of years. It's been a tough road and it's not done yet, but I am eating healthy -- and more -- and I'm taking care of myself for possibly the first time in my life. Well, OK, definitely the first time in my life.

And I've already told myself that I can't push myself in any way. That it has to be fun and the moment it stops being enjoyable, I stop lacing up those sneakers and settle for my tennis and Pilates again.

I tell myself that I can do this. That running got me through the toughest times in my life and that it's as much a part of me as my friends and my family some days.

I tell myself that I'll be more upset if I don't just try.

The great Steve Prefontaine once said:

“Life’s battles don't always go to the strongest or fastest man, But sooner or later the man who wins is the fellow who thinks he can.”

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards.
-- Alberto Salazar

1 comment:

  1. I smiled. I said "Whoa." I got a little misty-eyed. And you had better believe I am cheering.

    "Be proud of how far you have come, Have faith in how far you can go..."

    I'm proud of you, and I have faith in you.
    XoXo Boose.