For the first time I am very, very nervous about an upcoming race.
I'm not nervous because I want to run fast (even though I do actually have a pace in mind for the first time). It's not because it's a particularly hard course -- although those two hills were brutal as I recall them.
Instead, I am nervous because I am running the race that started my journey, which has somehow prompted me to look beyond my running goals to my overall life goals.
Who knew running could get inside your head like that? (Perhaps sneakers should come with a disclaimer?)
Let me explain that last sentence in the easiest terms possible.
I never thought I'd really be able to call myself a runner. I wanted to be a runner. I had the heart and drive, but I wasn't confident I could make it actually happen.
However, now with countless miles, a half-marathon under my belt, and a training regimen for a full marathon underway, I feel I can comfortably say that I am a runner.
Becoming a runner when I started the blog seemed like this big, wild idea that only seemed possible far off in the distance. And then one day, instead of thinking about "becoming a runner" I shifted my focus to simply running.
The first day I ran for only a few minutes. I focused on the sheer act of putting one foot in front of the other. The next day, I did it for a few minutes more. And the next, and the next after that.
By focusing on the small act of just running day after day, I somehow built up enough strength and endurance to become the very thing that seemed so overwhelming: A runner.
It was the fear of never "becoming a runner" that caused me to have a kind of paralysis: I had a fear of failing. It was that fear that prevented me from trying to run in the past.
Over the course of many miles, and many months I have learned that my definition of failure has now shifted. It doesn't matter to me so much if I am as fast as I want to be -- what matters is simply the act of running. All that matters is crossing that finish line over and over again.
I have also realized that I would never be able to comfortably call myself "a runner" if I hadn't started with those few, meager strides all those months ago. The true failure, for me, would have been never giving running a proper go.
Maybe the fact that I am re-running my first race has made me nostalgic, or maybe I've learned more about myself through running than I anticipated. Whatever the case may be, I now have a list of things I feel I must tackle that I've always wanted to try. Somehow, running has given me the courage to try all the things I never thought I could attempt before simply because I was afraid of failing.
From here on out, I've decided I will never fail under my new definition of failure as long as I take those first, few meager strides. Because truthfully, those are the hardest ones to take.
But running is a funny thing like that -- once you have a good momentum going, it makes it harder to stop.
Wish me luck Sunday. I'll see you at the finish line.