|Me with my Medal - happy happy joy joy|
It's been a week and 13.1 miles since my last confession.
Yes, in that time, I ran (that is not a metaphor) a half-marathon.
I guess what I should say is I accidentally or inadvertently ran a half-marathon as that was not the plan, the plan was to walk it. Or walk/run it with the emphasis on *walk.*
But what happened is what always happens to me. I get impatient and just want something to end, so I tear my way through it. I got caught up in the moment and all the nice running people and became part of the group.
So this half-marathon I had planned on walking, I actually ran what turned out to be a 12-minute mile in the end, with absolutely no training for a half-marathon, but having an overconfidence in my abilities and just being an optimistic jerk. (I am feeling it today and yesterday in my legs, which are two ridiculous achy masses of overworked flesh.)
I am not a runner, but I play one on TV. Or apparently for medals, which is why I said I'd do this race with my husband because why bother to do something if you don't get a medal? (Says the "I never won a trophy as a child" voice in my head.)
But this is a blog about creativity, not running, but this whole race made me think about what motivates, what pushes us towards our goals, and connecting with our own motivations and ambitions and how to use all of that for good.
To the Confessional--
I confess only a jerk would run a half marathon after zero miles of running or training.
The last time I put on my running shoes was last year's half marathon which I *walked* with my daughter. I knew 5 miles in to Sunday's race that I was that jerk
and as that that jerk, this is what I learned--
1) Sometimes you may be inadvertently training for something else.
For example, I mountain bike, paddleboard, hike, and do yoga-- not at the same times and sometimes inconsistently, but the time I've put into these sports helped me do something else.
When I was planting my vegetable garden, I wasn't thinking the strength I developed lifting all those bags of soil would help me somewhere else, but it did. Same with the long hikes I took with my golden retriever. Or getting lost in Paris and walking six miles with my family in a daze and them completely unbelieving at how bad I was at reading a map.
We put time in one place and it helps us in another.
As poets, the time we put in writing poems may help us write that memoir fantastically because we use image and metaphor better than other writers. As prose writers, we may be incredible editors as we read through pages and pages of our manuscript looking for mistakes. As editors, we may be strong teachers because we see the mistakes poets and writers make daily just while doing our job.
So just because you're doing *one* thing, don't count yourself out for something completely different.
2) Learn what motivates you and use it to make you do the things you dislike.
Truth be told, I hate running. Yes, I just ran 13.1 one miles and I dislike running. In fact, I don't do it ever except when there's a medal waiting for me at the finish line. That is my motivation.
If you don't like marketing, but you like money, let the money payoff motivate you in marketing your book.
I am not crazy about marketing, but my payoff as a writer is when someone tells me my poem, essay, or story made a difference in their life or they enjoyed it. When I do a reading, it's not about how many books I sell, but about how many people in the audience where moved or connected with what I read. Success to me is the one person who walks up to me at the end and said, "What you wrote really made a difference to me."
Figure out what motivates you in writing and in life and use it for good.
3) Being impatient is a wonderful gift.
I am terribly impatient with certain things. If I'm in a rush and someone is lollygagging in the grocery store, I'm like a rabid weasel weaving around them. If I'm uncomfortable, I immediately want that feeling over. I am not the noble one sucking it up for others' benefit, I'm the one standing up on the bus trying to open locked windows because I'm hot. (Note: this is not an example of "my best self.")
However, being impatient helped me finish the race.
Around mile 10, my legs began to tighten. Around mile 11, they were in full inner cramp mode and they hurt. I could have slowed down, but instead I found places to run faster-- my thought: let's get this race over with! The more it hurt, the more I ran, knowing myself--I was going to finish this race whether passing out in pain as I went over the finish line or not, there was no maybe here.
In our writing, when we know we have to get something done by a deadline, we do it.
If we're feeling uncomfortable about something, the best thing to do is suck it up and send it off. Finish.
4) Optimism and overconfidence can take you places you've never been, teach you things, and bring you good stuff.
Okay, it would seem like being overconfident isn't a good thing. Like deciding you want to cross a tightrope over the Grand Canyon when you're not prepared, but in writing and sometimes in life, it helps.
Why? Because we try things we wouldn't have just because we believe in ourselves.
I wasn't planning on running, but I figured, Hey, I'm in pretty good shape, I'll be fine.
Now, while my legs ache right now and I wasn't as "fine" as I thought I'd be, I did surprise myself in good ways. I freaking ran a half marathon.
My optimism in "it will all be good" allowed me to sign up. My overconfidence led me to run it, and the experience taught me some things-- such as take things (such as half marathons) more seriously and it's important to prepare.
But if you finish and more so if you try, you're rewarded no matter what.
5) You can do more than you think you can. Sometimes you just need to show up and run the best you can.
Life is about showing up, not being afraid, sucking it up, trying something new, and doing the best (or as close to best) as you can.
It's about not underestimating yourself, but believing (even if things don't work out) that they will. Or might. But you are going to have fun along the way and it's kind of amazing what we can do if we give ourselves a shot.
|The reason I ran? This guy, it was his birthday and that's what he wanted to do...|
I'm going to write more in future blogs about motivation and I'm truly interested how we each find our energy to do what we do.
Life is funny. Sometimes we sign up for things and expect to walk through them and the next thing we know, we are Mach 2 with our hair on fire (a Top Gun reference for any 80's kids). We are moving forward, thinking "well, if there's a zombie apocalypse at least I won't be last," realizing how much our bodies and minds can do if we really stretch them.
Yes, there can be pain afterwards, but like childbirth, we forget. We forget and sign up again.
And there we have it--life. Ignorance. Motivation. Satisfaction. Pain. Healing. Satisfaction again.
Was it worth it? Hell yes (said in my best Beyonce voice).
I learned more than I would have staying at home.
And what I haven't learned is to stop (I'm actually on my way to go mountain biking today despite pain in my legs as I'm under the impression that it will make them *feel better*).
And I learned this lesson-- No matter what you're doing, no matter how slow or fast, you're doing it. And you're moving forward.
The lesson to all--
We may be slow, but we're lapping everyone on the couch.
Babysteps into the elevator...
And now with my medal.
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