life in the middle of the pack

Have you ever had a brush with greatness? That one, weightless, gleaming moment where suddenly everything lines up, the momentum seems right, where you hold your breath and watch in slow-motion as events unfold?

The natural desire is for glory as life regains normal speed, as we come to reality and see yes, we have achieved that which we were after. However, it would hardly be realistic to say that this is the norm. Sometimes the closest thing we have to glory is that one gleaming moment, where we waited with baited breath, enveloped in the pure idea of hope laced with desire. Sometimes all we are left with when life regains full speed is another reminder that, yet again, glory is out of hand’s reach.

Welcome to life in the middle of the pack.

In many ways, one could argue that of course I am unique. A 30 year old newlywed on mission to run a ridiculous number of races, triggered by a grandfather who made it to age 103. A woman who didn’t know she had scoliosis till a life changing car accident at 22, an eating disorder survivor, a bipolar disorder diagnosed statistic. In many ways laid out on paper one might argue my “one in a million” genuine nature, yet the truth is in many other respects, I’m just another person. We all have a story to tell. Everyone has facets that make them exemplary. Anyone can take to the internet, to blogs and social media to create a persona, a personal brand. The nature of the beast creates competition whether or not it was intended: of contests, of follower counts and viral-ability.

Like running, there are hundreds upon thousands who participate at a variety of levels. There are only a few elite, a few who always lead the pack, and always a few who are winning by simply beating the sweep. The extremes are large. And then, of course, there those of us who feel glory’s warmth — from the heels of someone else basking in it.

It makes me laugh that for whatever reason at work I have a reputation as “runner girl,” always training for something. I am surrounded by athletes, women in their prime who can out run, out lift, out endure. How is it that they think so highly of me? Am I delusional, or do I really project what feels like a lie? How could I have this reputation if I never, ever win?

When asked my times the reactions are usually good, yet all I can think of is how I did against my peer group. Joining the women’s 30-34 age group was hardly the best time to decide to try to become competitive, against women who have honed their craft their entire lives. It wasn’t till scarcely a year ago I identified truly as a runner. I have yet to figure out “my” distance, am only just now learning to incorporate speed work and better, focused cross training.

When I look outside of my teeny tiny world, I am hardly accomplished. Suddenly all the things that I could say make my personal story and wins pale. I am not the strongest, the fastest, not at all the events with all the constant network connections. In many ways, participating in the online run community can be both inviting and reassuring as it welcomes all kinds, but can also be a reminder of how mediocre one’s best may be versus someone else.

Ah comparison and jealousy, you devils.

Originally, I set out to write about how I took two weeks off and survived, how it wasn’t the end of the world and how it actually helped me refocus myself. However, had I taken my original approach, I would be omitting how I spent at least one of those weeks both resting and moping, eating too many Oreos and generally feeling sorry for myself because I was allowing myself to become jealous. Opportunities and sponsorships that friends and acquaintances have received were making me upset that week – normally I would help celebrate them, be happy for them, but this week I was all negative. Why not me?

Opportunities don’t wait. Part of me will forever wonder what would have happened had I gone to that model casting call at 19. A woman in San Francisco literally ran after me in a crowded area to give me her card and tell me to go the next day. She said some incredibly flattering things about me. I didn’t go. Instead I will always wonder.

The truth is, that week of allowing myself to wear grumpy pants pushed me to think past it. I had tried to say I wouldn’t play the comparison game or be jealous and instead I became the most internally competitive jealous person I could have been, fighting people who didn’t even know I was fighting them.

The truth is I was fighting myself – and that is who I needed to be fighting all along.

Life in the middle of the pack isn’t glamorous. You’re often forgotten, sometimes trampled, but you are never, ever alone. There is always someone to chase and someone to encourage to catch up. Spending so much time in the middle of the pack with my head down, I had forgotten how to look up and how to look ahead.

After training and being ultimately defeated by heat at the Disneyland Half Marathon, I had scraped a PR but in my heart it wasn’t by a great enough margin. I watched friends place, win, achieve after injury, and I allowed myself to become discouraged during my secret marathon training. Ultimately yes, I am happy with my Oakland Marathon performance, but know I am capable of so much more. If this is what I can do with some training, what could I do if I could truly throw my all at it? And what is stopping me from doing so but me?

Now, I embrace the middle of the pack. I want to nip at the heels of the front. I will chase them, but I will be fighting myself ever step of the way, pushing myself to my own greatness, my personal glory, whatever that may be. I know that I may not ever touch a podium, but if I never touch one knowing I did all could, gave all I had, I will be happy the day I finally hang up my shoes.

But with 85 races to go, a grandfather who made it to 103 (and a 97 year old grandmother,) that won’t be for a very long time. Tell the front of the pack to watch out. The middle’s coming for you.

via Instagram: We end every home run derby this way: smashing golf balls.

http://scrinina.org/2014/04/12/1298/

car-aoke

Sometimes I sing – not necessarily well, but I sure enjoy it.
via Instagram: Stuck on this lyric: “Headed out on Sunday, said he’d come home Monday. I stayed up waiting, anticipating and pacing, but he was…”
I just simply love the meter of it. (Lana del Rey, “Blue Jeans”)

We Can Do It: Running the Riveter for a Cause

On June 22nd, I will be donning my best Rosie attire and pushing for a PR at Titanium Racing’s  inaugural fast-and-flat Marina Bay Half Marathon – also known as “the Riveter” – to raise money for an incredible cause!

CoachArt is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for chronically ill children and their families by providing free lessons in the arts and athletics. The video below explains it all.

 

With your donation to CoachArt, you are making a difference in the lives of children, helping provide adaptive sports programming for chronically ill children with physical limitations.

Art and athletics were huge influences that helped shape who I am today, and I believe that everyone should experience them. They were incredible emotional outlets which helped me gain confidence and allowed me to express myself in a variety of ways, and still do. By raising money I’m helping them to provide sports programs for kids of all abilities – because EVERY kid should have the opportunity to benefit from the joy of sports and the arts.

My initial goal of $500 is enough to provide 20 kids basketballs, jerseys, whistles and stop watches and every penny counts. I hope you will help me reach my first fundraising goal – and then move on to the next one.

Want to help make a difference?
Click here to donate to CoachArt.
All donors will be entered in a bonus drawing.

Want to join me on the course?
Click here to register for the Riveter – the inaugural Marina Bay Half Marathon/10k/5k.

 

a moment of thanks

The future holds a new mission for me, one which I undoubtedly never would have stumbled upon had I kept my sanity and not declared a desire to run 103 races. As I prepare to embark on this new mission, a sudden moment of pause fell over me.

Life can in many ways play out like the board game, the spin of a wheel holding our destiny, that which feels like chance is ultimately probability. No ride can ever be completely smooth, as dictated by the cobbled sidewalk that burst my chin skateboarding as a child. However, these moments of struggle, of turbulence, are in truth wherein character is built.

Whoever ‘they’ are, they were certainly right about that.

We get caught in the comparison trap. We catch ourselves wanting. We find ourselves desiring. Thankfully, I found myself asking: who am I to complain?

There is so much in my life which I am sure I seemingly take for granted, things in actuality I am truly grateful for.

Today marks the first time my now-husband and I went out nine years ago. We were able to celebrate with a wonderful day out, a beautiful meal, dessert and more. Through the years I have only grown crazier about him, and knowing I was running to him at the finish of my first marathon really did help push me through. We have two loving adopted dogs, three cats, a home where we planted a garden. Apple, olive, avocado, lemon and orange trees were placed into the earth by our hands.

I am healthy. I come from a large, loving family. There is a job I can call my own which I truly enjoy doing, and I am able to get there and back in my own beloved little used Prius, As I type this, there is a warm little pup face pressed into the small of my back. Our home is warm. Truly, I sit here and I feel blessed.

 

Enough with comparisons. With longing. With perceived need.

Instead, I issue this thanks – a thank you from me to the universe – for this little slice of existence I get to call my own.