“I think [your best friend] would agree with me. You’ve quit a lot of things.” The words of my husband.
I remember when he said this. We were sitting at the dining room table among a landmine of crumbs that the baby left scattered along the floor and the top of the dining room table. My daughter’s day-old undies and dress found home on the treadmill after I asked her to change her clothes for the seventh time in a row. The heat had just kicked on, and I held my breath because I knew the gas bill was climbing in price.
What he said hit me hard because it’s true. I have started and stopped a lot of things. I have pages and pages of failed business ideas and attempts. Writing jobs that only paid $5 per 500 words. Mounds of starter kits from when I was roped into direct sales via manipulation and false promises.
But through it all, one thing remained constant: running. From my first “run” around the block at 3 pm during the thick of August in 2014 to training for the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, running is the only thing I’ve continued to show up for.
I wish I could explain my life the past few years. I’m not sure it can be done in a neatly packed, Kon-Mari’d style fold. The truth is that it isn’t neatly tucked away – the decisions I’ve made still haunt me at the oddest times. At 1:24 a.m., I startle myself awake after tossing and turning about my decision to walk away from my role as founder and director of the Youngstown Marathon. As the baby chugs his 5 oz bottle in the afternoon, my eye catches a box of useless materials to host Usborne Book Parties – materials that I’ve never used or even planned on using, but that were part of an “opportunity” that I thought would “save me.”
At one time, these were mirages of success. Now, they’re ticking time-bombs that explode and cause anxiety or arguments or tears.
And guys – I have been so so hard on myself. More than I’d like to admit, I’ve looked in the mirror at my fully done face and said, “You just don’t get it – you’ve ruined a lot of stuff. How’s that feel?”
But through all of it – the stress, the financial insecurity, the tears, the sleepless nights, the mascara streaks that have drawn portraits of fear across my cheeks…I’ve shown up to get my miles in.
Among all of those useless boxes of stuff and all of the memories of what I tried to do and ultimately left behind, I continue to put one foot in front of the other both figuratively and literally.
I continue to pound the pavement because I know that my soul (and my soles) needs that gentle shake of positive reinforcement.
When I look in the mirror and see someone who has failed, running and training for this grueling distance overshadows those thoughts. Yes, I may have failed at things. Yes, I may have “given up” on from what I originally started. But you can bet I show up every day that it’s humanly possible and put the work and miles in.
I have spent so much time focusing on how I’ve “given up” or “failed” at so much. Training for the marathon has reminded me that I’m not a quitter, that I don’t give up on everything, and that I have the heart of someone who keeps going even when things are hard.
It has shown me that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t give up out of laziness or fear – but that I moved on because I know that there are bigger and better things in my future. I never, ever thought I’d be training for a full marathon. I know everyone says that, but I’m serious – I didn’t go for my first run until age 27 and I hated every single second of it.
I clearly don’t have a typical training update for you or some kind of insight to help you stay warm or fuel properly or whatever. But what I do have is perspective that even when you define yourself as someone who is fearful or unaccomplished, think about how you run. Think really hard about how when everyone else is “too busy,” you freaking show up and do this. Think about how your kids don’t know the ins-and-outs of all of your decisions, but they DO know that you are dedicated to this sport.
“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to change your life, run a marathon.” – Emily Zatopek
Join me in the 2019 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon or Half Marathon! You can save $10 using code POULLASDSGPM19 at registration checkout.