To the casual eye, nothing looks out of place. But an experienced runner, or someone with intimate knowledge of “nipple chaffing” can see what most cannot: The blood soaking through my shirt, dried up on the edges of my runners bib. I learned a thing or two from running 26.2 miles but the most important lesson was this: community matters. And not just in the wax poetic kind of way but in the “save your damn nipples from hurting in the shower for the next week” practical kind of way as well. Had I known nipples could chaff, I would have got NipGuards (a real product) or at least grabbed at the Vaseline various volunteers held alongside cups of water at various mile markers.
But I also learned two other lessons. First, very little in life is insurmountable. I wouldn’t have called myself a fitness warrior before that race, and I wouldn’t have called myself one at any point after that. But what started as out as running a simple mile turned into 3.1, which turned into 5, then 10, 13, 18, and finally 26.2.
But ten years later, the second lesson has been far more humbling, painful, and if I’m vulnerable with you all- deeply humiliating. The reality is this: Achievements in running are fleeting if we aren’t willing to show up everyday and put the work in for it. And so my life as of late has been the opposite of that joy and confidence I felt years prior. 26.2 miles became 18, which slipped to 13, then to 10, down to 5, until at last 3.1 became a challenge and one became the minimum at which I could still safely commit to.
As one of my great students reminded me yesterday, you’re confined only by the walls you build. For sometime now, I’ve been more than ready to break some of those walls down. And yesterday, I began to chip away at it. Continue reading