Hey, remember that time I was supposed to be training for my first marathon?
So, here’s the thing: I’m still sad. As I’ve mentioned before, I really thought I’d be “fine” by June, the starting month of my original training plan. But I wasn’t. And I’m still kind of not?
But I am better. Today I went on a long friendship walk and had an excellent breakfast taco, and I feel better. It is getting easier to cook and to enjoy the new Muppets series and to wake up with my alarm. It is getting easier.
So, what about running? As with writing, I have a hard time getting started with anything when I don’t already feel perfect at it. Knowing and anticipating that I’m going to struggle with something is a hard mental block for me to overcome. Because I know I’m going to struggle when I start actually jogging or whatever we’re calling it again. It’s going to be hard and boring and my knees are going to creak and it’s not going to be FUN.
I’ve been walking a lot. I’ve been covering my original training plan’s distances, so, for example, a dear friend and I walked 9 miles together this past Saturday. And it was really lovely. We talked about all sort of things and the weather wasn’t too bad and (again, always) there were tacos at the finish line.
I’ve got a new potential start date: September 21. I picked a shorter plan which involves more mileage per week. If we’re friends, I apologize in advance, because I am going to be super not fun for those couple of months. I’m going to be going to bed early in order to wake up early and shove a banana into my face. I wasn’t ready in June, but I suspect now that this isn’t really a question of being “ready.”
It’s been a struggle to allow myself to feel good, to feel proud, to feel enough. I am still punishing myself for crimes real and perceived.
To run/walk/stumble through an entire marathon would mean to feel inarguably proud of myself. I want that. It’s what I like best about long distances. I cannot argue with myself about the accomplishment of it. I cannot talk myself out of it having been hard, but that I did it anyway.
I don’t think I am ready. But perhaps I am determined to free myself from the expectations of readiness. I will cover these distances, short and long, and sometimes I will feel fucking terrible, and I suspect I will still choke on my own sobs in the middle of the night sometimes, and I think I will probably still eat more bagels than I will eat sensible meals of lean protein and vegetables.
This marathon, in my heart, is meant to be a celebration. It is to celebrate one of the longest and most special, enduring friendships of my entire life. It is to celebrate my life long love for all things Disney World. It is to celebrate MY BODY EXACTLY AS IT IS, not an inch smaller or lighter or anything. Each part of this machine will be a part of my undeniable joy on that January morning, belly, hips, every squish and angle.
My friend and I are still figuring out how we want to costume ourselves for the race, but… I mean, I really always knew, didn’t I? Friendship discussions pending, I think it’s probably RIGHT that I do this thing as an homage to my guy, Kermit. I already have a hat and a tank top and a backpack and…
All my favorite Disney or adjacent quotes are variations on the same theme, after all:
Keep Moving Forward.
Go the Distance.
I guess I was wrong when I said I didn’t promise anyone. I promised me.
(All that said: dear Julie, if you’re reading this, Monsters, Inc. would be entirely perfect for us. I really wouldn’t have nothing if I didn’t have you.)
I’m not giving up on my marathon dreams and I’m not giving up on my training. I am opening new doors and doing new things and I am moving forward. Slowly, yeah, but forward all the same.
Because I have this impractical fantasy (of course) that I will cross that finish line and maybe I will have simply sweat some of the goblins out of my system. Maybe finishing a marathon will be a step forward in teaching myself how to love and live with myself. I want that. I really want that. I want that more than I want Dole Whip or riding Tower of Terror or watching fireworks.
It isn’t up to the marathon to transform me. It is up to me to allow myself to experience joy and want and pride again. It is up to me to crawl my way from the finish line back to our hotel with one of my very best friends and to mutually bemoan our inability to move. It is up to me to release the grip of shame and hatred I have so tightly on my own heart.
I promised me.