In late 2012, I brought a group of runners together to do the LA Marathon and raise money for Camp Kesem. On Sunday, the team will do the race…without me.
It would be easy to say “I’m not running because I’m injured,” but it would also be untrue. I’m injured, yes, but that isn’t why I’m not running. See, up until yesterday, standing over the sink doing dishes on one foot - I planned on doing the race. My friends and teammates came over yesterday. We made signs, one of them even says my name.
I won’t be seeing it from the course. Knowing me, I’ll probably cry when I throw it away because I will feel like I gave up on something. I’ll probably cry because I will feel like a quitter, like I have somehow fallen short of some enormous expectation of self. (Believe me, they are gargantuan), like I have disappointed Camp Kesem, its children, and the reason it means so much to me.
Like I have somehow disappointed my mother.
When I was a kid, The Princess Bride reigned #1 movie in our home. We would sit at the dinner table, my mother would look at me and she would say:
“So, it is down to you - and it is down to me.”
We would reenact the poison scene over leftovers, with dinner being over when Vizzini was dead. Yesterday, as I prepared for the party, I was in the shower, washing my hair, grimacing, and bearing most of my weight on my left foot because my right just couldn’t take it, when my mother flashed through my mind.
In my mind, she was doing her very best Count Rugen; she looked at me and said:
“Good heavens, are you still trying to win? You’ve got an overdeveloped sense of commitment. It’s going to get you into trouble someday.”
My laugh echoed in the shower. The real Count Rugen says “vengeance.”
“It’s vengeance, mom.” I said aloud.
My imaginary mother again called up her best Count Rugen and repeated “…You’ve got an overdeveloped sense of commitment. It’s going to get you into trouble someday.”
Last night, awake in the hours I am usually sleeping – I thought a lot about commitment; I thought a lot about my goals.
What is my goal?
To qualify for the Boston Marathon.
As sure as I know I was washing dishes standing on one foot yesterday, I know I won’t be qualifying for Boston in LA on Sunday. Even if I woke pain free Sunday morning, I am unconditioned to finish a marathon in under 3:40. So, running LA either moves me closer to my goal or farther from it. I’m not a doctor, but it stands to reason that putting 26.2 miles on an ankle that doesn’t want to do the work involved in washing dishes is a bad idea if what I really want to do is run 26.2 miles in under 3:40.
What is not my goal?
My goal is not to finish the LA Marathon; I’ve done that.
I don’t need to prove to myself that I can endure pain; as someone who spent most of her 20’s in alcoholic misery, I think I have a pretty good grasp on the sort of hell I can handle - and a marathon on an injured ankle has nothing on that.
I don’t need to prove that I value commitment; I demonstrate this every day in the way I live my life, in the way I do my job, and in the way I treat people I love.
So, I’ll be at the race on Sunday, but instead of making the trek to the starting line early that morning, you’ll probably find me in the backyard, covered in poster paint, making signs to cheer on the people I love and remind them that:
“Running sucks. YOU are awesome.”
I’m going to focus on healing.
I’ll see you in Boston.