Tomorrow afternoon, I will run the first of three legs for my The Relay team, Eat.Blog.Run. I will run in spite of the fact that I was sick last week and have a nasty lingering cough; that my run last Thursday was my first on pavement in a month; that my run on Monday was awful; that my left knee hurts or that I feel woefully under-prepared. You may think I’m crazy. If so, you are not alone.
In the six weeks since I committed to this race, I’ve been asked by friends, colleagues, family and strangers variations of one question: Why? Or, asked another way, “Do you really think this is a good idea?” which continues (unstated, of course), “because I don’t.”
I wish this skepticism was new to me. But it’s not. I’ve dealt with these doubts before, from others and from myself. Afterall, what fun is life if you only do what you’re confident you can accomplish?
The irony, at least to me, is that I am a lot less confident than people who know me may believe. In fact, yesterday, I joked with a colleague that she hurt my ego and she said, “I highly doubt that.” I replied, as we were both laughing, “Are you saying I’m egotistical?” “No, no. I just don’t think of you as lacking in confidence,” she replied. Shows what she knows.
The truth is I use these challenges, these “big hairy audacious goals” as Jim Collins would call them, to build my confidence, to build my character. I need to do these crazy things to prove to myself that I can.
I love the feeling of euphoria that comes from accomplishing a goal (especially a physical one). That feeling is what I think about as I’m training. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about for the past six weeks. It’s a feeling of satisfaction that nourishes my soul. It motivates me to keep going when everything in my mind and body are telling me it’s too hard.
People in my life have done the same for me. They’ve motivated me, pushed me, they believed in me even when I didn’t necessarily believe in myself. They had the foresight to see what I was capable of in spite of myself.
My family tops that list (I’ll still never forget the feeling I had the first time Scoot told me that he was proud of me) but there are others. They include my third grade teacher Mr. Silvers, my sixth grade teacher Mrs. Saperstein, my junior high English teacher Mr. Airoldi, my junior high guidance counselor Mrs. Krumboltz, my counselor/therapist Dave, my best friend’s parents Anne and Don, my club soccer coach Mr. Tippit, my political science professor and pre-law advisor Professor Weiner, my assistant dean Dean Johnson, my political science professor Professor Pomper, my college roommate Catherine, my former colleague and dear friend Erin, and my soccer team’s captain Dave. Like the proverbial angel on my shoulder, I carry these people with me as I run, and in life. I know that they are my biggest cheerleaders. I need them.
The others, the parents of friends who thought their kids were too good for me, the teachers and professors who graded me on what homework I turned in rather than what I learned, the soccer coach who told me, at the age of fourteen, that my success on the field was attributable to him and my failure was attributable to me, those people have been proven wrong time and time again. I carry those devils on my shoulder with me as well. The doubters, the skeptics, the people who are expecting to rubberneck as I crash and burn push me to keep going. I need them too.
To my angels, I say a heart-felt thank you. I am nothing without you. And to my biggest fans, DJ and B-Bop, I hope someday you’ll understand that I push myself to achieve my goals in large part so you’ll know you too can do anything you put your mind to.
To my devils I say, doubt me. Go ahead. I’ll just continue to prove you wrong.
I can go the distance.
**If you’d like to follow the progress of me and my teammates, follow @EmmieJ and @eatblogrun on Twitter. I’ll try to keep my Facebook status updated as well. If you live in the Bay Area, come out and cheer us on! Google The Relay to find a course map.**