Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Because I Wasn't Busy Enough

On Monday, Mighty Girl wrote about dithering over decisions. To be fair, she wrote about it because O Magazine wrote about it, but I like the passage from The Bell Jar that Maggie quoted best:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
I feel quite a bit like this right now, not that it isn’t typical of folks my age. To be fair to myself, I have made some decisions. When I met the Grige, three years ago, I pulled the plug on my Peace Corps application. I knew when I looked at him that I wanted to marry him and that was the fig I was going to focus on. Hopefully the others would follow. So here we are, planning a wedding and a life together, and some of the other figs are within reach – We’re moving west, not quite far enough for my taste, but it’s progress; It’s likely that we’ll spend a semester abroad next year; He supports my ambitions to run my own business and constantly challenges me intellectually. I don’t regret my choice to pursue the Grige fig first.
I chose this path
However, it’s a little challenging to do everything on his schedule. I feel a bit more like a piece of complaining luggage than an equal partner given the way his career plans are driving every bit of our lives right now. We’re having the wedding on a tight schedule and skipping the honeymoon to accommodate his grad school start date, we’re moving to a city that was last on my wish list because a great architecture school is there, where and when we live abroad will be determined by his school requirements – I’m constantly molding my life and expectations to accommodate his and frankly, I’m fed up. Even if it is fairly in line with my goals as well, I’m sick and tired of not having any control (and doing all the dishes).
There it is....
Which brings me to a decision I may soon regret: I’m going to run a marathon. Let me correct that – I’m going to try to run a marathon. I’ve chosen the Grand Rapids Marathon ( on Sunday, October 21. The timing coincides perfectly with my plans to leave my job and move, while giving me 18 weeks to train. I’ll be attending a memorial for my Grandfather in MI the weekend before and was then planning to officially take up residence in St. Louis. I’ll spend the week after the memorial with my parents, run the race, and then hop on the train with a few bags of ice to begin my new life as a marathoner.
So, I’m sure you’re thinking that I’m nuts and wondering how on earth I ever convinced myself that this was even do-able, let alone a good idea. I’ll walk you through it:

1.       You have your own wedding, a move and another wedding that you are a bridesmaid in during training. You will have no time for this:
Fair points. However, I specifically set up my “step back” weeks to fall on big events. I’ll be stepping back during my bachelorette party, my wedding week, and moving week as well as several big work weekends. I’ll be tapering by the time Jess’ wedding rolls around. My longer runs will be a great way to say goodbye to DC and get to know St. Louis during the move.

2.       The whole reason you are staying in DC is to work through the busy season. Won’t you be too busy for marathon training?
Possibly, but I don’t think so. My weekday runs are definitely short enough to fit in before work, and will probably even ease my commute by getting me out the door early. We have a nice gym in the basement of my office building, so it will be possible to fit my runs in at other times as well. I won’t have the Grige to run home to, and it will be nice to have something else to look forward to. Also, I find that having physical goals to focus on helps me deal with mental stress. Zoning out on a 15 mile long run is a great way to leave work stress behind.

3.       Wait – Aren’t you always talking about how you don’t really like running and how you aren’t very good at it?
Yes! The thing is, I’ve always dreamed of doing a marathon, precisely because it seems so impossible. It’s the ultimate way to boost my self-confidence and break down my mental barriers. Also, marathon training isn’t about speed. The marathon I signed up for doesn’t have a time-limit, and even offers an early start for anyone who is worried about needing more than 6 hours. Training will be all about “time on my feet”, and running slowly, but steadily. Walking breaks will be part of the deal on all my long runs, and my overall goal is to finish the marathon on my own two legs with a smile on my face.

4.       How is training for a marathon going to help you feel more in control of your life?
First of all, running a marathon is on my life list, so it signifies progress for me personally. Second of all, it’s something that is only about me, nobody else. Meeting that weekly physical goal should keep me motivated and confident, since every single week of training will be a personal distance record (PDR) for me, so it will be hard to get down on myself if I have a bad run – I won’t have anything to compare to. Finally, The marathon I’ve chosen is pretty laid back about dropping down to the ½ marathon if I change my mind. Even a ½ would still be a huge accomplishment for me, but since I have time I’m going to go for the full.

So I’ll be sure to keep you updated as training goes along. Wish me luck!

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome! I didn't get into it the other night, but I trained for a marathon which I ran two weeks before my own wedding and it was a great decision. Yes, it was one more thing I had to fit in in the middle of a really busy time in work and life, but it was something that was all about ME. Where I could just be me, and focus on me and be accountable to only ME. It was great for me. :) Would you consider coming to PR's DTP with me on Sunday? I think you would love Taneen and group training could be just would you need (it's a huge help even if you don't go to it all, which I don't). And we can run after work together! I love a long run all over the city on a Friday night!