Internet rabbit holes can be such disturbing and dangerous places. A couple of months ago I found myself down one after reading a thing somewhere about teratomas. A few clicks and before I knew it, I was places that NO ONE SHOULD EVER GO. The human body, guys. It’s capable of amazing things and it’s also capable of some truly disgusting shit.
But not long after my teratoma terror, I fell down an absolutely lovely rabbit hole that has left some stuff rattling around in my brain ever since. First, there was this, which led to this, and while both are absolutely worth the read, it was this part that struck me and has propelled me for the last several weeks.
“If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.”
And then, THEN, unconnected to any of that, but still so so good, I read this right around the same time. I can’t overstate how much I’d recommend reading that post (and pretty much everything else Melissa O’Brien writes because goddamn, the lady has a way with words), but what hooked me was this idea, which bookended that particular post.
“I read somewhere recently a definition of hell that went like this: Hell is the moment that, when you die, the person you could have become meets the person you were… Imagine that moment…where the You you dreamed of being meets the You you were in this life. If you get a sinking feeling in your stomach thinking about that then perhaps it’s time to start looking for the door.”
So, I’ve been walking around recently with thoughts of immensities and the various versions of myself that might exist. More accurately, I’ve been running around with that stuff recently. Because here we are, yet again, three weeks out from a marathon. Marathon #8 in the so-gorgeous-and-perfect-I-can-hardly-stand-it Missoula, Montana is just around the corner. And yesterday’s 20 miler that I had to cut short at 13 due to ye olde hip flexor pain notwithstanding, I’m ready. Yeah, sure there were a few tears and a steady stream of profanities shed yesterday on my two-ish mile walk home from the place I called it quits, but it’s nothing more than a little pain that I’ve had before and know how to deal with. The 18 miler two weeks ago will have to suffice as my longest training run and I’ll spend the next three weeks running easy (except for the part where I’m racing a half marathon next weekend), stretching, strengthening, and yoga-ing.
This post isn’t about what’s going to go wrong in Missoula in three weeks. It’s about what I really really hope is going to go right. Because I’m letting myself imagine immensities.
Training has gone well this time. I’ve run so many miles in so many places, both alone and with friends and family.
There were miles in the Missoula snow in February and flat, fast miles along Lake Michigan in Chicago in March. There were Spokane miles with some Robinsons and there will be Bend miles next weekend. There were, of course, so very many Portland miles. There were slow, confidence-crushing miles at Denver elevation and surprisingly speedy miles along the Oregon Coast.
In fact, it was those magic miles in Newport a few weeks ago that really got me thinking immensely. I registered at the last minute for a half marathon and found myself crossing the finish line less than 12 hours later with a shiny new 11 minute PR, an age group third place and whole lot of, “WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?!” screaming in my head.
Six weeks out from a marathon is a dangerous time to radically readjust one’s goals, but that’s what I kinda sorta started to do after Newport. I’m calling it nothing more than a runner’s high on steroids that let me think for a few days that I might be ready to aim for a Boston qualifying time in Montana. No matter how awesome Newport was, I definitely couldn’t sustain that pace for another 13.1, which is basically what I’d have to do to qualify. So no, I’m not thinking quite that immensely yet. But I am thinking about a PR, a PR substantial enough to let me consider seriously what it would take to try in earnest for a BQ in December in Sacramento.
Who knew that a last minute half marathon in my favorite sleepy coastal town would turn out to be just the thing? The thing that has me itching to kick it up a notch, really push myself and run the risk of being very very disappointed if the speed I found that day proves to be a flash in the pan. I’ll risk that disappointment now and in the coming months and for as long as it takes me to chase down the goals I’ve started setting, because as it turns out, once you start imagining immensities, it’s pretty hard to shut them off.
And then there’s the other part. The part where Melissa O’Brien got me thinking about how, more times than I’m comfortable with, the me that I have been in this life would probably be super bummed out to meet the me that I could have been. If there’s absolutely nothing else that I’ve figured out in the last few years, it’s that the surest way to close the gap between my current self and my best self is to run. Because it’s not just about running – it’s about how pushing myself into a sometimes painful, but more often joyful place spills over into every other part of my life. I’m just better when I run. I’m better for myself and I’m better for everything and everyone around me.
So, that’s where things are at. Missoula. Three weeks. Immensities and aiming for my best self and shit. And if all that is just too touchy feely to bear – because honestly, it kind of is – how about this? One of the biggest reasons I’m so excited about this race is that there are fireworks at the start. FIREWORKS. Only one of my most favorite things ever in the history of ever. I’m excited and grateful and lucky and ready. Ready for #8 and for everything that comes next.