A few weeks ago I opted to have my tonsils removed. I’d had strep throat since August and had run four marathons while sick. Knowing that this is a difficult surgery for adults to endure, I’d put it off.
Nobody likes the idea that every time they swallow, great blades of fiery steel will scratch down the back of their throat for two weeks. I like to eat and the doctor was quick to tell me that my post-op diet would consist mainly of oatmeal and soft bread. All the ice cream you can eat? That’s a lie perpetuated by the cartoons of my youth. Ice cream hurt more than being rejected at the Sadie Hawkins Dance in high school.
But there came a point when the pain of recovering from surgery sounded better than the constant pain of strep. The final straw? I couldn’t bear the thought of starting 2012 with one more sore throat.
That, and I was sick of complaining to my family. Or maybe they were sick of me. Either way, it was getting tiresome, so I took action and bid adieu to those venomous tonsils.
What does this have to do with running? Well, nothing really. It’s more of an example of a bigger goal of mine this year. My goal for 2012 is to take action — to stop talking about doing things and start actually doing them. To be an active participant in my own life. To not simply exist, but to live.
I’ve already found inspiration from those around me.
Last fall, my friend Elfi was slated to run the Berlin Marathon with her husband, Rick. This was to be an extra special marathon since it’s Elfi’s home country and where she and Rick met while he was in the Army. We were all excited for them as their training ramped up.
Then some health issues reared their ugly head. Elfi suffers from bouts of vertigo that leave her disoriented and sick and unable to run safely. Rather than add unnecessary anxiety to an already difficult undertaking, Elfi chose to let Rick run this marathon alone. Instead, she and a friend rode their bikes along the course, cheering Rick on. She was happy to do it, but something didn’t sit well with her.
She had put in a lot of time training and didn’t want it to go to waste. You see, Elfi is the toughest chick I know. As a coach for the Huntsman Hometown Heroes, she prides herself on her persistence and determination. Always one to set the example, she decided to put her training to use and ran her own marathon. On a treadmill.
Yes, you read that right. She ran 26.2 miles on a treadmill. There was no pre-race expo. No fancy tech shirts and goody bags. No trophies or prizes. Just her, a few supportive friends and a treadmill.
Elfi had every good reason to skip this race and call it good. No one would have blamed her or thought less of her. Her reputation for being a tough, hard-working, dedicated runner was set. She had nothing to prove to anyone. But she trained for a race and she was going to run a race! Rather than wait for a race to happen, she made it happen herself.
I need a little more Elfi in me. I’m going to stop talking about running goals and start putting in the training to just get it done. I hope I won’t be alone.
Have you always wanted to run a 10K? Do you keep telling yourself that someday you’ll run a relay race? Have you ever looked wistfully at the faces of marathon finishers and wondered what it would be like to actually be one?
This is the year to stop wondering and start doing. What’s stopping us? Are we afraid to look stupid? To come in last? Even if we do come in last, we’re still accomplishing more than those on the sidelines, so who cares? Are we waiting for someone to invite us to be a part of their relay team? I don’t wait anymore. I make my own team.
Are we afraid of the pain and commitment of training? The pain of regret is far worse.
Are we afraid to fail? As the cliche goes, if you don’t even try, you’ve already failed.
We have nothing to lose, except maybe a few holiday pounds, and everything to gain, including pride, self-esteem, confidence and maybe a few beautiful medals.
It has been made painfully clear to me this year that life is so very short. No more waiting. No more somedays. No more laters. It’s already later and someday is today. Let’s get our shoes on and go get what we want.
Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, 24-Hour Fitness instructor and marathoner who would much rather get outside and make her running dreams come true than stay inside and make dinner.