It actually has already.
So, the Universe tricked me. It started back at the beginning of the training. I was doing reps and the rest breaks were getting continually shorter when it occurred to me that I had been running two miles for several weeks. I was focused on carefully timing the intervals, but I was covering two miles; just slowly, with rests in the middle.
More recently, I had a bigger breakthrough realization and it is this: all this time, I thought I was preparing for the Fred that is coming up in under two weeks now. And it turns out I have been doing all kinds of other things entirely.
The day of our orientation meeting in February, before I had done any running, while John Morrison and Kym Matthews were speaking to the group, I flipped ahead in the “Schedule” section of our participant booklet looking for the biggest number on the page and saw that I was ultimately expected to run nine straight miles before the Big Day. I remember thinking something like, “Hm. That’s a long way. I have no reason to believe that I can do that. But it’s interesting to see it written there on my schedule. Also interesting is the fact that I have just promised to do this.”
So I focused on the training in order to keep my promise and complete the event.
I started doing the work, which steadily grew more difficult, always thinking I had to take the next step or I would not be fit for the Fred.
In the meantime, I’ve been running three days a week since the end of February. I have advanced from a two min run/four min walk for five reps to a straight nine mile run. For the nine, I parked at John Ball Zoo, ran on a trail along the river out to Millennium Park, around a small lake there and back to the zoo. All of this involved having to overcome the gravity TRex and the feeling that running was too hard. It also involved hours of running, sometimes up steep hills, or through considerable heat, in the pre-dawn or after a day of work or on a Saturday when I was more disposed to sleeping in.
In the meantime, I’ve overcome my fears about running with my post-rectal cancer body. I was really scared to run even two minutes with that body. I’m (mostly) not anymore. I know what I need to do to successfully, neatly, run that body from John Ball Zoo to Millennium Park and back. I have not only conquered my fear but my actual condition. This involved having accidents three out of three dozen (or so) training runs. So I had to realize my fears in order to beat them. (I do wish you didn’t have to do that.) It involved strategizing and trial and error and getting way less prissy about public bathrooms.
In the meantime, I’ve reached my fundraising goals for the event. (I did that some time ago, but I didn’t want to tell you because I wanted to keep making it rain for West Michigan Trails and Greenways). That meant I had to ask for money. I started by asking a list of specific people and then I did a series of asks on Facebook. That’s a great way to set yourself up for rejection and I did get some of that. I was surprised by it and a little hurt, to be perfectly honest (I sure wish I could say that I’m so evolved, I didn’t take it personally); but even more often, I was surprised and truly moved by your generosity and I couldn’t help but take that personally too.
I felt supported by a group of people who cared about me, and my l’il struggle, who cared about John in his new job as leader of this non-profit, and who cared about the West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition and all the cool work they do supporting trails for all of us. I cannot sufficiently express how much of a boost your support gave me. I really can’t. You made me feel closer to you and like what I was doing mattered and you helped me be successful.
And finally, one last thing happened in the meantime that I want to tell you about. Something spiritual happened. There were multiple times when my brain started saying, “Okay, how about we just call this good?” when I would see a gold finch or a cardinal or an amazing sunrise or run past Blodgett hospital and get reinspired. Other runners would give me the nod or a wave or spontaneously call out encouragement (I love it when people do that).
Recently three members of our team were featured on the Rapid Growth Media website. We were sent to meet a photographer, whose knowledge of the subject of the article was limited. But when it was my turn he asked me, “Are you overcoming something?” I just responded with one word, the C word. And he replied, (he really said this) “Oh, then you’re kind of a badass, aren’t you?”
And just to bring the point home, I’ll tell you about the day I ran the nine. Nine miles was chosen for our whole group, well before the training started or I even signed up; and it happens to be one more mile than I ever ran before. So I ran one extra mile after cancer than I did before. The Saturday I did it was an improbably cool day out in front of a long hot, humid spell. I never like to commit to a specific starting time because I do some hemming and hawing and negotiating with my body about that but I arrived at the zoo in perfect time for Mariah Carey to finish singing “A Hero Lies in You” (I know, it’s almost corny and might seem a little grandiose but if you listen to those lyrics, its perfect and it applies to everyone) and I parked and got out and some big clock near there chimed nine. Within the first mile, a bike zipped past me and Shelley Irwin sang out, “Hey there, Jen Morrison!” I mean, I kind of felt like the Universe loved me that day.
So, this “meantime” thing that’s been happening, that’s actually the Thing, the hard thing, the (really) good thing. The Fred is just two days out of my life.