On Trying, Failing, and the Importance of Showing Up

Oct 8 2011

I can think no better way to usher in my 38th birthday than by running a half-marathon.

Woohoo!  The wind in my hair.  Legs hitting the pavement in a steady thump-thump.  Butt rising and ker-plopping with each stride.

Coincidentally, I turn 38 this Thursday, October 13th and I’m registered to run a half-marathon on Sunday the 16th.

My friend, Abbie, and I agreed to run this half-marathon together.  Not only did we agree to run it, we actually agreed on what running means.

See, some of your more shorty-shorts-wearing runners out there think that running means beating your personal record, putting up a good fight, and finishing strong.  They’re the runners who jog back and forth at the start line for, like, a half hour before the race.  Also, they’re prepared, driven, and mentally strong.  I, on the other hand, am one of the people with a parka and mittens huddled en masse with others of my kind who can’t imagine expending more energy than the race is about to suck out of us with a straw.

Abbie and I agreed that running a half marathon means accepting that our knees will be bloody from crawling to the finish line.  We also promised to puke our guts up facing away from each other.  That’s friendship, ladies and gentlemen.

Abbie instant messaged me last night.  She noted that she is doing exactly what she needs to be doing at this point in race preparation.

Tapering down on the length of the run to give your body a rest before the big run?  Check!  Abbie and I are on track.

Carbo-loading with enormous amounts of pasta?  Check!  It’s never too early to carbo-load, I always say.

And then Abbie wrote this, which I just copied and pasted from my chat history:

Abbie: Um Beth? I have a terrible horrible no good, very bad confession to make…
Me: Oooh! I love those!
Abbie: Well, uh… I haven’t gone jogging, training, or even walking to prepare for our 13.1 MILE HALF MARATHON IN TEN DAYS.  Not once.
Me: I can NOT believe it!
Abbie: CRAPBALLS
Me: That is TERRIBLE.
Abbie: NO GOOD. VERY BAD.
Me: Why, if I’d failed that horribly, I might’ve called my cousin, Jen, who’s super duper extra fit and asked her to run in my place.  (Which, um, is exactly what I did.)
Abbie: GIVE ME HER NUMBER.
Me: Last month. 😀
Abbie: SHUT UP!!!  You butthead.
Me: I KNOW.  I SUCK.

 

Truly, I can think of no better way to usher in my 38th birthday than by running a half-marathon.  So it really is too bad that it’s not gonna happen.

And, by “not gonna happen,” I mean it is Not. Gonna. Happen.  Like, I can run a half of a half-marathon at the moment.  And that’s just not gonna cut it.

Way back when I agreed to try this half marathon insanity, I said, “I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.”  And now I have to decide whether I meant it.  Don’t ya hate it when Reality dives out of the dark just to bite you on the butt?  On the rising and ker-plopping butt?

Running hasn’t gone according to plan.

Wait.  Scratch that.

I meant to say:  So what that running hasn’t gone according to plan?

It’s only right that I look back on the past few months and assess what’s gone well and what has patently sucked.  The final analysis isn’t in: I suspect I’m going to spend most of my nursing home years recovering from Life Whiplash and trying to figure out What The Heck Happened.

But the short term analysis is this:  I’m a busy mom.  I did the best I could except when I could’ve done better.  My running improved, albeit not as much as I hoped or planned.  And, perhaps most importantly in running and in parenting: 1) The effort is never a waste, and 2) I’m chalking up a win for all the times I tied on my shoes and showed up.

I suppose it’s only right that it takes someone who’s failed to be able to say, with conviction:  I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.

In conclusion, I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.

……….

Kay Update: I linked to a post above about racing.  In it, I mentioned my niece, little Miss Kay, who is 5 years old and has spent half of her life battling leukemia.  In February, right around the time I decided to run the half marathon, Kay was diagnosed with a recurrence of the leukemia we thought she had beat.

I’m ecstatic to tell you today that my niece is cancer-free. For those of you who sent your wishes or prayers for Kay and her mom and dad, we’re so grateful.  The cord blood donation to replace her bone marrow was a success.  I’m thrilled to report that, in September, Kay was able to move back home.  Sometime this winter, she plans to start Kindergarten.

There are thousands of patients who are waiting and hoping for a bone marrow donor who can make a life-saving transplant possible.  You may have the power to save a life.  Please, for the sake of a kid like Kay, join the bone marrow registry now.  It costs you nothing, and it could save a family everything.