Have you ever set a goal, no matter how big or small, stuck to it and realized as you were literally in the middle of accomplishing that goal, your life will be forever changed by the simple choice to go for it?
This past Saturday, I ran my first ever race at age forty-six. I started with a half marathon in Rocky Mountain National Park at 8000’ elevation. Challenging myself physically, mentally and even emotionally has been a lifelong theme. Although I did not cross the finish line first, I did finish the race, and this I considered a personal victory on many levels.
The race was more symbolic than just “jogging 13.1 miles” for me. I am entering a new phase of my life. I am finally awake and open like I have never been before. Moving forward in the race I call Life with my heart, soul and mind wide open. No more fighting for control, no more attempts at taking others energy in order to be ‘right,’ no more standing silent, no more selling of my soul in order to keep the peace or in hopes of making someone else feel better about themselves. I am choosing to live from love, to let go, to stand up for those who can not stand up for themselves, to give a hand up, to welcome people into my life who will call me out on my bullshit, who can lovingly say, “I want to reflect something back to you” when I revert back to my fears without realizing it.
Looking back on the race Saturday, I am not sure I would have done it had a dear friend from grade school not been there at the start and finish line running with me. I barely trained at all. I was unable to figure out how to train with small children around me 24/7. The night before I am not sure I even slept for two hours. I got up at 2:56am in order to get to the race by 5am. I was scared. What if I didn’t make it? What if my blood sugar dropped and I passed out? What if my knee or ankle that have both had several surgeries gave out? Every fear I could possibly imagine raced through my head on the drive up. But, then in the darkness of the extreme early morning, I saw not one but two shooting stars. I thought about the light, the brilliance, the energy that makes up a shooting star. I knew that same radiant energy was in me. I knew whatever I imagined, whatever I visualized, I would create.
So, as I drove up the windy mountain canyon, with nothing but the blackness of the night and the incredible luminous of all the stars above me, I realized I could do anything I put my mind to. I knew my body would follow what I believed was possible. I imagined myself at the finish line. I imagined my powerful legs carrying me wherever I chose to go. I called on my spirit guides, my animal guides and all those who have gone before me. I asked for their support, their guidance. I asked them to watch over me and give me strength both mentally and physically. I asked them to send me animals along the way to remind me how connected and powerful I am. I was scared and I chose to let go of the fear and believe in my true power, in my connectedness.
I picked my friend up at his hotel at 5am. I was a hot mess. I forgot my socks, which we had to run back and get. I left my water bottles, my snacks, but remembered the sunscreen because that is a definite at 5am. Honestly, I was a wreck and felt like throwing up. We got to the start line and there were hundreds of people. It was a cool, crisp, gorgeous morning in Estes Park. The music was blaring and there were people of all shapes and sizes jumping around. All of the sudden, my fears were gone and I knew I could accomplish anything. As we jogged around the lake, with mist rising off the water and ducks swimming everywhere, I saw a doe grazing not two feet away from me which calmed me down.
A couple of other girls and I that were from Missouri decided to sprint down this big hill just for the fun of it. This was mile three. By mile four, my hip and hamstring were killing me. I decided no matter what I was going to finish. I kept pushing on my hamstring where it attaches to my hip in an attempt to get it to release. When it absolutely was not going to give, I decided to crank up the tunes and drown out the noise in my head telling me I was in serious pain. The music helped immensely and I was grateful I forgot my food and water but not my music!
By mile 7.5, my feet were losing feeling. I wondered if this was normal. I mean during my training I had not made it past 3.5 miles, so I was clueless. By mile 8, my feet felt raw on the bottom, my hamstring wouldn’t loosen up and I wanted to lay down in the tall grass and stretch my whole body for the rest of the day. Two hummingbirds appeared right in front of me. They appeared to be playing Tag with each other. I decided as I watched them, that I simply needed to have fun and enjoy the beauty of my surroundings. I even received a helpful boost from a friend whom I hallucinated was tugging me up a steep and prolonged hill. At mile 12, two hawks flew out from the west straight towards me. They then circled above my head once and flew off to the east. I laughed out loud knowing the Natives believe hawk is a messenger from the spirit world. It literally was a message from all those I had asked before the race to send me light, strength and belief in my abilities. I thanked them, stayed present in the moment and kept on going even though I honestly could not feel my feet by then.
I came upon another woman about that time. Her phone had died so she had no music left to listen to. We started talking and found out we lived about 10 blocks from each other, both had small children and both thought we would have been able to train a lot more before the race. Instead, neither of us were ever able to figure out how to train appropriately with two little kids. This was her first half marathon, also. We agreed to cross the finish line together even though neither of us could feel our feet. My friend John met us at mile 12.5 and as we crossed the finish line, I felt proud, relieved and grateful to my dear childhood friend for being there for me in the beginning and end.
Today is day three post-race. I feel great other than a very sore toe. The feeling of accomplishment, of dedication to finishing, of the strength of my body feels like a testament to the spirit of my soul.
Just like this race, life is lesson upon lesson, letting go of what we have learned, being vulnerable, forgiving ourselves, being present, loving with a heart that is wide open no matter how many times that heart has been broken. Life is picking ourselves up and allowing others to help us put all the pieces back together. Life is holding the mirror up for others so that they may see the brilliance inside of them, too. Life is a process, each lesson a precious reminder of what we have forgotten and how much we must unlearn. By living true to our self, by truly opening to love, to the brilliant light within ourselves, we can truly set the entire world on fire. Seek out your own “race” and go run it because the world needs us all living our best life now!
Photo credit to John Grube