I have often been asked to chime in on the mental game of an athlete, to help those who compete to do so with a strong mind and clear nerves. So this blog would usually be just that…before the big race “how to” when it comes to mental toughness. That is my job, my expertise. I have talked pro athletes down from the cliff of “I can’t” and held their hands when nerves were just too big. I have dried tears, consoled and reassured. I have inspired and motivated and raised hands for those champions who got it done.
I have been that person for many. This is what I do for a living.
But this blog isn’t about any of that. Well, not directly. This is about an internal triumph that perhaps you will relate to. You may be able to insert your “I” for mine. This blog is personal. This is about showing up, in all of our doubts, in all of our insecurities. This is about what happens when we just…show up.
For years I have coached others. For years I have allowed myself to come last when it comes to my advice. I have not listened as often to my own words of wisdom. I have doubted myself. I didn’t honor the victor inside. My story was so much like so many others I have heard and read. I wasn’t a runner. I couldn’t run more than a mile. You have heard all of this before. Some of you have lived it. But when I signed up to run Broad Street I didn’t know I would actually do it. I figured all the reasons I couldn’t do anything like that my whole life would now stand up and remind me they existed.
But still they sit.
And I am the one standing.
In the cold 9 degree weather this winter, I showed up. Despite the moments of “Should I hit snooze and forget?” and the cold and my body not meshing well. I still showed up. And the reasons were so much beyond the running. I showed up for the people. For those we ran for and those we ran with. For the names we carry in our hearts and on our ribbons. For those who can’t. We show up.
I spent time the other day writing out the names on the ribbons I will wear on Sunday. Those who are fighting, or who have fought and are no longer here. For those who have raised their hands as victors beyond cancer. For those who are somewhere in between. Each name made me feel deeper. Each name gave me purpose beyond running these ten miles on Sunday. I have been thinking about the run from the moment I signed up. I thought about how it will be long. How hard it may be with all those people. I thought about my time and my pace and what to do and how to do it. Hydration, food, gels and beans, water and electrolytes, what to wear, how to wear it, socks, running shoes, knee brace or no knee brace. I have thought of it all. And we were weeks away when this began. As Sunday gets closer, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t at all nervous. But I can say that my focus isn’t on all that stuff anymore. I am not really worried about time or anything else that may be a dictator in how those two hours are spent.
My focus is on the names on the ribbons. My focus is on standing. Showing up. And making those miles mean something more than just the time it took to run them or how much water I consumed in the process or what I wore on my head. I worked hard to stand in the face of my fear and vulnerability and doubts. I worked hard to raise the money, to show up to as many runs as I could so my body would know how to do it. I worked hard to believe in myself. And with the help of each of you I can do this.
But this isn’t even about that anymore. My story has been built around the “I can’t to I did” mantra and while that has inspired me to keep rewriting the old story I used to tell myself, these ten miles are not about me. I will show up for every mile, for every moment and for every person I see along the way, cheering or running next to me. I am showing up for all of it. For me, for my family and my Team CMMD family. For my partner who will stand beside me to finish what we started together. For everyone who thought they couldn’t do this. For the kid inside who was afraid to stand out. For the names on my ribbons. Especially for the names on my ribbons.
We run ten miles, we fight on.
And we stand.
And we show up.