Friday, March 4, 2011

Corralled

Pardon my absence. I wasn't feeling inspired or inspiring and I don't want to post just to post. So today I'll do a combination post/forum question.

Last summer I ran in the Rock n' Roll Seattle half marathon. It was the biggest race I had ever been a part of - 30,000+ people! When I signed up I had to give my estimated pace/finish time so that they could put me into a specific corral. I was about 5 months post-baby and hadn't trained much, but decided to write down the time I'd done in my first half, just to push myself. Well, race morning was crazy. I had to walk/jog about two miles to get to the start line and then stood in an eternal line of people for the Honey Bucket (that's NW speak for port-a-potty). I saw the sea of runners moving as I stood in that line and thought, "Oh well, I'll miss my corral. It probably doesn't matter much anyway."

Well, I finished my business, ran to the start line, and saw that my corral would be the next group through...I'd made it after all! I climbed a little gate while a man yelled at me because I wasn't supposed to do that and grouped myself with my people - the people who said that they could finish a half in 2 hours and 10 minutes. Turns out my decision to be ambitious about my time was mostly a good one; I ran much faster than I would have because the people around me were running at a good pace. So even though I was struggling a bit, I kept running because slowing down would slow others down to get around me (the course was packed).

Then we got to the last mile and I was done. That's a problem when you still have a mile left. Darn me for not training more! I was so frustrated. I just couldn't get a good, sustainable pace. And when I stopped my legs would severely cramp. Stopping was no good, running was no good. It was rough. But no matter how fast or slow, I was still surrounded by people who were inspiring me to give a little more. I also saw others who were struggling like me. I said to a few runners, "Oh my gosh, when is this thing going to be over?!" "WHERE is the freaking finish line?!" I wanted someone to commiserate with; misery loves company. It felt like that last mile was really 2 or 3, but then I heard the crowd of people at the finish line which gave me the boost I needed. I was in tears and in pain. But finish I did...7 minutes behind my projected time, mostly because of that final, excruciating mile.

We are never really alone in life. We are surrounded by millions of people who are moving in the same direction...to the ultimate finish line. I think it is so important who we surround ourselves with. I think it's important to have friends and acquaintances who inspire us to be our best. I think it's important to take our eyes off of the finish sometimes and see who might be struggling so that we can help. I think it's important to set our sights high, to put ourselves in an ambitious corral, because often we can do more than we think. However, if I had put myself in a corral with people projected to finish an hour faster than I thought I could, I would have been discouraged and depressed the entire race. So we should also know our limitations in certain areas and be comfortable with them. I think it's important to be proud of your efforts even when you fall short; it took me several weeks to be okay that I finished so much slower than I'd wanted to...I wish that I hadn't wasted that time. My best is good enough, and my best is different in different times and different situations.

Fab Forum Friday Question:

What have you learned from times in your life when you've been placed in, or chosen to be in, an ambitious "corral"?

4 comments:

  1. This question will take some thinking time to respond, but for now I must say you sure have a knack for creating great life lessons from your experiences and a great talent for putting it in words. Sure love you!
    Lyndi

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  2. I don't know if it's being the youngest or what but I feel like I was often put into a corral that wasn't ambitious enough for me. It made me feel frustrated and like I could do so much better but was selling myself short, and not only did I sell myself short I think others did too.
    I use the past tense in this because I feel like long about high school I started to figure out how to PUT myself in the appropriate corral. How to see where I wanted to be and who I wanted to be with, and that really I"m the only one who knows where to put myself.
    That being said, I have learned that we all have so much to offer but it does take building some confidence. I think one of the ways we can help each other when we "take our eye off the finish line" is by helping others build confidence. It is SO hard to build your own. The whole world seems bent on telling you how you're deficient. We all need a bit 'o help sometimes.

    The short version:
    Lesson #1 We need to strive instead of settle.
    Lesson #2 Help each other build confidence it will be better for EVERYONE in the end.

    Whew that was longwinded.......sorry.

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  3. I remember when I was in my sophomore year of college, I was taking my third semester music history course (out of 4 required semesters). Among music majors, at least when I was at BYU, there's a sort of common commiseration about how the performance classes you're required to take are so time consuming and worth so few credit hours, and with practice hours on top of that, it's almost impossible to find time to study for academic classes, such as GE's and music history. Well, at this point in my life we were placed into some study group for some upcoming test. I remember sitting there and three of us were talking about how none of us had done our assignments and how stupid it was that we had to do all this studying and there was never any time and we didn't care about the test anyway... yadda yadda yadda. Well the fourth member, who I think had just transferred from some more prestigious school, finally chimed in and said something like, "I can't believe you guys! I can't believe you're not studying for this! At (whatever his other school was) people really care about their education and take initiative to learn things on their own!". It was one of those "Emperor's New Clothes" moments for me and I really tried to take his words to heart. I remember I studied a lot harder for that test than I had on any other music history test so far and I think I got an A on it which was probably the first time in 3 semesters of music history. It was just because I had decided to make it a priority and study. It sounds silly but it was a life changing experience for me and I have thought of that fellow many times since when I find myself making excuses and have to ask myself which voices I've been listening to and what my priorities are.

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  4. Holy cow. I didn't realize how long that was when I wrote it. There's no way anyone will want to read that! Ha ha! Sorry.

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