On The Road

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I’ve never been regarded as an athlete.

My youth is littered with a variety of physical forays – about seven years on the Harper’s Harpoons swim team, about as many years playing soccer in Cincinnati, a few years of horseback riding (I prefer an English saddle to western).

I did tennis camp as a kid, gymnastics for a couple years. I was even on the track and field team in high school (shot put and discus).

My parents gave me plenty of opportunities to find athleticism. And while swimming is probably my favorite sport, I was never considered the neighborhood’s next Janet Evans.

Some may mistake my lack of athletic prowess for laziness, but I would counter by saying it’s more a lack of discipline, which is an entirely different thing. As an eight-year-old soccer fullback, I was more interested in the clover and dandelions growing in the field than I was the action near the goal.

Distractions do well to pull my focus away from the task at hand – both in athletics and life’s other endeavors. It makes for an interesting challenge.

What can I say? I sometimes struggle with commitment. I know I am not alone in this challenge.

So when I started running in June, I timidly wondered when I’d hang up the shoes and focus my energies on yet another interest.

I waited six months to invest in decent running shoes, instead jogging in flimsy, well worn walking shoes I bought for a trip to Europe four years prior. I didn’t want to make a financial commitment to something I was unsure would take.

But I knew something had to give. I’d returned from a trip to India a month earlier that gave me pause and opportunity to evaluate my life. Significant changes needed to be made. My life’s health and happiness depended on it.

Literally.

I analogized my body to a house. When you want to put a house on the market, you get it ready for potential buyers. You spruce it up. You make changes to boost its curb appeal. You do some staging.

I needed to get my body ready for market.

And while the running was a means to an end – I’ve lost over 30 pounds and counting – I had no idea how it would translate to other changes in my life.

The act of running has given me the gift of intentional meditation and thought. When I am on the road, I have time to ponder the challenges, tasks and opportunities facing my life.

It’s the one time I have zero distraction, and that is worth all the money in the world.

And running has offered me some amazing physical challenges. In June, the thought of running for five minutes straight seemed like a daunting task.

Last weekend I proved to myself that I could run for more than two and a half hours straight.

I wept as I neared the finish line. My thoughts trailed off to the past seven months and the self doubt I harbored, the discipline I’d demonstrated, and the physical challenge I overcame.

I can do anything my heart and soul desire.

A week after my first half marathon, I’m thinking about the next two races on my list. I’m running a half marathon in Lexington at the end of March, and I also intend on running Cincinnati’s Flying Pig half marathon.

Beyond that, I imagine there will be plenty more challenges. I’m already mulling a trip to China in May 2013 to run a half marathon on the Great Wall.

Anything’s possible, right?

You bet.