It’s Only A Mountain

I don’t like running. I never have. I didn’t used to call myself a runner. But that’s changed.

When I moved to Florida, a commitment I made to myself before the move was that if it is nice in FL in the winter, I need to make the most of it. I decided to sign up for a half marathon in December of 2018. I googled something along the lines of “best half marathons in US”. I looked at quite a few and not until I stumbled upon the Vacation Races website was I actually excited to run a half marathon. This was a thing that had been on my yearly goals for the last 3 years or so and I just never did it. So 2019 was the year to not only complete a goal but to travel to Glacier National Park (another goal) to do it.

I ran (and walked) that half marathon up one side of mountain and down the other. After I got home from my half, I stopped running. I did the race. I was done, or so I thought.

Those 6 or so months I trained for my half were so grounding. I was going through a lot of change and hard things and that half training was the stability among the chaos. It was consistent, expected, and became a weekly rhythm for my first six months of 2019.

Fast forward to February 2020. I was craving pushing myself to new limits. To experience the grounding I had the year prior. To celebrate the strength of my body and the sun of the FL winter. So in my own boldness (or stupidity?) I signed up for another half marathon through the same company. This time I decided on a September race in the Black Hills of South Dakota where you run right up to Mount Rushmore. This was going to allow me to check off another National Park (Wind Cave National Park), as well as travel to one of my favorite states of South Dakota, AND I got to experience history. I was so stoked to complete another half marathon out west. And then I realized, it’s up a bigger mountain than the last.

That’s what happens in life though, isn’t it? You conquer one mountain, and when you get to the top you realize there’s a bigger mountain ahead?

Dierks Bentley’s lyrcis from the song, “The Mountain” speak of exactly that.

It was only a mountain, nothing but a big ol’ rock
Only a mountain, it ain’t hard if you don’t stop
It just took a little step, a right then a left
Then a couple million more, who’s counting?
Yeah, that’s only a mountain

Well you better know the bottom if you wanna be a climber
‘Cause there’s always another one a little bit higher
Just when I think I’m finally done I’m staring at another one
So I reach down deep and I lace ’em up tighter

I conquered one mountain. To run 13.1 miles. And now I am training for the next mountain. To do something harder. To do it better. And to make myself proud.

I was talking to a friend the other day and we were talking about why I run. She thinks I’m crazy to like running, and I just agree with her, because to want to run 13.1 miles up and down a mountain requires a little bit of crazy.

Something I shared with her was that when you are training for any type of race, the only person you are showing up for is yourself. Unlike going to work, where someone expects you to be there at a certain time, to do a certain job, with specific expectations, the person you show up for when you run is you. You decide whether or not to put the work in that day. You decide whether it’s a day you want to delay or a day you want to stay committed. It’s easy to skip a run during the week. It’s easy to do it a few times. Who is noticing? Just you. The person who you broke a promise to when you skip a run, is yourself. The person that will be disappointed when you miss a few runs, or don’t get the pace or time you wanted, is you. You get to decide whether you want to show up to for yourself, or if you are willing to break your own promises.

The way you grow in self confidence is not to break promises to yourself. I grew in my own self worth and my own confidence from running. Not because I hit a certain time or certain miles or lost a specific amount of weight. I grew in my confidence because I showed up for myself again, and again, and again. Did I miss some runs? You bet I did. But did I get back on that treadmill, or that road, or that path? You bet I did that too.

So this year, I plan to do it again. Show up for myself. Get up and go on my long run when I don’t want to. Run on the treadmill in the mornings when it’s still dark out. Fly on a plane by myself, to a state by myself, to run a half marathon by myself. Because I am doing this for me.

Just when I think I’m finally done I’m staring at another one
So I reach down deep and I lace ’em up tighter