“Congratulations! Today is your day! You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!” – Dr. Seuss
As of late the only book my 16 month old wants to read is Oh, the Places You’ll Go. No matter where my husband or I place the book, she always seems to find it. Before bed we head back to her room, allow her to pick a book, sit in the rocking chair and read until she falls asleep. Her choice of course is the same every night. I now know the book by heart. I found myself re sighting lines as I run. I was given the book 11 years ago as a graduation gift. The first time I read it I thought of the great college experiences I would encounter and the wonderful career I would except. Now as I read the words to my daughter they seem to take on new meaning.
The words are expressed simply with a strong realistic message. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you…… All Alone! Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot. Life is tough and sometimes it works in our favor and other times it does not. It seems the toughest decision we encounter we have to face alone (Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind). The same hold strue while running. During every race and every training run at points I feel mighty and at points I feel flighty (oh, I’ve been reading too many Dr. Seuss books). No matter what I am feeling or at what mile I am feeling it I know I at some point I will finish (whether I cross the finish line running, walking, or crawling). It may get tough along the way but I will bear down all alone and get through it anyway. As I grow tired and fatigued I think to myself, And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed).
Competing is filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. At some point pain and doubt sets in (although I am trained and capable, it typically comes around mile 18+). Something inside continues to tell me, “NO!” At times I argue with myself in my head, back and forth, “You can do this! No you can’t! Yes I can! Not this time, not this race!” And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done. I begin to focus on other things than the task at hand, running. I listen to the cheer of the crowed, the people around me racing, the chirping of the birds, the wind, and my feet hitting the ground. I begin to pick apart my form; are my feet beneath my hips, am I slightly leaning forward, am I striking the ground with enough force, are my arms crossing the center of my body, are my shoulders relaxed and so on. Then I begin to image my daughter. For some reason I always picture her playing on the beach in a little bikini with her red curly hair blowing in the wind. The image brings a smile to my face and calms me every time. It’s almost as good as seeing her in real life. After plenty of “mind wondering,” I begin to gain confidence through strength once more and I am ready to run like never before. I know my second wind is coming! Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky!
The same high I felt at the beginning of the race returns for my last kick. I become unstoppable! The most incredible and liberating feeling in the world is entering the chute of a race. The fans and music amplify with each step towards the finish. The moment I have waited for during all my training runs is approaching, lasting only a split second. I cross the finish line, the moment my foot hits the chip timer all my hard work has come to an end (and damn, it has paid off)! I am ready for my next moment! So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!