X, Why, Z

X, Why, Z

So, after you cross the finish line of the race you’ve spent four months training for, what’s next?

For me, I’m aiming for something during the late spring or summer. I’d like to do my first obstacle course race. I’d also like to learn how to sail and general boating safety.

For now, I think it would be good to answer the question as to why am I aiming toward these goals. Sometimes, when you look at why, another set of answers comes up.

Before the Krispy Kreme Challenge.

See the woman smiling in the photo there? What do you see?

When I first saw this photo, I saw my stomach where the emotional and physical issues of the past few years have been stored.

In that moment, I forget that that’s where three children grew until they were ready to come into the world. My stomach hasn’t recovered fully from those experiences, but it can support me as I move throughout the day. My stomach muscles used to cramp up a few seconds during planks. Now they can hold strong for about a minute without complaining.

And I missed that smile. The one that says “Oh, my gosh, I’m doing this!!!” like a little girl who gets to ride a unicorn. It also says “Oh my gosh, I’m doing this” like a 41-year-old who is scared but confident that she’s going to be at least OK.

When I looked at the photo, I missed the strong legs and arms hiding under all the colorful layers of clothes. The legs that allow me to play cops and robbers with the fastest 7-year-old I know. The arms that can hug a sick tween who is anxious about the world’s problems.

One of the rules I have been trying to live by is to “run happy.” I know it’s Brooks’ slogan, but running happy, doing epic stuff to be happy and feel accomplished, is something my overly cautious self aims for now. If I can’t find contentment or try something for the first time, how can I expect my kids to do so?

So, I now look at this photo and remember what happened afterward — the support from runner 1917, the costumes and energy of support from everyone — I felt happy.

It could have been the sugar of a dozen doughnuts, but this was a fun run. I want to do more things that excite me, scare me and challenge me.

I want to do an Obstacle Course Race, because I want my upper body strength to match my legs. I used to walk on my hands, and skips bars on the monkey bars. Now, I can’t go across the monkey bars. I miss feeling that kind of strong that my body could do almost anything I asked of it.

I also want to learn how to properly use a boat. It’s actually a sail boat with a motor, so I need to learn how to sail too. And here’s why.

I hate motion sickness. Moreover, I hate being sick while riding in a boat. But I love the water. I love the smell of the salt water coming off the shore as much as I love the smell of pine trees in a mountain forest.

Sunset from a boat the day I helped navigate.

This past fall, I helped pilot a boat from the Intercoastal Waterway up through the Albemarle Sound and into Edenton Bay. It was a long trip but we all survived.

I was scared to be on the boat, but sucked it up — motion sickness and all. When I wasn’t queasy, it was awesome. The wind was in my air, water all around, seeing things from a vantage point that only comes from being on the water …

I was learning something, a zombie-apocalypse skill that could come in handy whenever I needed to escape. It’s something that comes in handy when you live an hour’s drive from the ocean, just as mountaineering skills would come in handy in Appalachia.

I still am training for the zombie apocalypse. I’ve always wanted to be prepared for any situation. Learning how to use a boat properly will help me do that.

The races will come when I can afford them. As much as I like races, I think the adventure to get there excites me.

That’s what I want my kids to remember too. How we did all this cool stuff and then it exploded into this awesomeness that only certain people can really understand. Like a favorite shirt, you look at it and remember the x, why and z.

Why are you training for your next race? Besides the fact that you plopped down money for it, what is really driving you to do this? Maybe your why will lead to more adventures. Feel free to comment or shoot me an email if you know your why.

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