Running Up That Hill Part VII: Staying Positive and Feeling Grateful

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Welcome to Part VII of Lauren’s marathon series. The countdown until race time has begun. Start with Part I for a full account of what it’s actually like to train for a marathon. Or, continue on to Part VIII.

I have about 30 days left until I step into line with 26,000 other people and wait for my turn to run, and I have a difficult decision to make. My starting corral is much higher than my fellow marathon trainees. Only one other person submitted official times. Everyone else is in the last corral with the self-described walkers.

We have all been through so much together that it feels silly not to run with the group. At the same time, race rules dictate that no more than two people run abreast to allow for others to pass. Our pace times won’t be the same, even halfway through the course. Also, even though Jenny promises that we’ll run together, she always takes off at the start of every single race. Either at the beginning, middle, or end, she sprints away.

I really want to start the race with this group, but pushing past people for the first few miles doesn’t sound exciting to me. Nevertheless, we have to line up quite a bit in advance and I know how my nerves will be. My teeth will chatter and my knees will wobble, so the sooner I can get this race over with, the better. If I start in a higher corral, I will probably begin the race about 45 minutes before the rest of the crew. I’m still on the fence about what to do.

Run, Shop, Wrap Gifts, Run, Eat, Run, Etc. The last 20-mile run is this weekend. We had all agreed to run on Sunday, but everyone else’s plans changed last minute except mine. Even though I was annoyed, I tried not to let it bother me.

Training-wise, it’s been difficult to stay on task, what with all the holiday parties filled with food and wine and more food and more wine. Also, running hasn’t been that fun for some time now and staying motivated has been extremely challenging.

But yet, I somehow manage to stay driven. Today I wanted to finish up holiday shopping so I could relax with a glass of wine and wrap my gifts. Instead, I went for a run. This delay is going to make for a much less relaxing trip to the mall, where I’ll have to wrestle my way around a variety of aggravations. People staring at their cell phones when they walk, people not understanding that other walkers in the mall might, perhaps, be traveling faster than them. People being people.

Irritations Aside, I’m Still Thankful I’m personally annoyed with my own annoyance at others. So instead of dwelling on it, I’ve put together a gratitude list to keep me focused on the moment — the stuff we should be thinking about during the holiday season — not all the consumerism nonsense that distracts us from enjoying life and all the fun that can be had. Here it goes:

  1. My dog and his health. Recently, he had some issues that weren’t as bad as I feared. He’s healing fine, although I could do without the pathetic look he gives me when I grab his bottle of pills and try to give him one. I’m grateful for his health and that I don’t need to panic too much about what might happen to him. He’s been through a lot with me and happens to be more important than most humans in my life.
  2. The ability to learn, change, and grow in relationships. Life is constantly evolving and I’m glad I can keep moving in positive directions to face those changes. Everyone has issues in their family or personal lives that crop up. I’m doing my best to learn from all the mistakes I’ve made and am trying not to make them again. One of the hardest things this past year has been not enabling my mother and having the strength to stand up to her and say no. This has resulted in her cutting off all communication. I feel sorry for her because she’s missing so many beautiful things that are happening.
  3. An awesome little sister who has a totally adorable kid. She and her partner let me show up and crash at their place whenever I want, babysit, and do fun things with their daughter. Turns out that most parents don’t mind if a cool aunt hangs out with their kid so they can sleep in, but still I’m grateful that I get to be a small part of my niece’s life. It’s amazing to watch her grow from a weird little alien-looking thing to this adorably cute little kid with this pensively shy and giggly personality. Watching her learn and take in the world is just incredible.
  4. My health. It’s not something I ever think about until I don’t feel great, be it a running injury, a cold, or lack of sleep. When things are going well, I don’t think about all the things that haven’t gone well in the past. Today, I feel good and I’m grateful for that.
  5. My friends. Everyone I know is an awesome person in one way or another. I’m grateful for the people I keep close and the invites I get for all sorts of holidays when they know I’ll be home alone.
  6. Dating. I do my best not to take the baggage from my past into the present, but I’m now in my mid-30s and it feels like everyone has settled down around me, or has been given the opportunity to. It’s not entirely true, of course, but social media can feel oppressive when so many people appear to be happy, even though we all know the rose-colored glasses/not real life idiom applies. Not everyone is happy. I have to make myself happy and I do as much as possible so that happens. If someone comes into my life and wants to sign up for this fun ride with me, great. If not, I’ll just be that cool aunt with an awesome dog who runs a lot and goes on random trips.

It’s amazing how focusing on the positive can completely change my personal view. I’m now looking forward to going to the mall and grabbing the last gift on my list, and then heading home to wrap up everything, with a cuddly dog by my side.

I finished my run today, I did a great job at work, and I’ll fall asleep knowing I can start tomorrow fresh and have another good day.

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