I ran the ShamRock & Roll on Sunday. Last year, it was my first race in over 10 years. And of course, I ran it with Colby. This year, I ran it solo, since Colby had just finished her Peak Snowshoe Challenge on Saturday. But this post is not about the race itself – I’ll cover the race recap in a separate post. Nope, this entry is about something larger than any one race. It’s about Showing Up.
I have not been feeling great lately and decided to give up caffeine last Friday. Nasty caffeine withdrawal headaches throughout the weekend did nothing to improve my feelings of un-wellness or mood. Sunday dawned chilly, with a light snowfall. I woke my husband to say goodbye before I left for the race and obviously looked less than enthused, because he took one look at me and said, “You know, you don’t have to run the race just because you signed up.” My reply? I think I may have gasped in horror as I sprinted out the door.
Cue to a moment of marital crisis. As I asked Colby on the phone when I called her en route to the race, “We have been married for almost 17 years — does this guy know me at all?” Colby expressed her own horror at the question and then laughed, showing me that SHE knows me (and of course, she feels the same way).
In my world, I DO need to run a race if I have signed up for it, unless I have a really, really, good reason. Some really, really good reasons include:
1. I need immediate medical attention – about to give birth, am anaphylactic, have a broken bone or appendicitis, etc.
2. I am truly injured, such that I would injure myself more and perhaps jeopardize future races by running (i.e., not a tight hamstring or pinchy calf. Something truly legit. Especially for a 5K).
3. I have a massive headache, such as a migraine (yes, Colby, or debilitating hangover headache). NOT a caffeine withdrawal headache. More like a “can’t see the light of day” type headache.
4. I am in severe gastric distress and would possibly puke before the race even starts (not cool – you didn’t earn it yet) (yes, Colby, hangovers are covered here, as well).
5. I am running a solid fever or am otherwise really sick. That said, I’ve run with strep throat sans fever before and was no worse for wear. Didn’t know I had strep at the time or I would not have run, but it just goes to show…
6. Someone close to me has medical or other needs that I absolutely need to attend to.
7. The weather conditions make it downright dangerous to be outside, let alone racing – excessive heat or cold, blizzard, etc. In such situations, the race will probably be cancelled anyway, so no need to be a no-show.
Note that being tired, withdrawing from caffeine, general malaise and less than ideal weather conditions ARE NOT ON THE LIST. I cannot even believe that my husband suggested it, although he probably knew my response before the words had fully left his mouth. May even have been screwing with me a little bit. Come to think of it – 16 1/2 years in? Yeah, he probably was screwing with me a little bit. Who could blame him.
Looking back on when I was young, I know that I was fortunate that certain things, like sports and most academics, came relatively easy for me, but I was even more fortunate in the fact that nothing came so easy for me that I didn’t have to work at it. Learning to work hard and show up were some of the best life lessons I learned, and became even more important as I grew older and encountered many, many things that did not come as easily.
Of course, one could argue that the race doesn’t really matter. Unlike a final exam, work meeting or team practice, it would go on just fine whether I showed up or not. This is 100% true, and the ShamRock & Roll would have been no worse for wear had I stayed in bed on Sunday, but the fact is that sticking to a commitment – be it large or small – matters TO ME. Always.
They say 90% of life is just showing up. If I sign up, I show up. It’s really that simple. And that is how I ended up running a race by myself, with a headache, in a chilly snowfall on Sunday. Truth be told, I really wouldn’t have had it any other way.