Do What You Can

Last weekend I went to Denver for a three-day weekend. The weekend was to be fast and furious, catching the sites and catching up with my sister and her friends. It seems when you only have a short time in a city, you look at the trip differently, wanting to make every moment count. Therefore, as soon as I arrived, I quickly made my way to the shuttle counter to arrange a ride to my hotel. Well, in true hurry up and wait fashion, I was the first one on the shuttle, only to realize I’d have to wait for it to fill with other passengers. Twenty minutes later, the last passengers boarded and we were off to our respective destinations.  The two men who got on last had clearly rushed to catch the shuttle; they got on breathless as if they had sprinted all the way from baggage claim. One sat next to me, the other behind.  The man next to me, despite his 50-plus yard dash, appeared calm.  He immediately settled into the ride, staring ahead in his own zen thoughts.  His friend, however, was full of nervous energy and questions. He tapped on the man’s shoulder impatiently.

“Do you think the plans made it?”

My seatmate calmly replied, “I’m sure they did. We sent them in plenty of time.”

“Will they have time to review them though?”

“Yes. Don’t worry.”

We then rode in silence while I sat in my own world, lamenting the fact that I probably wouldn’t have time to get a run in that day. I was hoping my hotel would either have good treadmills or be close to running trails for the next day. Soon my run concerns were interrupted  by another question from Nervous Ned.

“Do you think they’ll like it?”

Not sure what “it” was, I was curious to hear what the reply from Mr. Calm would be.

“Yes, I really think they’ll like it.”

Ned was still not satisfied.

“But… we are really late for the meeting. What do we do about this?”

Mr. Calm sighed, then waited before responding.  Finally he answered in an
I’m a relaxed guy but you better not ask me any more questions sort of way.

“Well, we’ll just do what we can do.”

As in-  buddy, chill out for ten seconds, we can’t change time, move mountains, or make our clients love us no matter what, so let’s just see what happens, okay?

That made me think about my run or lack there of. For crying out loud, I had gotten up at 4:45 so I could get to the airport on time, and travel to a city which I had just three days to explore. I needed to realize that maybe a run wasn’t in the cards today… and that, as Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected taught me… was perfectly okay.

Then I thought of the list of “to-do’s” I had written down while on the plane. Since Christmas was just a week away, I had many things to complete (actually start) before the holiday. What was I doing going to Denver for a vacation? I thought of my Superhero friends who not only had already finished their shopping, but also baked cookies, mailed cards, and decorated their homes to rival Martha Stewart herself… AND managed to work, feed children, and stay sane in the process. I started to feel like the man in the back of the van, anxious about all of the things I hadn’t done. Then I thought of all of the people I’d recently witnessed out and about in the holiday splendor… though it was “the most wonderful time of the year,” the faces I saw made me think it was more like “the most frantic time.”

The thing is, in this crazy world, we seem to make things a whole lot crazier by trying to do everything, all the time, and then do it perfectly on top of everything. Work, home, kids, fitness, finances, health, cooking, cleaning, shopping, waxing, waning, manicures, pedicures, travel, investments… the list of everything we are trying to “cover” is nothing less than endless.  Even considering this list makes me think of what I’m not doing. And this makes me feel a little crazed, to say the least.

So, as my shuttle pulled in to my hotel, I scooted past the wise, calm man to my right, and decided to not worry about “doing everything in three days,” but rather just doing what I could do… and enjoying it. I went on to have one of the most enjoyable runs of my life the next day… because I could.

Remember friends, there are only 24 hours in a day, so do what you can, and let that be enough. Life’s too short to worry about the runs you can’t squeeze in.  There’s always time for those tomorrow.

by abbey algiers

copyright 2010

Only Time Will Tell

A friend of mind recently shared what a college professor said at her graduation: “Finishing college is like running a marathon – it’s not when you finish, but that you finish.”

Like always, upon hearing the word “marathon” my ears perked up like a dog that hears the word “out?” I thought about what she said, and considered the marathons I’ve run and the talks I’ve had with other runners about marathons.  I think we’d all agree that sometimes, a marathon is about reaching certain time goals.  We begin with hopes of breaking 4:30, 4:00, 3:40… or whatever goal we have for ourselves. And, pretty much the entire focus of that run is on our ideal time.  If we reach this goal, things are great, and the marathon is deemed a success.

But the fact is, not every marathon is destined to be a PR run. In fact, many times marathons turn out to be PW’s (Personal Worsts). Perhaps things fall apart early on in the race, or maybe it’s the last 6-8 miles that kill us. Regardless, we become well aware that we’ll be out there for longer than we hoped.

For me, when a race falls apart, I am initially disappointed.  I should know, it’s happened many times.  Some extenuating circumstance usually in the form of an injury or mother nature will infringe upon my well laid plans of breaking my own records. At first, I face this setback running next to my new friend Denial. I tell my friend and myself that I can and will heal whatever ails me, and that I’ll soon be back on pace. But then Denial leaves me in his dust, and passes the baton to his buddy Reality Check.  This charmer informs me it’s no longer about speed records; things are not going to get better. At this point, I begin to accept this new fate, and slowly shift gears. I consider that I may need to focus on “just making it to that freaking finish line” without completely falling apart.

Yet for a few miles, I remain disappointed, thinking I could’ve somehow prevented the demise of that particular run.  I proceed to feel like a failure for not only that run, but also all of the other things in my life that haven’t gone according to plan.  The book that remains unwritten, the closets that are unorganized, the friends I’ve lost touch with… the list goes on and on.

Then Reality Check decides to walk, and soon Get A Grip is breathing heavily down my neck.  He begs, “Would you just relax already?  So you’re not going to PR- you’re running a marathon, isn’t that enough? Stop with the pressure, and just focus on how hard you worked to get out here in the first place.  Not everyone runs marathons, you know.”

I spend the last miles of that run equally trying to ditch and believe Get A Grip.  His logic actually starts to make sense just in time for my final running partner, Light At the End of the Tunnel.  This friend accompanies me to the last one hundred yards of the marathon, where he high fives me and says, “I told you you’d make it.”  Then I am alone, proudly running through the spectators that line the last stretch.  I cross the finish line to receive my medal and remember that wow… finishing a marathon actually is the cool part.

How long it takes to finish a marathon, or reach any goal doesn’t have to matter as much as we tell ourselves it does. It’s the fact that we carry on, always with the end result in mind. Yes, we may hit detours that set us back days, weeks, or even years, and maybe we have to readjust and redefine our goals.  And yes, it might be a bummer to finish something in not exactly the way we had hoped.  But maybe we all need to listen to my good friend Get a Grip, and remember to not be so hard on ourselves and press on, because Light at the End of the Tunnel is always out there waiting for us, maybe around the next bend.

Keep at it friends, all the way to the finish.

Copyright 2010

By Abbey Algiers