Zig Zag # 19
You're ALMOST THERE! ... Not really...
I’ve taken you on road trips, Lyft rides, flown you to foreign countries, and adventured in popular cities so far in the retelling of my zig zag life.
There is one aspect of my zig zag journey I haven’t talked about: The physical challenges I’ve thrown myself into.
In the midst of moving, grad school, and writing, I’ve knowingly and willingly volunteered to push my physical body to its limits.
Why did I throw physical challenges into the mix of things? Am I a masochist? Nah, being a masochist implies that I enjoy engaging in painful or uncomfortable things. Nope, I just wanted to do these things just to see if I could. Oftentimes, I did not enjoy them much at all, especially the training part. But I did learn a thing or two. Of course, I did ;) Plus, it was always important for me to finish what I started.
First, you should know what I did: A sprint triathlon, a Cherry Blossom 10K (with lots of 5Ks in there for the free t-shirt. With registration fees the shirts aren't technically free if you think about it), a trail run Ragnar Relay and a standard Ragnar Relay. All spread over the course of many years.
As an aside: A Ragnar Relay is a team of people who sign up to run different lengths of a relay race. The standard version usually consists of two 15 passenger vans, running at any time of the night or day and closing the 200-mile distance between cities at a surprisingly quick rate. The Ragnar Relay trail run was a lot more fun. Still a team event, but it had a camping aspect to it. Everyone ran the same trail run at different times as a relay team, but you got to sleep in your tent and eat the food you brought in between your runs. A much healthier way to do it.
Most importantly, what did I learn about myself from all this physical activity? Ahh, yes, that’s the best part…
1. Do you know what I think about when I run? How much I hate running. So there’s that.
2. The worst way to cheer on a runner is to scream “You’re almost there!” when there is literally a ½ mile left. That then becomes the longest most excruciating ½ mile you’ve ever run in your life.
3. When I really put my mind to something, I’m a very disciplined person. I get things done, and I see things through.
4. I’ve acquired the random skill to operate a 15 passenger van with speed, agility, and safety. Think the limo driver in the classic 90s flick, The Wedding Singer.
5. Sleeping cramped in said 15 passenger van then running 6.2 miles is not a recipe for success.
6. When motivated by the dark shadows of Highway 1 from Miami to Key West in the wee hours of the morning, I can shave off at least 5 minutes from my run time. I’ve seen CSI Miami. I knew how that was going to go if I didn’t get a move on.
7. I should always be suspicious of anything that makes you sign a “Gator Waiver” for liability purposes.
8. I like camping, especially making and eating s’mores.
9. Training for a huge event like a triathlon is not the best way to lose weight or understand proper everyday nutrition. Training skews everything. Also, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate well before you start.
10. Age doesn’t matter. I was passed by a 65-year-old man on a bike when I was 26.
11. The sense of accomplishment and pride once I finished all of these challenges made the training, the soreness, the heatstroke, the learning of how to care for my bike, the taking of swim lessons, the amount of money I spent on gear, and the registration fees all worth it.
Because of these experiences, I have medals and a great sense of achievement tucked away for a rainy day when I forget what I’m capable of. It’s been a minute since I’ve engaged in activities like these. I’m taking a more gentle and caring approach to my body these days. I stick to long walks around my neighborhood and my 2x a week pilates habit. I’m not saying that I would never do something like these activities again, but I’m definitely going to be more selective. Now, I’ve learned that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone or to myself. I want to do things (both physical and otherwise) that are fun. To create experiences and memories. To be present for all of it.
I will always be physically active in some way. It’s ingrained into who I am. I started playing tennis when I was five years old. When something like that is entrenched into your life at such a young age, it doesn’t leave you. It’s like learning a foreign language that young. You become fluent.
I appreciate that physical activity will always be a part of my life. I’m glad I pushed myself to my edge in a physical way through these things. Our bodies are capable of amazing things. So are our minds.
I’m going to have to agree with one of my all-time favorite authors on this one...
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson
Have a zig zag kind of a week. Until we meet again.