The other day I took a wrong turn. And I mean that literally.
I was running my goal race for the season. Hitting every mile exactly as planned, on track for running a 1:35 in the half marathon just as I had hoped I would do. It was a beautiful day in Annapolis. The perfect morning for a race. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, but the air was crisp and clean and there was a nice soft breeze.
I floated as I ran. I was happy, enjoying the moment and soaking it in. I was grateful to be there. Grateful to feel so good and alive and to be doing what I loved.
The ZOOMA Annapolis race course is beautiful. Yes, it is riddled with rolling hills, but none too scary or overwhelming in my opinion. The bay views are breathtaking. Running through town on brick covered streets is lovely and charming. I was caught up in the moment, focused on my pacing and enjoying the new scenery.
Just after Mile 4 I approached “the bridge” – everyone says this is the toughest part of the race. It is a long concrete bridge with a pretty steep hill at the start. Once you come to the top of that hill you are on the bridge and then get to ride it out downwards gradually. I came over that hill feeling strong and steady. And then coasted down the hill.
But as I got towards the end of the bridge there was a sign with two arrows. One arrow indicated a U-turn and the other pointed off to the left. One said “10k”, the other “half marathon.” But for some reason, it wasn’t clear to me where I should go. I wished it spelled it out for me. I couldn’t remember what to do. I was on my own, no runners near me to ask. No volunteer at the sign to help me. I looked into my mind’s eye to try to remember where the course map told me to go but my brain just froze. I ran passed the sign thinking I should go straight. But then I stopped and I turned around, unsure of myself. Panicking. I made the U-turn and saw spectators – someone to ask. I didn’t know what to do and I was losing time and feeling so worried. I ran to the spectator and asked him –
“I’m running the half marathon, am I doing the right thing?”
“Yes!” he said “GO GO!”
I was one of the top 10 at this point and the field was pretty scattered. He reassured me and so I ran. I felt good again and got back into pace.
As I passed the runners who were on their way up the bridge running towards the sign, they cheered for me. I smiled and told them “pay attention to the signs! It’s confusing!” hoping I could save someone from the anxiety I had just experienced. I passed a friend and seeing her made me smile. She looked strong and happy. She was really unsure of how this race was going to pan out for her earlier that morning, but when I saw her I just knew she was rocking it. That was such a good feeling. It lightened my heart and gave me some ooomph, helped me forget about the time I had lost and how I “almost” went the wrong way. I was feeling incredibly strong – the endorphins had kicked in, my race pace felt easy and I was cruising along.
And then I saw the sign for Mile 11. And then the sign for Mile 6.
WHAT? Are you kidding me? Is this really happening?
I didn’t want to think about it. I kept running, refusing to believe that I had screwed up so majorly.
And then I approached the stadium, where the start and finish lines were.
I neared the chute and people were cheering for me. I stopped along the side where this incredibly nice lady was cheering her lungs off for me. I told her thank you, and then explained I didn’t want to cross the finish yet! I wanted to run the half marathon, not the 10k. I had a lump in my throat. I was fighting tears. She looked at me confused and said “Oh, sweetie. I’m sorry.”
I turned and looked at the finish again. I did not want to cross it. Runners started coming through behind me. I didn’t care that they were placing ahead of me. I wanted to go back in time. I walked over to the announcer and said “Sir, is there any way I can please still run the half marathon and not the 10k?” He looked at me like I was a complete idiot. I felt like a complete idiot. He just shook his head.
I walked across the finish line, feeling like a big dummy. Feeling so so sad. Feeling incredibly defeated. So disappointed in myself. In the situation. Unable to understand how this happened.
I found my friends, one of them who works for ZOOMA. I told her what happened. She gave me a hug and then looked at me and said “Wait, there is no volunteer there?!” She got right on it and made sure a volunteer was at the turn right away so this would not happen to anyone else. I went to my car, because I was sure I was going to lose it and cry like a big baby. I had so much emotion to release. I called Robert and he was shocked – worried – right away he knew something was wrong because there is no way I am running a half marathon in less than an hour. I wept, and explained what happened.
I’m sorry this happened. We all make wrong turns in life. But you will find your way. You will learn from it and grow from it. There will be other races.
I gave myself permission to be sad. To be angry. I tried to find humor in it, because who does that? It is pretty funny when you think about it. But every time I let it go, the sad/mad feelings would come back like a fierce wave and knock me down.
All day long I felt like a big dumdum. I was disappointed in myself. In the situation. I wanted to make it different – to change the reality, but I knew I couldn’t. I was helpless and the lump in my throat stuck with me for most of the day.
Then that afternoon my sister Jodi texted me. She was heading back to the Emergency Room because her thigh was turning purple and was very painful. Her breathing felt heavy. They did an ultrasound at the hospital and could not find the blood clots that had been in her legs since her ACL surgery last month. We waited as she went in for a CT scan, to see if the clots had traveled to her lungs. To see if she was dealing with a pulmonary embolism (a life threatening condition when a blood clot travels to the lungs). They were not able to find the clots and this was good – because it meant they were not in her lungs – but it was also confusing because there was no explanation for her symptoms at all. They sent her home and told her to see her doctor again on Monday.
The next morning I woke up early and headed back to Maryland for a two day retreat. I would be spending time at “lululemon ambassador camp” – I had no idea really what to expect but I knew it would be good for me. I was nervous to go, to leave my sister and my family. I honestly felt so drained from the day before and so much of me wanted to back out and just stay home. But my heart told me to go – I needed this.
I pulled up to Camp Letts and it was just so beautiful. A tree-lined gravel road welcomed me. I could immediately tell I was about to experience something very special.
This sign made me think and I stopped the car and sat there.
I need to slow down. Like, really. I have been going going going – so distracted so busy – I am missing some good stuff that is all around me. Maybe my mistake at the race had meaning in it. I decided it did. I need to pay attention to my life. To my actions. I need to not take things for granted. I need to slow down. I am hurrying through my life.
I took a deep breath. I decided to let go. To trust that my sister would be okay while I was gone. To trust that what happened yesterday was really just a blip. That I would grow and learn from it. And I smiled. I had given myself permission to be okay with how I felt. I had decided to embrace it and move through it.
The retreat was more than I ever could have imagined. I went into it without any real expectations. I met amazing – no, INCREDIBLE – people. Some who I feel just so connected to, as though I have known them my whole life. We were fast old friends.
We spent the weekend talking about being OPEN to possibility. Being the creators of the life we love. So much was shared, so much was released. So much filled my heart with hope and tingly excitement and gratitude.
I TOOK MYSELF ON over the last two days. I faced my fears, wrestled with self doubt, and overpowered my negative thought demons. I restored my spirit and my faith in myself and in the bigger picture. I connected with what truly matters most to me and re-centered myself. It could not have come at a better time. It was just what I needed right now.
On Friday and Saturday I felt like I was on some sort of crazy roller coaster ride, in an alternate universe where everything was working against me. It took me three hours to get to Annapolis Friday night (it should have taken closer to one hour). I drove through an insane set of storms with tornado watches and all sorts of freaky thunder and lightening. Then my race happened (or…didn’t happen, however you want to look at it). Then my sister had her health scare. It was all sorts of nuts! But Sunday and Monday were like a reset button for me. The world stopped spinning all crazy and I was able to see what was in my heart so much more clearly. I feel at peace now. And I feel excited and hopeful and thankful. Good things are brewing in this life of mine.