Lining up in Boston with all those thin, sinewy gazelle-ish people, knowing that just about everyone there takes this marathon-running thing seriously and probably worked really hard just to get there, can make you feel like such an imposter.
I don’t belong here.
I can’t really run that well.
I’m still new at this.
I’m not as fast as I look.
It’s a little surreal and a lot intimidating. I hear people talking about their pre-race rituals, about that time they ran a marathon through a downpour with a sprained foot, about their plan to kick it into high gear at the halfway point. And although it is tempting to feel like I really don’t belong there because I really can’t compete with them, I try, instead, to remind myself that I’m actually not competing with them.
I’m running my own race. Against me and my inner coward, my inner sloth, my inner egotist. And the goal is not to win, not to beat anybody else, but instead to be brave, and true, and humble.
I can’t compete with anyone else not only because we run at different paces, but because we’re coming from different places. Some are coming off of injuries, others are having the best race of their lives. Some have really specific goals and others are there just to have fun and soak in the atmosphere. This is serious business for some and a 26-mile party for others.
It’s hard enough to remember that on the race course, when you actually are running a race. But it’s even harder in real life. So hard to remember that I’m not competing with any other mom, or writer, or woman. I can’t be “the best wife ever” — I can only be Micah’s best wife ever. I don’t need to feel inadequate or unworthy or like I don’t belong. I just need to be me.
And even when there are people all around me doing the things I want to be doing, people who look like they are living the dream and crossing the finish line while I’m still slogging through, I can’t be discouraged by their success (and my implicit failure) because they aren’t running the same race I’m running. Maybe I’m coming off an injury, maybe I’m just getting through this while my mind and heart are somewhere else, maybe this is just the first step in a long journey.
Whatever the case, I need to keep my eyes on my own page, my feet in my own lane, my heart in my own race . . . and feel lucky to line up next to so many people who are courageously doing the same.