Knowing when to quit
No I'm not quitting this blog, I have many idiot things to report on now and in the future. But I did drop out of the NYC Half this week, after concluding that training for a 13-mile race in the middle of winter is something I absolutely do not want to participate in. And maybe not during any other season either.
This wasn't an easy decision for me to make, because I'm a Capricorn, a born climber, and quitting things is very un-goat-like. I mean, I quit things all the time, so I'm great at it, but it's always done with much hand-wringing and self-loathing and certainly isn't something I like to admit. I want the world to think I'm a finisher and I have no problem lying about that. So the fact that I'm putting it right out here in this public, award-winning space really takes courage. Not actual courage, like saving a drowning puppy from a vat of acid or something, but a faux-approximation of courage: I'm like Cyrano's white plume, which is only a physical manifestation of his courage, a smokescreen if you will, while it's Cyrano himself who's out performing all the courageous acts. (There is no Cyrano in this NYC Half scenario, but please appreciate my overdramatic application of useless literary knowledge to real-world events. You win again, liberal arts degree.)
Anyway, quitting this race was a real fucking relief. I've been in the dumps all month because of a terrible 10K I ran on the 10th, when the weather was bone-snapping cold and I had trouble breathing and ended up walking way more than I expected to. When I started running in 2013 I just wanted to be outside and get some fresh air and move my can. It's a sport and I respect that—I like that it's challenging and love the community and camaraderie of it, but I need it to be fun again and not something where I constantly have to feel devastated by my disappointing times vis-à-vis other, more serious people. Nobody goes to an aerobics class and thinks, I have to out-aerobicize all these other knuckleheads this week or I will feel like a total failure. Do they? Maybe competitive aerobics is a thing, I have no idea what the kids do for fun these days.
But I've decided from now on to take my running cues from comedian Liz Miele, who tells the latest Runner's World, "I'm not good at it, I just like it." How genius is that! The second I read it I knew this was it, this was what I've been waiting for: the simple but mind-blowing permission to not be good at running, to just stop caring about being good at running, and to continue devoting my fitness regimen to a kind of lazy, half-assed, shoddy dilettantism in pursuit of absolutely nothing, which not coincidentally I am 100% amazing at.