Born to Run
The work of Project Goldfish has coincided with my training for the Chicago Half-Marathon. I am not a businesswoman, nor am I a runner so … what better time to take on two huge challenges than at the exact same time. My father has, in the past, referred to me as the Energizer Bunny. I should really look into having one of my batteries removed.
This summer has been about building strength and endurance, challenging myself physically and mentally, and falling short or failing before I – ultimately – succeed. Running has been my greatest stress release when I can’t take one more minute of financial projections and WordPress widgets.
Things are moving right along with Project Goldfish and, in addition to my family, friends, peanut butter and the Real Housewives of New Jersey, a major source of inspiration and motivation has been the book Born to Run. Written by journalist Christopher McDougall, it is the true story of an incredible tribe of super athletes living in the canyons of Mexico. These men, women and children run incredible distances with apparent ease. Running defines their way of life. Running frees them.
I read this book with a pencil in my hand to underline, star and mark quotes and entire passages. What I love about these quotes is that they are not simply about running – they’re a way of looking at life. (Disclaimer: I’m starting to sound sort of hippy-dippy. This is very unlike me. However, this book hit me in a way that most materials do not.)
… I should have been there when this ninety-five-year-old man came hiking twenty-five miles over the mountain. Know why he could do it? Because no one ever told him he couldn’t. No one ever told him he oughta be off dying somewhere in an old age home. You live up to your own expectations, man.
When I made the decision to enroll at Medill, I told people I was sick and tired of reporters wringing their hands and worrying “What will become of journalism?” I decided I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines. Someone needs to find a new economic model for journalism, so why shouldn’t it be me? I am smart and enthusiastic and capable – I am just as likely as anyone else to make a major contribution to journalism. I’m not saying Project Goldfish is the answer but I think it’s something.
Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone.
At first, this sentence seems pretty dark, doesn’t it? I imagine a disillusioned 15-year-old, sitting in her bedroom, picking at her black nail polish and crying that the world Just. Doesn’t. Get it. So dark, so dramatic. OK, but the more I thought about this line, the more I liked it because pain can be frustration, anger, stress, anxiety or fear. Sometimes these are necessary because …
Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, may we find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstructions.
There is a light at the end of that pain. I completely agree that to grow, we have to push through all the “fatigue and distress.” Did I ever, in my wildest dreams, think I would run 10 miles? No, but I can, and I can do it because I pushed through miles 7, 8 and 9.
You had to love running, or you wouldn’t live to love anything else. And like everything else we love – everything we sentimentally call our ‘passions’ and ‘desires’ – it’s really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. We’re all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known.
There is nothing else I want to be doing right now. I love this project. I believe in it. I’ve barely left my apartment in three days because of it (I left yesterday to stock up on more peanut butter and Pirate Booty. I have the diet of a 5-year-old). We’re meant to push ourselves. Finishing this project, so I can get my master’s degree, so I can get back to my career, so I can make journalism better for the audience – as oppose to advertisers and moguls – is as necessary to me as food, rent and Facebook.
The mental challenge of running is a wonderful way to think about the challenges of school, work and life. When all else fails, I take a deep breath, relax and repeat the words of my Coach Richard:
If you’re not fainting or puking, KEEP GOING.
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