At some point in my twenties, I set three goals for myself that I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 30. Running a marathon was one of them.
In January of 2005 I started training. I was by no means "a runner." The first time I tried to run, I couldn't finish a mile without stopping for a water break, a stretching break, a "Gosh, I'm not sure what's wrong with my IPod" *wink, wink* break. It was both painful and pathetic. But after months of training, I finished the Chicago marathon in October in a respectable time and without stopping.
I learned several things about myself that year:
(1) I actually like to run.
(2) I'm fueled by people who don't think I can do something.
(3) I may be a skinny, red-headed middle school teacher, but I'm kind of tough - mentally and physically. I might even be - dare I say - a bit of a badass.
(4) I may not be the fastest, but once I start something I'm going to finish the race in a respectable time without stopping...because I'm a badass.
I'm never going to be the writer who cranks out four or five manuscripts in one year. God love those who can - I admire them for it. But whatever I write, I will work my butt off to make it good. I will rewrite it 348 times or ditch it to write something better if I have to. I will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes because (1) I kind of like to write and (2) this is my third and final goal and even though I passed 30 a few years back, I'm not giving up on it.
My marathon in 2005 was my first race. I've run twenty or so races since then. After having Baby Boy #2 in August, I ran a 15K the first weekend in November. I sure as hell was not the fastest in that race. But while training for it, the oh-so-wise lyrics of Eminem, Kanye, and Pink reminded me that it's not about being the fastest. It's about endurance. It's about training and making myself better. It's about pushing myself to my limits and then some. It's about reaching goals I set for myself and finishing the stupid race no matter how sleep deprived, hurt, or defeated I may feel.
Sometimes we want things done quickly. Sometimes we want to smack people who think every publishing story is like Stephenie Meyer's story, who wrote and sold her manuscript for three figures in six months time. And sometimes we roll up our sleeves, dig a little deeper and realize the finish line is farther away than we'd hoped, but not impossible to reach.