If you know me personally or have read any of my tweets, posts here, or Dailymile entries within the past few months, and especially, the past few weeks, you’ll know that major life changes are underfoot and that I’ve felt pretty emotionally volatile and vulnerable—totally attractive combination, btw—as a result.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? The short of it is that my husband got an incredible career opportunity, and we decided to take it, even though it necessitates a cross-country move to the Bay Area. We recently sold our condo here and in about a month’s time, my daughter and I will join my husband out west.
I’ve ridden some hard highs and some low lows about this. For a while, probably the first 4-6 weeks, it was just there. I knew it was going to happen, but without knowing when we’d move (because my daughter and I wouldn’t join him out west until we sold), I didn’t pay the pending reality any mind. With marathon training for Chicago and NYC, and teaching this quarter, I think I had very little mental real estate to devote to thinking about The Big M(ove). It would happen when it would happen.
Welcome to the land of Erin denial, folks.
Once we sold, about 10 days ago, the reality obviously started to hit me significantly harder—but in ways I wouldn’t expect. Signing the real estate sale paperwork was purely transactional and numbing. Sending the ‘update on moving west’ email to my close friends and family though, where I apprised everyone of our sale, took me exponentially longer to write than it should have, in no small part because I had to stop writing nearly every paragraph to bawl (not kidding) and then tend to my daughter, since mommy’s crying had awoken her from her sleep that night (the mother of the year nominations are surely flooding the committee’s office for that one).
I’m finding that when I begin to think of my relationship with this city, the city I’ve called home since I was 18 years old (and thus, for basically all of my adult life), I quickly realize that I’ve made this city such a huge part of who I am—for better or for worse—and the thought of splitting from her leaves me feeling hella scared, nervous, and entirely, totally, 100% vulnerable, in a way I haven’t been in over a decade.
The unknown is scary, folks. Rationally, it’s not, but emotionally? Viscerally? Damn near terrifying.
However, the more I begin to think “rationally” about the move—since rationally, I’m 100% on board with it; it’s the emotional aspect that’s making me falter—I am quickly realizing that I need to take a page from my marathon training and racing experience.
The metaphor might be tenuous at best, but the applicability is very much there.
When I trained for my first marathon back in 2007, I had no fuckin’ idea what I was getting myself into. I was incredibly excited about the prospect and super eager to see if I could run a marathon at all (because normal people can’t run marathons, right??). Though I had an amazing support system and an incredible group of teammates, many of whom had run many a mary, I was blissfully and mildly oblivious about the effort before me. I mean, I knew it’d be work, but…
I full-body JUMPED into the marathon training process, under good guidance and coaching, and with as much information as I could gather when left to my own devices, and it was an amazing experience and, obviously, something that has profoundly changed my life.
It would be in my best interests to do the same with The Big M.
I need to full-body submerge myself in the move, the next chapter of my life, without looking back, without wondering what if I can’t do this or what if I’m alone or what if it sucks or what if I never find X or whatever.
I won’t have answers to any of those trepidations unless and—more importantly—until I try.
And this is so very, very much the same in the business of marathon training and racing.
I always link to Matt’s article about burning your effin boats when it comes time to goal-set, and while starting completely anew in the Bay isn’t exactly a goal of mine, per se, it is nevertheless presenting me with an amazing opportunity, once I begin to think about it in those terms. Starting fresh in a new city, with a new group of people, in a place where I have no history behind me and no ‘destiny’ before me, is something that many people would love to have, and it’s in my best interests to capitalize on this. I mean… duh, Erin.
I am lucky to personally know exactly 3 people—all runners—who live in SF proper, but otherwise, the Bay is all new territory for me.
The tremendous opportunity that comes with a clean slate is something that I’m just now fully beginning to realize, since I haven’t been in this position for the past, oh, 12 years.
This is a time to try new things—run new races, run other distances, run with other groups of people, to really truly go outside my comfort zone, making myself vulnerable in the process, and just see what the hell happens. Matt (I am such a fangirl) recently had a fantastic post about setting really enormous and huge and scary goals, beyond just setting your boats ablaze, and I totally have one.
Perhaps I laid the foundation here in Chicago, since this is where I was when I articulated it, but the work, the intentionality, will begin in the Bay.
Where it’ll end, where the goal will manifest, remains to be seen… but it’ll begin in the Bay.
I’m a huge proponent of running and racing (and living…?) without regrets, and what better way to put this ideology into action than in the newest installment of my life’s story.
And in the really strange timing department, in the late summer, months before any of this move stuff transpired, on a whim, I decided to apply to be a social media ambassador for the San Francisco Marathon, which I had run in 2010, freshly and unknowingly pregnant. I have always raved about how cool the race was and how it’d be one I’d actually run again, in no small part because I wanted to run it non-pregnant (and because my training that summer was sub-sub-par). My memory has failed me, so I can’t recount exactly what I wrote in my application—something about running postpartum, I think?–but I’m in. I’m now part of the group of “social media ambassadors” for a race in my new hometown (or home area, anyway). In the process, I’m “meeting” lots of Bay Area runners and, consequently, beginning to learn about some of the area’s best running groups, clubs, trails, races, and the like.
I took a chance, albeit a low-risk chance, and somehow, not only did the chance work out in my favor, but it also has already connected me to a community of runners who’ll surely help me find my bearings and who, I hope, will be my fast friends. I am genuinely excited to meet this group of people over the next few months, to support each other’s training efforts and goals, much as I do currently and will continue to do for my Chicago-based running family, Bootleggers or otherwise, and though I will be making the Chicago-Bay Area move with very mixed emotions, I am finding peace in knowing that I already have a handful of semi-perfect run strangers with whom I can rundezvous.
Though I can’t yet say I’m excited or even really looking forward to the move, I am intrigued to see what will happen in the next chapter of my (running) life.
The move isn’t a goal that I set for myself, nor is it necessarily a risk that I would emotionally throw myself into taking; however, that it was given to me, and that I fully support it, shows me that I am more ready for it than I realize.
As in running, sometimes the biggest risk is in stagnation.
Remove the comfort, dispose of the familiar, kick out the crutches beneath you, and see what the hell happens.
Happy Thanksgiving, run family.