Several months ago we had the opportunity for two days of back country training in Joshua Tree with some friends. A wonderful chance to test gear, swap stories, and generally remind me how stinkin’ lucky I am to live this crazy, beautiful life.
On the first day, I consciously started out slow, trekking with Greg a bit behind the other runners. I was ginger about a mild over-training injury, nursing a sinus infection, and generally just wanted to ease into the weekend.
Mid-day I found myself alone, hiking up a long steep sandy jeep road that went on for miles. Occasional SUV’s would blare past throwing up dust in my face and mocking me with their closed off air conditioned serenity. I heard my sister’s voice saying, “Have fun this weekend, if that’s what you call fun” from a voicemail I had listened to right before we started. A pitiful hour plus went by as I marched on – Greg was far behind me, but I couldn’t seem to catch up with the runners either. My attitude was sinking like the Titanic. I finally gave in and sat down to wait for Greg. When he finally found me on the side of the road, I was hot, grumpy, and doubting all my abilities. I always sound like a peach in these stories, huh?
A tuna sandwich, ibuprofen, Dayquil, some whining, and (most importantly) Greg’s wide brimmed hat jammed on my head formed the immediate roadside triage. Then he helped me tend to my feet, helped me stand up, and helped me get my pack on. Same old story – Greg helping me. But this was not the story I wanted anymore. We started out again painfully slow at first, but soon my energy came back and we picked up the pace. The brimmed hat was a lifesaver. Really, Jenn? You needed Greg to remind you to protect your head, save yourself from mid-day heatstroke, and wear a flippin’ brim on a trek in the desert?? But I guess the answer was yes.
Soon we ran across Howard who let us know the group had gone in several different directions and no one else had exactly loved that last jeep road/canyon section either. Misery loves company and I instantly felt another notch better. Not long after that, I turned back into typical Jenn and left Greg in the dust with a wave, a smile, and his blessing. As is also typical, I got stronger as the day went on and loved running with the ‘big boys’ across the last miles of the evening. But the nagging thought kept coming back to me – once again Greg had to ‘help me up’. I didn’t want to need his help any more and more importantly, Greg wasn’t going to be in Jordan, so what would happen when I found myself sitting on the side of the road having a pity party? I needed to learn to pick myself up.
The rest of the training weekend was great. I felt confident, strong, and happy. But as we drove out of the park, the doubting thoughts came back. As I spilled out my fears, Greg said the same thing he has said to me, in different ways, so many countless times before…..
You are so much stronger than you know. You just have to believe in yourself. Everyone else can see this in you. Now see it in yourself. Believe, Jenn. Believe in yourself.
I’ve spent the last several months repeating that phrase to myself – You are so much stronger than you know. And trying to believe it. I’ve spent countless solo runs examining why I struggle with this. I’ve spent countless group runs questioning other woman who I can tell ‘do believe’. I poke and pry and try to figure out their secrets. I observed my first 100miler as a crew/pacer and watched several runners look inside to discover their strength. I have ‘good’ weeks where I slowly start to trust in what I can do, and then ‘bad’ weeks where the pressure of it all builds up and I have a melt down in fear. Silly old useless fear.
But not surprisingly for this girl who often lives in an imaginary world, it’s a line from a classic movie that has struck a chord in my heart and I think finally made the impact so needed.
Dorothy: Oh, Will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda, the Good Witch: You don’t need to be helped any longer, my dear. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda, the Good Witch: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Dorothy has been on an epic journey, looking for answers in other people’s magic…but in the end she learns that everything she ever needed was already inside of her. It’s always been there….just waiting for that moment when we are ready to believe.
That nugget of wisdom as dispensed by the beautiful Glinda has been rocking my world the last few days. Whatever you are chewing on, whatever you are working through….everything you need is already inside you. Difficult to access? Perhaps. But there? I think so…
As I whittle down my Jordan pack to the final, bare essentials for success I’ve decided I somehow need to bring with me a little bit of red sparkle dust as a reminder to click my clunky Salomons and just Believe.