Etes-vous prets?

“……Are you waiting for time to show you some better thoughts? When you turn around, starting here, lift this new glimpse that you found; carry into evening all that you want from this day. This interval you spent reading or hearing this, keep it for life.  What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?”

-William Stafford


My running life began in college when I learned to row.  I remember sitting with my best friend, making a list of the pros & cons of joining the crew team.  I’m fairly certain “meeting cute boys” and “strong abs” were at the top of the ‘pro’ list – we were 19 after all.  Looking back, the overwhelmingly positive outcome of that decision was the unearthing of my athletic, strong, competitive, sweaty self.
No matter that the first track workout found me huffing & puffing after 1/2 a lap.  Or that my graceless lack of coordination resulted in all manner of bumps & bruises from hauling the shell in & out of the river and navigating the oars.
Soon our runs grew longer & hill repeats and killer erg workouts became standard.  I learned how to do a proper squat with huge weights & eventually embraced the endless sit-ups and stair climbing.
I LOVED crew.
After all these years, I am thankful that the ‘pro’ list was longer than the con.  Through rowing I learned that my physical boundaries could be pushed and my comfort zone totally squashed.
Through rowing I found running & I became an athlete.
Now in my 40s, I can’t imagine my life without running.  I owe most of my good days to the fact that I made it out for a run.  I often think of the formal rowing command “Etes-vous prets? Partez!”, and use it as my mini-mantra.  “Are you ready???? GO!”
I love that.
As a runner, I have big dreams & aspirations which drive me every day.  Yet, I know I will never snag a podium finish and you won’t find me at the front of the pack.  I will never be that sleek gazelle gliding along the trail leaving dust in her wake.  I simply aspire to be READY.
Too often, I fear women are somehow forced to choose between the cringe-worthy “look-at-me! look-at-me!” self-absorbed, attention-seeking desperation and the “oh-god-don’t-look-at-me, I don’t even deserve to take up space” self-loathing.  I aspire to be PRESENT.
I am inspired by women who not only take chances but live their lives poised and ready to jump at them.  How often do we consider doing something and then don’t because the ‘con’ side of our list grew so long and that chance passed us by?
I am inspired by women who exercise their courage on a daily basis so that they are ready.  Not better or worse, faster or slower, more or less successful, attractive, thin, rich, accomplished than the next; just the most ready and present version of themselves in this moment.
How about you?  Etes-vous prets?

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