OK, I have to admit; this isn’t really a race report. Here’s the Race Report short version: Bandera was below freezing for the race, but it was beautiful and magical and life-changing, and you should totally do it! Also, Tejas Trails puts on one helluva race, and their aid station volunteers are amazing! Ok, now onto the real reason for this post!
We all have that person in our lives that says truly hurtful things at the most inopportune times. Hopefully for you, and thankfully for me, that person is usually a delta-level acquaintance. They are the cousin of an ex-lover, the mom of a school friend, the secretary from 3 jobs ago. They knew you for enough time (or with enough depth) to feel justified in opening their malicious trap, but probably don’t know the now you. And that makes it both easier to blow them off, and harder to forget their words. You walk away thinking, “haha, they don’t even know me. I don’t care what they say!” Then, five minutes later, you’re thinking, “Who the duckfart do they think they are? THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW ME!”
You may be thinking, “Wow, Lisa, that sounds really specific. What happened?” Ok, fine, if you insist, I’ll tell you. My personal delta-level toxic butthole ran into me a while ago at the grocery store. She is an executive, smart, beautiful, carries herself like a conservative politician meets amazon warrior princess, and her hair is always in a nauseatingly perfect french braid. Honestly, I have great respect and admiration for this woman, she just, ugh… We chatted about her grandbabies, my work as a teacher, all the pleasantries. Then, she asked about running. I said I was about to attempt the 50K at Bandera, that it will be my first 50k finish if I make it, that I am really excited, that I…
“Oh” she said, pausing thoughtfully. “We ride horses there. It’s tough” and then…then… wait for it… “You should probably go in being ok with not finishing.”
I looked at her in all the stupor of a little kid being told Santa is a lie. My face probably looked like Boo from Monster’s Inc looking up at Sully when he is trying to explain that there is no monster in the closet. But it gets worse.
“Well, I’ve already not-finished two, so I’m definitely finishing this one.” I said, before being cut off by the most awful, rude, jerky, mean, bullcrap thing I’ve ever heard one human say to another. You may want to sit down for this…
“Well,” she said smugly, “let’s not put our aspiration above our capabilities.”
Y’all. Did she just? The words hung like early 90s wordart, bouncing around the cereal aisle so that I could re-experience them on repeat. I was stunned y’all. I’m not one to be without words, but I had nothing. I mean, it’s not like I am an English major, or AP English teacher, or writer, but I think that aspirations actually do go over capabilities? Also, screw you lady!
Dead – I am standing before her dead. Somehow, I use three generations of Southern manners, and politely escape, finish shopping, get out of there, and call my husband. I use all of my big kid words when relaying the story to him, including the f-bomb as multiple parts of speech. Who does she think she is? She doesn’t know me.
I didn’t know it then, but her act of cruelty was exactly what I needed. I vowed that every time Bandera felt hard, I would picture her face; that when I finished the 50k, I’d get her words tattooed across my butt (I didn’t, but you know). She had created an anti-mantra. Her words echoed through the woods for miles, scaring away birds and woodland creatures with their Medusa-laced energy. I may not have been capable of finishing the Bandera 50k, but I aspired to. That day, aspirations won.
The thing that really bothers me about her words, aside from the fact that I think women shouldn’t tear down other women, is that aspirations are literally things you are working to achieve that are currently outside of your capabilities. Specifically, according to Merriam-Webster, an aspiration is “a strong desire to achieve something high or great.” Ergo, if we don’t put our aspirations above our capabilities, what will we ever accomplish? Three years ago, I couldn’t run a mile. But I aspired to finish a 5k. I did. I became capable of a 5k, so I aspired to run a 10k. I did. By continuing this cycle of capable/aspire, I have now completed three full-marathons and three 50k trail distances. I finished that first 50k, and was back at bootcamp and running two days later. I finished the Rocky Raccoon 50K a month later. One month after that, I did it again at the “Do Stop 12 Hour” run. Why? Because I aspire to greatness. I run because I know it makes me better at the other aspects of my life. Running is nothing but a series of transferrable skills to life. It is setting little goals to achieve big ones. It’s fighting through that lying Mile 18, knowing that 30 will feel great. Running teaches us that, when we are exhausted, we still have 60% left to give. Running is a fight, and a meditative experience, all wrapped into one. You can battle the run, or kumbaya the run, but the run is there to teach you something, either about life or about your existence within that life. Running teaches us that nothing defines us, unless we let it. We get to write our own entry. We are capable of being nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs (which maybe only makes sense if you’re an English major, but go with it).
We have to acknowledge that our goals and aspirations aren’t just about ourselves. We have to aspire to bigger and greater things every day, because other women, young and old, are watching. They are getting cues from us, and they need to know that they are ALLOWED to dream. They are hoping for greatness, and we have to show them to ignore the negativity, and seek out glory. So, go out there, and aspire. Jump into a new distance, a new terrain, or a new pace. Shoot for podiums, or perhaps altitudes. And ignore the haters*
*According to UrbanDictionary.com, a hater is “A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.”