“Whew”, I let out emphatically. Sometimes words just don’t do a moment justice. Sometimes, a good old-fashioned, “Whew” perfectly and beautifully says it all.
I wish I could hold onto this moment. I wish I could bottle it and have a sip of its sweet, sweet nectar anytime I’m feeling doubtful. Anytime I’m questioning or second guessing myself. Anytime I find myself asking, “is this worth it?” This moment, this energy, proves that it always was, and always is.
I look around and I get a sense that I’m not the only one with these thoughts. I see couples hugging each other, congratulating each other on surviving the long journey. I see parents hugging children, complete strangers shaking hands, smiles – albeit it slightly nervous ones. I see many with no friends or family – just themselves and their thoughts. They’re likely thinking, “I finally made it”.
Through moments of pain, struggle, and self-doubt, in taking bold leaps and tallying personal triumphs, we, collectively, have found ourselves at the end of the road, which ironically is only the beginning.
Another “Whew”. A deep breath. I think back to all of the challenges I’ve faced and overcome. Time and time again I’ve felt what I feel right now. That feeling of overwhelming relief and those nervous butterflies that are there to remind me that I’m doing something right. That I’m doing something that matters.
I’ve learned not to fight the butterflies. That the jitters, as some call it, only make an appearance when I’m onto something big. When I’m taking a chance. Taking a risk. Walking into the unknown. Figuring things out. Going against the grain. Daring to be bold.
I used to fight them. I used to let the butterflies – the jitters – the fear – consume me. But experience has taught me not to fight this feeling, but rather, embrace it.
I never feel this way when I know exactly what I’m doing. No, I feel this way when I don’t have a fucking clue.
It’s difficult to describe, but when the feeling I’m feeling right now hits you, it’s undeniable. So much of life is spent without it. You wake up, go to work, live the life you think you want to live – the one you’re supposed to – the one that’s comfortable.
But every once in a while, the butterflies begin to flutter. Your heart races and palms sweat. You guess and second guess if it’s worth it. You consider throwing the idea away because you’re afraid it won’t be perfect.
Then you realize the most perfect things in life are never perfect. The journey of arriving at a moment like this – a moment that matters, wasn’t anywhere near perfect. It was hard. It was ugly. At times it felt downright impossible. And that’s the beauty of it.
I look around again and I see the faces of so many changing from nervousness to excited anticipation. I’m ready. We’re ready.
Whew. 26.2 miles in front of me – here I am, here we are, at the starting line of a marathon.
Ironically, I’ve found myself at the end – which also happens to be the beginning.
In the next few hours, in the days, months, even years ahead, I’ll question and doubt myself time and time again. I’ll wonder if it’s worth it. I’ll choose comfort over challenge. I’ll come up with excuses.
Then the starting gun will sound, and I’ll remember this moment. I’ll remember the jitters. I’ll remember that when the after matters, the before is always worth it.
The jitters will return and, with confidence, I’ll take the first step.
I’m running my fourth full marathon this weekend. I’ll run for my grandfather who passed away the evening before my last marathon. I’ll run for Boston, and all the lives so dramatically changed. I’ll run for myself, and remember to never let my own self-doubt keep me from doing what matters. Wish me luck!