Very Bad Decisions (make all the best stories)
Every January, I get a deep, inexplicable urge to do something incredibly stupid.
No, wrong word. Incredibly exciting. Epic. Adventurous.
And yes, I know it's not January anymore, stick with me. I have a strong aversion to boredom, as you may already know, and I am also a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I have always been this way, riding the Scream Machine roller coaster at Expo '86 when just six years old (being abnormally tall has its perks!), cliff jumping as a teenager, and going to the slums of Bogotá, Colombia for my MA fieldwork. I am always searching for the next fun and thrilling (and shiny) thing. Upon reflection, and watching my beautiful son take after his mama, it has occurred to me that I may some form of attention deficit disorder. Maybe. (I started to research this possibility but got distracted.)
Surviving cancer made this urge for adventure even stronger. When people say, “That can wait, you can do that later on in life,” my brain screams. I know better than most that “later on” might never happen.
So when that calendar flips over to another 365 days of possibility, I am prone to making what my husband calls Very Bad Decisions.
He should be proud of me, I actually did not sign up for a single race on January 1st. Admittedly I was tempted to enter my credit card number and lay those commitments down. But I knew I was in the throes of goal-making fever (a particular intense affliction in January) and I resisted. But then my day felt flat, disappointing, blah, meh. No big goals? No big races to slap on the calendar? No mountains to climb or hurdles to jump? (You are likely thinking that my life throws enough hurdles at me as it is, and you’d be right. But I never see those coming.)
Then a friend threw out the words “New York City Marathon” and I found myself jumping on board, making Facebook pronouncements, writing out race plans and fundraising commitments with an amazing organization that I recently joined, Imerman Angels.
Nothing gets me excited like a new, big, shiny goal, and now it was ON.
But hang on. A marathon isn’t that big a deal, you say. People in many states of fitness run marathons all the time, you say. Heck, your 68-year-old, overweight, asthmatic uncle finished one. Big whoop. And haven’t I already done a marathon?
All true (well, maybe not the asthmatic uncle part). But completing a marathon is not at all the same as racing one. I did "complete" a marathon, back in 2009, and it was a horrendous experience. I was taking antibiotics on race day, having been feverish only five days before the race. (This definitely qualifies as one of my Really Bad Decisions, along with signing up for a triathlon when I didn't own a bike and my pelvis was broken, and racing with shingles.) The antibiotics messed with my stomach, which is sensitive at the best of times, so… let’s just say I was well acquainted with all the “comfort stations” en route. I finished in a disappointing (for me) three hours and 59 minutes. And that will stand as my marathon time on Sportstats forever. Until I run another one.
And of course, there is Boston, the holy grail of marathons for runners everywhere. I plan to use New York to qualify, and also to show my radiation oncologist, yet again, that he was so very wrong when he said I would never run fast again. In fact, he told me that I would likely not ever run faster than about a four-hour marathon. To that I say: watch me.
But even qualifying for Boston is not quite epic enough for me. The marathon is in fact only step one to a much greater plan for next year, my five-year transplant anniversary. (For those unaware, five years is when the medical community will finally use the word "cured". Until then, you are just "in remission".)
I am about to do something very, very stupid. And also awesome. We are going to call this: My Biggest Very Bad Decision Ever.