The Optimist

I don’t consider myself an optimist. Chipper affirmations are usually met with a wince and a heavy amount of side-eye. What may be intended as positivity is received as trite, simplistic, and belittling. Oh you have a problem? Chin up, sunshine. Everything happens for a reason. 

Life doesn’t just work out because we smile and think happy thoughts. Life works out because we put in the effort, give our best, and make good choices. (Or, as is more often the case, life doesn’t just work out, and we pick up the pieces and deal with it).

At the risk of being optimistic, training is going well. Really well. Knock-on-wood well.

My previous two marathons, I faced a combination of injury and life complications, and my perfect training plan went quickly off the rails. The first time I built in no buffer, and was (unsurprisingly) behind schedule almost immediately. The second time I learned and built in an extra two weeks, only to be out for a month with an ankle injury. This time, I built in even more of a buffer, and — miracle of miracles — haven’t needed any of it. I’ve only ever had time to train up to 18 miles, and this year I conquered 18 with 6 weeks to spare.

So now I can’t shake this looming sense of disaster. Something is bound to happen. Something always happens.

Rather than confidently riding my wave of good luck, I’m double-knotting my laces, looking both ways before crossing the street, and avoiding black cats, ladders, and broken mirrors. My main goal now is not to screw it up.

But maybe this time will be different. Maybe nothing has to go wrong. Maybe the doom and gloom is all in my head, and I’m actually going to finish my training as intended. Today I run 19, then next week 20, and maybe they’ll both go well. Maybe my plan finally succeeds and I finish a marathon with a strong and unbroken body. I’ve been through almost every setback imaginable, but maybe this is the year it works.

I’ll continue to be cautious and smart, and I’ll do everything in my power to arrive at the start line in optimum health, but maybe all my worrying is for naught. Maybe 26.2 isn’t so scary, and maybe I can do this after all.

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